Rebuilding my life after #MS diagnosis.
This Autumn I start a MA in Counselling at York St John University and need to raise the funds to pay my fees after I was turned down for a career development loan. I am crowdfunding to pay the fees for the first two years of my course (the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling) that will qualify me to practice. In total I need to raise £6166. This will give me the breathing space to save the funding for my third and final Masters year and to cover the costs of personal therapy and supervision.
It’s been a long and hard road to get here but this course offers me a chance to work in a role that would fit around my #MS and the limitations that puts on working. It would also give me a chance to support others going through the same challenging journey.
In September 2015, I woke up one Sunday morning and set out for a run with a friend (a normal weekend morning for someone who had run Rome and London marathons). I couldn’t run. My foot kept on catching the pavement and I only made it a few metres down the street. Within 24 hours I had no movement or power in my right leg and 3 days later was admitted to hospital.
Eventually I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (#MS). I received the most amazing care, and despite suffering from fatigue that meant I slept every afternoon, I returned to my teaching job after 3 months. Unfortunately, I went on to suffer 2 more relapses: one where I lost the movement in both legs and one where my vision was affected. The school that I taught at felt unable to make the adjustments that I needed to do my job and I left teaching. I found other part-time work, including working as a notetaker for students with disabilities at Leeds University, however, living with a life long illness brings financial hardship.
Fast forward three years and in 2018 I cycled from London to Paris and this week finished the Great North Run (and I ran every step). Physically I am doing really well. Diagnosis and giving up my career, however, have been an emotional roller coaster. My GP knew this and referred me for counselling and there begins the next part of the story.
After many sessions, my counsellor asked me to describe my ideal job. I talked about my skills, my interests, my likes and dislikes and to my surprise she said: ‘You’d make a great counsellor’. Counselling is a role that I had thought about on and off for years and to have a practising counsellor say this was a green light to explore this more.
I self-funded two courses at York College in Counselling to explore the profession and to find out whether I had the skills to succeed. York College gave me the experience and skills to take the next step and I was offered a place at York St John on their MA Counselling course which will qualify me to work as a counsellor.
Working life with #MS is a challenge. I continue to suffer from fatigue and tend to rest each afternoon. The ability to work part-time and the flexibility and pace of work as a counsellor seems to meet this need. Counselling helped me enormously to cope with my diagnosis, the loss of my career, changing relationships and friendships and the impact of physical symptoms on my life style. Depression and anxiety are very common symptoms of #MS. As a counsellor, I feel called to support others to negotiate the mental and emotional impact of the condition. Counselling offers me a chance to rebuild my life and career and help others to do the same. I hope that you feel that you can help me to achieve this and thank you in advance.
About YSJ course
The course is accredited by the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP).
For the PGDip equal weight is given to the importance of counselling theory, counselling practice and personal development in the training of counsellors. The course day normally comprises elements of counselling theory, counselling practice, peer supervision, and personal development activities. The structure of the course reflects this balance. The theoretical basis of the course is humanistic-integrative. The first year is devoted to exploring elements of the therapeutic relationship, preparation for practice and draws heavily on humanistic theory and practice. The second year builds on this, and explores the contribution of other models of counselling. Students will be encouraged to develop a personally integrated style of therapeutic work, based on core humanistic competences, and drawing on the possibilities offered by other approaches.