Monday, October 18, 2010


I am a big believer in counselling - I think it has it's time and place and it can often help people going through hard situations - plus it rarely hurts the situation, so I think that whenever someone's going through a very difficult time, whether it be in their marriage or whether it be in general life situations, it should be an option that they should look into.

I also think that anyone who is given a poor prenatal diagnosis in pregnancy, or anyone who suffers a loss of a child, or anyone who gives birth to a child with special needs or a disability should also consider seeing a counsellor as well.

I hadn't really thought about it too much as counselling was never suggested to me, all through my pregnancy - even when the doctors thought that Maddy most probably would not survive, to after she was born and it was confirmed that she had diastrophic dysplasia. I think that in other countries, counselling might have been part of the process somewhere along the line there - but here in Hong Kong it was never even recommended to me.
A couple of things happened recently that made me think about counselling. First of all, one of my friends here in Hong Kong is studying for her masters in counselling and needed a volunteer to "practice" on. She couldn't use anyone that she knew though, so she asked her friends to see if they knew anyone who would be interested. I ended up setting her up with one of my friends - but in the process I joked "It's a shame that you can't use anyone that you know because I'm sure I'd get you an A+". 

Secondly, I was talking with someone about Maddy and she asked whether or not we had been offered any counselling - and when I said we hadn't, she said that I probably would find it worth my while looking into it independently. She made me "promise" that I'd find someone and talk with them. She said "Even if you just talk with them once and they say you're coping with it in a good way, it's better than not talking with anyone and then regretting it later". I could buy that - and I know I definitely have been through a LOT this year. It has without a doubt been the hardest, most stressful, most challenging years of my life. 

So since I like to keep my word, I decided to look into seeing a counsellor to talk about what I've been through in the past year, how I've been coping with it, and whether there are areas that I can make improvements. I remember reading Matt Roloff's autobiography - he has DD and his parents had four kids, three of which had DD. He wrote a paragraph about his mother that stuck with me. He said:

Mom admits that there were times when she wondered if she might break down. She talks now of a mental picture she would get when things got really tough. It was a picture of her walking precariously along the edge of a very steep precipice. When she got so emotionally, spiritually, and mentally exhausted, she wondered what would have been wrong with just going over the edge. But she remembers thinking how useless that would have been because all that would happen is that she would be put in an institution, put on medication, and made to get back up on the edge. In the long run, it just wasn't worth it to fall, so she decided to keep her balance - day by day.

I know that  ultimately, I want to be strong so that I can be the best mother possible for my kids, the best wife for my husband, and the best person that I can possibly be, and I figured that it wouldn't cost me anything to talk with a counsellor and just make sure that mentally, I AM coping with all that I'm going through. 

So last week, I had a chat to a counsellor. It's the first time in my life that I've ever done so (unless you count the premarital counselling that Bernard and I did with my pastor before we were married) and it was a bit emotional and humbling for me, asking for "help" in a way - although I did say to her "I think that I'm coping pretty well with it, but I know that it's not always easy to see when you're NOT coping, so I wanted to talk to someone more as a precaution rather than because I'm falling apart now." (nice disclaimer hey?) 

The counsellor did say that I seemed to be dealing with the situation fairly well and that she could see that I was pretty positive about it all. It was an emotional talk at times, telling her the whole story of my pregnancy and Maddy's life so far and what the future will hold for her and for us as a family. Even she had tears in her eyes as she said to me "I'm a mother too - and I know how hard it must be for you seeing your child in hospital in that box day after day". She gave me some things to think about though, and the main thing that I took out of it was that I need to make sure that in looking after everyone else, I need to make sure that I'm looking after myself as well. I have a pretty busy schedule with taking Lana to school, pumping at regular times each day as well as heading up to the hospital. I'm trying to still be a good wife for Bernard as well and not neglect him - but I need to take some time to remember not to neglect myself either...

So all in all, it was a pretty good experience and I'm glad that I went to see her. It isn't something that I will probably do on a regular basis but if I do get to where I'm feeling like it's all too much, I will definitely keep it in mind for the future. Being able to ask for help is difficult for me - but I would rather ask for help than fall off that precipice. Even though I don't like asking for help, I want to be the best wife and mother that I possibly can be for my family - and I know that I need to be strong now more than ever :)


  1. I know how hard it was for me also to have counselling just prior to me coming over to see you. I am glad that I did as it helped me to see that it was quite ok to be feeling the way that I did. I am amazed at your strength but I also know that you are being held up in prayer daily. All over the world people are praying. God is looking after you Nicole, and will continue to do so.

    I am glad that you could go and talk to someone. Once again thank you for sharing your heart. I love you my girl.

    Mum, Dad and Ash.

  2. Nicole I have read all your blogs as you have shared your heart,thoughts and decisions and often questions. during your pregnancy with Maddy her delivery and subsequent hospitalization. I have commented previous and maybe you thought I may have been somewhat harsh in what I said. But I have seen over these months you blossom into a strong mature woman. A woman now with compassion and a greater understanding. Oh we all think we have that but it is only when God works on us that the veneer or face mask or more better put our humanity is peeled away to reveal the beauty of the Lord in us.
    Yes what a tragedy and to think that Bernard has a very rare gene of the same family. A virtual impossibility among the Chinese community. Why? Only God knows that answer and I am sure that in time he will reveal that to you both no matter what the final outcome.
    My heart was overwhelmed when you had your first visit with Maddy in NICU after her birth and you said something along these lines. "God she is yours and do with her what you will" Releasing you child into Gods hands no matter what, A little like Abraham with Issac, God had given but he was asking back; not able to see beyond the immediate faith was all their was to hold onto.
    And yes this has been the worst year in yours and Bernard's life
    but you are excelling you are allowing God to fulfill his plan in your lives for his glory.
    Love U al, hugs & xxxx Margaret F.

  3. Nicole, that's great that you have someone to talk to! I agree, those who have been through some real rough times can benefit greatly by having councel. We were never offered it when we were told that Sonya would not survive. Shocking huh? It amazes me how this happens all over the world even in the US.

  4. Great post, Nicole. Y'know, I was thinking while I read it that we're all cracked vessels (or cracked pots, ha!) and we all need therapy in some form or another. I think if everyone was really honest, everyone would realize their need for counseling. It's really amazing to me that you made it this far through your life without ever seeing a counselor. I guess maybe I'm more "damaged" than most (or maybe just more honest than most about my true state?) but counseling has huge benefits and I think personally it is an important part of upkeep in one's mental health. So, if we spend money on food, vitamins and medicine to make our bodies healthy, we probably should be paying that much attention to our other parts-mind, spirit and soul. I'm glad that you're seeking out someone to talk to and I hope you'll keep it up because rarely can you know from one counseling session if "you've got it all under control." Here's a toast to you and your family being in the best of health--in all parts! Again, great post because it encourages others to seek out counseling as well. Kudos to you!

  5. I found your blog through Love That Max blog. I wanted to say that I too am in counseling and I think it's a great idea.