Beccy Stremes

Kids leaving home for the first time

This is the time of year when thousands of 18 year olds head off to university for the first time. They may be full of excitement and anxiety at the same time. Some will find this transition easy, others harder, but this blog is aimed at the parent/s left behind.

When my youngest left home to go travelling, I was absolutely beside myself. The day before he left, I kept bursting into tears. Actually, I could hardly look at him without the tears just flowing uncontrollably. It became a bit of a joke that day, but there were so many emotions going on inside me, and I didn’t have the words to explain. It was like my whole purpose had been ripped away from me. I felt my role in life had abandoned me, and I was grieving.

The first few nights were horrendous. I wandered round the house only to be greeted by a deafening silence. I felt ungrounded, like the whole world had suddenly changed shape, that nothing was the same. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t want to cook just for me. Wasn’t I supposed to embrace this wonderful new freedom for myself? After all, I’d spent the last 30 years bringing up three children, wasn’t this supposed to be my new beginning?

As the weeks went by, there were a few things I learnt. The major thing was to not expect many phone calls from my son! He was having the best time ever. There were moments when his mobile was turned off for days and I would be petrified that something awful had happened to him. Luckily, he would always resurface and I would get a phone call from him telling me what a great time he was having. My two older daughters and friends helped me through with a lot of support, which I am still so grateful for.

I also slowly started enjoying my own space. I could cook what I wanted, or not cook at all. The house stayed clean, the bathroom felt like a luxury.

I made sure that every weekend I would do something different, whether it was with friends or on my own. As a single parent, I think the last child leaving home, hits even harder, but there are different things couples have to face.

Couples suddenly don’t have kids around to distract them from their relationship. It can be a disturbing time when couples have to almost re-negotiate their relationship together. This can bring up all sorts of problems, or be a wonderful time to re-connect in a different way.

Whatever, there will be many parents right now facing this difficult transition. Look out for them, give them a call, see how they are getting on. Invite them round for dinner. Take time to listen to their feelings and just allow them to stay with those feelings, not dismissing them or trying to fix the problem for them.

Blog. Is your stomach churning/

Is your stomach churning?

According to Michael Gershon, M.D., author of The Second Brain (Harper-Collins, 1999), we have a second brain in our stomach. I heard this mentioned at a conference I was at the other day, and it made so much sense, I just had to write about it.
So, those "Gut" feelings and "Gut" Instincts now make perfect sense, and I will now be listening even more intently to what my stomach is saying to me.
I see my stomach as a round Pie chart - with different sections that grow or reduce depending on my feelings.There's different sections for anxiety; sadness; joy; anger; guilt and shame, and they all have different colours. So for me, anger is red; joy is yellow; sadness is grey;anxiety is purple; guilt and shame is green. Through each message sent from my brain, my stomach reacts and the pie chart shifts around from emotion to emotion in a constant movement of colour. I am learning to really listen to stomach, and work out which emotions I am feeling. This is a helpful tool, because I may be feeling angry about a situation that I've just experienced, but I'm unsure why? When this happens, I can think about my earliest memories of being angry. Most times this gives me a little indicator of any patterns of anger, and I can quickly see whether I am just reacting to old patterns of anger to see whether the anger I'm feeling right now is really justified. If I'm feeling anxious, I can quietly see what I can do to calm it down a bit. Do I just need to really organise my day, so that the thoughts that are causing anxiety are addressed. This anxiety usually happens when I am dealing with a lot of different work issues and I'm not sure which tasks to prioritise first. Just thinking about what the anxiety is about, means I can see what is the most important thing to get done, and what else can be ditched for the time.
When things get ditched, I imagine wrapping the thoughts and actions needed, up into a nice box with lovely wrapping paper and a big bow round it. I then wrap this in cling film a few layers. In my imagination, I then push the wrapped box, ever so gently with both hands, and watch it disappear into the sky, where it sits neatly on a little ledge ready for when I need to look at it. If I do this, it means I have THIS day, to look at what is important to get done, and I have a much better chance of achieving all my goals for the day. Tomorrow, I can send for the lovely wrapped box, and see whether it is the right day to open it, and tackle the issue inside. What this does for me, is it reduces my anxiety, and leaves me more space to en "Joy" other parts of my day.
If I am really feeling anxious, ten minutes listening to a good meditation tape, works wonders. I have to admit, this took practice, and at first I couldn't get my brain to be quiet. If I can stop the constant chatter in my brain, it gives my stomach a chance to re-balance, so that the pie chart is all nicely equal for a little while. When it's equal, my body feels calm, and I feel at peace with the world. When I'm at peace, It's usually followed very quickly by a real feeling of Joy.

If you feel your own personal pie chart in your gut is out of balance, and would like to explore this with me, please contact me and we can arrange a time that suits you, to meet and see how we can re-balance this together.

If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at [email protected]

“My child is starting school in a few weeks time and I am all over the place, filled with anxiety and sadness”

Hey, and first of all, yes I get it, having been through it three times, and watched my grown children going through this with their children, I can say categorically that these feelings are absolutely normal, and commonplace for pretty much all Mums.

