When Jocelyn went to see a therapist she was rocking back and forth. Her GP had referred her saying that she felt that her patient had no hope of ever getting over the death of her baby with medication and maybe there was some way that talking therapy might assist.
It very quickly became apparent that Jocelyn didn’t want to be there, or rather had no real idea of where she was – she was functioning on an artificial level, maintaining what was expected of her and after a lengthy and therapeutic (she told the therapist later) silence of about thirty minutes she asked if she could get some help from the therapist.
Slowly she began to relate her experience of giving birth to her child and the chronological order of events, the funeral, and the complete numbness that had taken over her body and how her heart ached for her baby.
All the time she was rocking back and forth back and forth. It was clear that she was deeply traumatised by the whole event but the most interesting part of the incident for her and the therapist was that when she was giving birth, she actually thought she was going to die. There had been a problem with one of the machines that regulated her heart and it had stopped!
Jocelyn agreed to return to therapy to undergo a ‘psychological debrief’ the following week, which took two and a quarter hours to complete. A further session was booked for two weeks later and Jocelyn penned this as her evaluation of her experience of the de-brief.
“I will be forever grateful to my doctor who sent me to see a therapist, I had really believed I was going mad, having heard how mums in Victorian times had been institutionalised after the death of a child or for having to give up a child for adoption, and I thought that was going to happen to me.
I really thought that my parents and doctors were going to have me sectioned. I just couldn’t get back to normal in any way, it was like I had been possessed. I had no recollection of what had happened, it was as if my brain had been taken over.
My head felt like fuzz and people kept asking me if I was all right. I wanted to scream at them of course I’m not alright I’ve just lost my baby, but I kept quiet. I went through the motions, every time I closed my eyes all I could see was my beautiful dead baby boy, I had many nightmares and flashbacks of dying and never slept for more than one to two hours at a time.”
When I first met the therapist, the one thing she said to me that made it all start to seem ok was
“You are reacting normally to an abnormal situation, please don’t think you are going mad because you are not at all.”
“After the psychological debrief which was very sad at times and hard going, I was instructed to carry out the breathing technique and that made it easier to carry on – it was a struggle and at times I never thought I would get through it.
The time went quickly and I couldn’t believe it had been over two hours. That night after the debrief I slept for six and a half hours. The next day I barely cried at all, although I had some happy tears.
I realised that my mind felt empty somehow of the traumatic experience itself and I was free to grieve for my son properly. The therapist explained that my response was possibly due to the near death I had experienced. The feelings I had of deep sadness were grief and loss all combined. It all made perfect sense to me.
When I went back to see the therapist for a third and final session I felt so much better, still sad for my loss and I will always remember him but it’s a different kind of sadness, almost as if it should be there, a kind of reassuring, natural grief.”
I have recently written to the therapist to tell her that I have just given birth to twins and that I am happy for her to use my account. As far as I’m concerned, the more people that can do this kind of work to help people get through their trauma, whatever that is and move on, the better.
Sue J Daniels
MBACP & UKRC (Snr Accred).
Professional Counsellor &
The following books supporting this article are available on Amazon and all major high street and online book stores…