Ten years after her mum’s passing, Debbie* realised she needed some support to move on with her life. After coming to Turning Point Talking Therapies Wakefield, she now feels able to manage her depression and has been able to open up to her family about her mental health. We caught up with Debbie to find out how Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) had helped her when she was at her most vulnerable.
I heard about Turning Point from a friend who works in safeguarding at a school, I was actually seeking support for my husband at the time and she told me about the services you offer. It was a good few months before I came to Turning Point Talking Therapies but I was glad I knew about the service in the back of my mind when I needed it. I was motivated to self-refer because I thought that my husband needed support too and I wouldn’t be able to suggest he got support if I wasn’t willing to. It’s quite difficult to reach out for help as it means admitting you need help and overcoming the stigma attached to that but last year, I reached a crisis point and everything sort of collapsed in on me so I knew I needed to do something.
Last year was quite hard for everyone and it was at Christmas that things got too much for me. My mum passed away 10 years ago and her death had been something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Ten years ago, a lot of things changed – I finished my degree and got pregnant as well as losing my mum. I wouldn’t say I didn’t deal with it but I definitely put some of these things in a box and hid it away. This has been building and building so when other things happened, it would all end up relating to the loss of my mum and become unmanageable. As well as dealing with a lockdown Christmas and birthday, I hadn’t seen my dad in a year and friendships were becoming strained. Combined with the 10 year anniversary of my mum’s death, this was a really hard time. I love my friends and my family but that wasn’t enough – I needed someone else. Someone you can completely open up to without feeling guilt or any negative emotions for the other person. That’s when I came to Turning Point Talking Therapies.
When I phoned up initially, I had a lot of self-doubt about wasting people’s time but the guys on the phone were just brilliant. There was no pressure, no judgement and the tone was just right. The turnaround was really quick as well – probably less than you’d wait for a normal doctors’ appointment which is really positive. I was nervous about my therapy being done over the telephone but it was fine actually. I quite liked it because I could do ‘ugly crying’ without anyone seeing which was good. I knew when my appointments would be so I could come home and get ready. I’d make myself a cup of tea and get a blanket so I felt safe. If you’re going to be vulnerable, you need to be cosy and I was pleased to be able to do this in the comfort of my own home. I’m not actually sure whether I’d want to do face to face treatment or choose the phone if I was given the option now which is interesting. Telephone therapy takes a lot less time out of your day as you don’t have to drive anywhere but I guess there are pros and cons to both.
I liked working with Pete, he was really nice. I felt very comfortable being honest with him and was able to be completely honest – ugly truth honest – which I realised you’ve got to be in therapy or you’re not going to grow. Before I started treatment, I did a lot of questioning whether my emotions were valid, justified or real. I know that’s not a good way to deal with your emotions and I would never expect my children to do this but I expected myself to. Now I know this is not the way to deal with my feelings. It was great to be able to open up and have my feelings validated and listened to. This helped give me confidence in my own feelings and so I could talk about them to other people as well as Pete. Before therapy, I was questioning if I was allowed to feel something and this meant I couldn’t reach out for support. Of course, after working with Pete, now I know if you feel something it’s valid.
I’m quite self-critical, my self-confidence is low most of the time and quite delicate but I found that therapy gave me confidence in my feelings and this had a ripple effect in me as a person as well which made me more confident. Speaking to Pete helped me validate myself as a person and not just tackle the complicated grief I was dealing with. Coming to Turning Point Talking Therapies made a difference in me finding myself as a person, it sounds over the top but it’s true. For me, whilst the complex grief was the focus of my treatment, I didn’t realise how much that was affecting other aspects of my life and how I was feeling as a person.
Since completing treatment, I’ve had a few friends comment that they can see a change in me so that’s really positive. It’s changed the way I talk to people in some ways as now I know what I’m looking for when I reach out for support and I’m able to express myself and my feelings more clearly which means I get better support. It’s also made me a better listener and communicator. I’m now able to talk about my mum which is a massive step for me. I’ve got 2 boys and I’m happy that now I can talk to them about her. Before, the relationship they had with her was ‘she’s dead and that upsets mum’ whereas, now, we can talk about her as a person which is really positive. It’s also opened up conversations with my dad and brother about my mum as we didn’t talk about her before which I think has been good for them too. Although it was me who went through therapy, I can see the ripple effect of the little positives it’s had on everyone around me.
I’ll be honest and say I can still feel a niggle of depression and I do worry that it’s going to come back. However, I have strategies and coping mechanisms to support me now and I know how to spot the early warning signs. Even though I’ve stopped talking to Pete, I know it’s not the end of my journey and it’s important to carry on with the things that we talked about in treatment. I also know where to come back to if I’m feeling this way again which is really comforting.
*Names have been changed