If it is your first child, the handing over of responsibility to another adult, and a school with their own set of rules, can feel daunting.

Prepare yourself – it’s ok to have a great big cry -after all, it is a loss of a very special time, and you might not be ready for this next “Growing up “ phase in your Childs life. Here are some suggestions to get you through the day.

    Look at who you can call on to support you on the big day, whether it’s a partner or a friend.

    Let people know how you are feeling and don’t be embarrassed – good friends will understand and will enjoy being able to be there for you.

    See if it’s possible to do something nice for yourself whilst your child is attending their first day – maybe getting your nails done, or booking a hair appointment, or having the luxury of taking the day off work.

    Try as much as you can to not cry in front of your child – they will pick up on your anxiety and worry about you, and this will make it harder for them to settle in – they will feel that something is wrong.

    Try some deep breathes in on the morning of the big day. This really does work, and calms your body down.

    If this doesn’t work, try counting backwards from a hundred, this stops the thoughts and allows the adrenalin to settle. As soon as you have that tearful feeling, start counting backwards. When you get home, let it all out and be proud of yourself and your child.

    Try not to make too big a deal of the whole thing with your child – they are so clever! – over emphasizing what a fantastic day they are going to have , can also make them think something is amiss, so try and act as normal as possible and treat it like a different pre-school group.

    Make friends with the other new Mums as soon as you can. Open up and show your vulnerability with them if you are feeling sad. Chances are, these parents are going to be a major support network for you, for the next 6 years, and you will all be having similar feelings.

    If you have any concerns with the school, be brave and tell them straight away.

    If your feelings don’t subside, or your child is not settling within a few weeks, I would really urge you to speak with the school and see if they have a parent worker available. More and more primary schools have either a school Counsellor or a parent worker on their staff, and their job is not only to support the children to settle in, but the parents also.

My experience as a school Counsellor, was that the majority of children settled in and were running around playing with the new toys within a few minutes of saying goodbye to the parents, even if they had been tearful at first. Teachers want a settled happy class, and will do their utmost to settle your child in, for their sake as well as your Childs.

Lastly, try not to think about your own experience of the first day at school, if it wasn’t a positive experience for you. Schools are constantly changing, and there is so much emphasis on the wellbeing of the children especially now, - they really will be looking after the best interests of your child and you.

Blog. Blog- anxiety and depression

How I work with anxiety and depression

In our first session together, you may have a great deal to talk about, especially if you haven’t been able to talk with friends or loved ones about this. This is your time to start telling your story. I liken it to throwing a box of jigsaw puzzle pieces up into the air, and us both watching and observing each piece hitting the ground. Your story may be bitty, but that is fine, I’m not expecting anything else.

We will also do an in depth exercise where we will look at all your feelings right now around your depression and anxiety, what feelings are evoked. This will be repeated at different times through the period of us working together.

It is helpful for me to know about your current family set-up, but also your set-up in your family of origin, ie your parents and siblings.

I will also ask questions about your childhood, and how you saw your personality as a little child.

If time, we might start working on a time-line of important events that took place in your life, and what your feelings were about each event. This is always a real eye open not only for me, but for you, when you see your life events set out in time.

The following weeks are spent building up the information from our first session, and you having the space to talk about your own personal story, but also any difficult day to day events you are having to deal with. I offer tips around what to do when you are feeling particularly anxious, and different exercises for you to try, to see what works for you to help you feel more grounded.

We will explore what relaxing things you might have enjoyed as a child, and whether some of these hobbies or sports would help you to feel more relaxed now.

If you are suffering from depression, we also look at the common themes and suggestions, that help build your resilience when you are feeling depressed, at the same time of looking at what might be causing the depression or anxiety.

We also look at what you want from your future, and work together on goals as to how you might achieve this.

Clients find that their symptoms of anxiety or depression, slowly start mellowing as they get to understand and see their whole picture. We look at what you want to change, and then what tools are needed to help you make the changes you want to in your life.

If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at [email protected]

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Lost at sea - the therapeutic journey

When you experience change, whether it’s a welcome change, or a cruel unexpected change, it can take a long time to feel that secure base of safety again and you can feel lost, fearful and unsure of anything anymore. With these feelings present, you may find that making decisions are impossible. You may feel that your stomach is constantly knotted, and there is a constant feeling of being Lost at Sea. All is just not ok. You may feel as if there are a million different thoughts darting through your mind, none of which are making much sense. Focusing may be extremely difficult and it feels like there is no way forward.

When we start working therapeutically together, the counselling space becomes a secure base for you to start unfolding all those feelings and fears. I stop alongside you. I don’t try and give advice or find a solution, but I act as an anchor, a place to ground, and we explore together everything that has brought you to this place, this part of the ocean that is so scary right now. We wait however long it takes until you are ready. Like a damaged boat lost at sea, we work together to make repairs, replacing old wood for new wood and new strengths for old weaknesses before we attempt to move on.

When the time is right, and you are repaired enough, I sail along side you as you begin your journey towards your new secure base. We journey at your pace, sometimes moving quickly forward, sometimes getting stuck for a while, and sometimes being dragged back a bit. But slowly we are definitely moving forward together on your journey and I stay beside you for however long the journey takes.

