Session one “I am exhausted and overwhelmed and my usual optimism is gone”
‘Two years ago, I had a sweet, polite teenage daughter and two fit, active parents – I can’t believe it has all changed so fast,’ groaned Paula* at our first session. ‘My daughter is a nightmare. She argues with me constantly and I think she is in with the wrong crowd at school. My dad has been diagnosed with dementia and Mum is struggling, then last month, she had a fall. I visit them most days and take them to hospital appointments.’
I could sense Paula needed to continue… ‘My husband is wrapped up in work and not really any help. I’m an optimistic person, but I don’t know how to be cheerful with all this going on. I’m tired and I feel so alone.’
I wanted to acknowledge how much Paula had on her plate. ‘My heart goes out to you,’ I said. ‘Hearing your story, three things strike me – how much you are dealing with, that you are managing it alone and how much change there is in your life. No wonder you are overwhelmed.’
I reminded Paula that, in addition to her being so busy, big changes in our lives put high demands on us. When the changes involve loss and uncertainty, they can take an even bigger emotional and physical toll.
I asked Paula to buy a journal and keep a note of her feelings for five minutes daily. I also asked her to write down three good things that happened every day, however small.
Session two Acknowledge what is happening
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