As you sail slowly forward, the shore begins to take shape and I know my journey with you is coming to an end soon. We spend time looking ahead to the new life just in front of you, and pay respect to the difficult journey you have sailed. You have new strengths with the wind within your sail and your own life is in front of you again. As we approach land, we bid a fond farewell and we part as I watch you in the distance stepping out. Our therapeutic journey has ended and your adventures are ready to begin. You have found your feet and are on solid ground again, you have found your own secure base.
If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at [email protected]

Blog. Menopause blog

Counselling during the menopause

Going through the Menopause can be a really tough time, physically for sure, but also mentally. We often read about the physical difficulties - hot flushes; sleepless nights; erratic periods: but less is spoken about anxiety and depression that can appear from nowhere, leaving us wondering why we suddenly feel we've lost our confidence and the resilience that we had before. This is not surprising when you stop and think what you are physically going through.

Unfortunately the menopause comes along at an age when we could really do without it ( A bit like GCSE's bang in the middle of the adolescent stage!) We are facing a real time of transition, often dealing with adult children leaving home; or dealing with the worries of parents becoming elderly and frail. We might be questioning our relationship with partners, suddenly having more spare time together and not remembering how we used to communicate: we are also facing our own feelings about the ageing process and what life in older age will look like. It really can be a time of reflection and insecurities. Our settled worlds can suddenly feel rocked and unsafe. All of this will be explored in Menopausal counselling.

Having been through the menopause and having spent much time researching how best to emotionally support clients through this, I have been able to pick out certain therapeutic tools that I feel would be helpful through this menopausal transition.

We explore together, your own specific Timeline. of major events in your life, and what beliefs about yourself you may have built up. Then we look at whether these beliefs are useful or hindering you. If you think they are hindering you, we look at replacing these with a more helpful belief ( created by you) that will empower not hinder you.

We will also explore and look at the other issues you may be facing, whether it's pressure at work; or pressure at home, and see how you would best like to use the important down time ( playtime) to support you through.

And finally, we look to the future, to see what you are hoping to achieve, what your wishes are for the future. We look at any fears that are holding you back, sensitively challenging them, seeing if we can shift any feelings of being "Stuck" to a more freeing, empowering feeling.

If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at [email protected]

Blog. why choose counselling

Why choose Counselling?

If we are physically ill, most of us go to the doctors, and ask for help to put things right. It's a sensible thing to do. We don't want to feel the aches and pains, and we are looking after ourselves. In fact, if you complain of an illness to a friend, most likely the first thing they will say is " Have you been to the doctor?"
If we are feeling emotionally unwell, somehow we expect ourselves to "Get over it" and carry on. We plod on regardless, and usually through positive experiences happening as well, we quickly recover and get on with dealing with life. However, sometimes our emotions just get too worn down, like getting a bout of flu over and over again, and this is when I feel counselling has a real part to play. When we are at this point we "simply can't see straight" and a helping hand is what is needed. This can often be the helping hand of a friend, but every now and then their words don't comfort anymore and you know you need outside help. To speak to an absolute stranger IS Scarey. To talk to someone and tell them how awful you really are feeling takes guts. It's a big brave step to take, and I have loads of admiration for anyone picking up the phone to make that first contact.
My own experience of having counselling has left me in a place where I have a better understanding of how my mind works and my emotions work. I've realised that when someone or something makes me feel vulnerable, I will react in a certain way to keep myself safe. Only sometimes the way I react is not helpful to myself. I may be feeling vulnerable because of a fear that stemmed from something years back. I may start feeling anxious or panicy, re-living the original fear when actually it's not necessary. I will react much better from a position of neutrality, rather than triggering off a reaction from fear. I'm waffling, so let me try giving you an example.
My belief is that I cannot cope with opinionated people. This stems from my family life where there were strong debates about politics. As a child I felt threatened by the ever increasing noise when the debates started. I would feel anxious, on hyper alert, and wouldn't dare speak even if I desperately needed something. When I hear someone being opinionated now, my immediate reaction is to feel anxious; on the alert and ready to escape, and this feeling usually make me withdraw very fast from the conversation. Now I can see that this was how I felt as a child, I can see I don't necessarily have to feel like this today. So, actually rather than withdraw, I might quite enjoy learning where their opinions came from. Because I don't feel vulnerable, I might join a conversation that is really interesting, I might even challenge what they are saying. I don't have to agree with anything. So, I have the chance to try out different ways of reacting, which let's me have more choices in life, rather than just reacting the way I always did. This is just a small example of how we can react differently when we have a chance to explore our past and the behaviours we set up to deal with issues.
SO this is my experience of counselling - the chance to discover patterns of behaviour which are reactions to emotions, and then decide whether I want to carry on reacting the same way, or try out other ways. It's like a freedom from the rut, a chance to do things differently. A new beginning.
If you feel like you're reacting from past experiences which are holding you back, and would like a fresh start, away from those original emotions, counselling may be for you.
If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at [email protected]

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