Miscarriage: when you just can't 'get over it'

In my article this week, I talk about Rachel, a young woman who, although physically present at work is psychologically absence, due to extreme emotional distress following a miscarriage.

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Apr 27, 2016
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Rachel was given a week off by her GP to recover. On her return to work, although now physically well, Rachel had been so emotionally traumatised by the experience that she was unable to function in her job.

In the article I give an intimate and detailed description of Rachel's distress and how that impacted her ability to work.

This was easy to do, because the Rachel in the story was me.


Rachel

Rachel, at 22, had not expected to become pregnant so soon after her marriage.

Although not planned, she soon got used to the idea and started excitedly looking forward to having a baby. She told family and a few close friends. She started shopping for baby clothes in her lunch hour at work.

Then one day, something terrible happened. Rachel miscarried.

The reaction in her circle was uniform. ‘You’re young, there will be other opportunities. You'll get over it.’ Rachel's GP gave her a week off to recover, but by the time she returned to work, although physically present, Rachel was psychologically absent.

Her manager, with all good intentions, asked to have a quiet word with her at the back of the office. ‘My wife had a miscarriage’ he said ‘so I know how you feel’.

‘Thank you’, said Rachel. ‘You have no idea how I feel’, she thought.

The weeks that followed were difficult.

Rachel felt tearful most of the time. She couldn't sleep and couldn't stop thinking about the baby she had lost. She wanted to talk about how she felt. At first friends and family were sympathetic but, after a while, seemed to have less patience with hearing what was, essentially, the same story, over and over again.

Rachel learned to keep quiet and people thought she was ok.

But Rachel's work was suffering. Her concentration had gone and she started making mistakes. Her manager was now less than sympathetic.

‘What's going on Rachel? You'll have to pull yourself together’ he said ‘I can't afford to carry passengers.’

Now Rachel had something else to worry about. Her previously safe world seemed to be crumbling around her. Her relationship was suffering too as her husband lost patience with her seeming inability to ‘get over it and move on’.

Rachel never did ‘get over it.’

Helping Rachel

Grief is grief. We should not underestimate the strength and significance of the bond between a mother and her unborn child, no matter how early it is in her pregnancy.

The grief does not get smaller. Rather, with time, the hope is that our life expands around it and our loss becomes part of our journey and part of our personal narrative.

‘I know how you feel’ is not the best starting point. Neither is ‘pull yourself together.’

‘Tell me how you feel’ is better, but that's no good either, unless people are prepared to listen empathically, without judgement and without interrupting with their own experiences.

It would have been more helpful for Rachel to have had access to a professional who knew how to support grief, trauma and emotional distress. What Rachel really needed was validation for her experience, an explanation of what was going on for her and guidance on what she could do to help support herself as she worked through her sense of loss.

We now know that, the more we become emotional, the less we have access to our rational brain. It’s called emotional hijacking. Concentration and focus are destroyed by high emotion. Managing anxiety is a skill. At times of crisis, just knowing this is empowering. We know what to do to help ourselves.

The more we worry, the less we enjoy good quality sleep at night. By the morning, our motivational energy has been eaten up by too much REM (dreaming sleep). Now there is a second problem and the tiredness just adds to the stress.

SAFE SPACES

If Rachel had known about the ‘recipe’ for emotional well-being, she would have been aware that her needs for personal security, attention and control were compromised by the loss of her baby; that the emotional distress she felt was authentic and that, while she waited to regain her sense of equilibrium, there were things she could do to help herself.

The STOP system™ would have given her a practical way to ‘take a step back’ from her distress and self soothe with gentle mindfulness techniques.

SAFE SPACES integrates ‘the emotional needs ‘recipe’ with a practical ‘system’ for emotional management, creating a powerful wraparound formula for wellbeing and resilience.

When it comes to mental health, knowledge truly is power. For all the Rachel’s, here is the formula. I hope it helps:

Security
Attention
Family, friends and fun
Emotional intimacy
Status
Privacy
Achievement
Control
Engagement
STOP System™

Find out more on www.integratedcoachingacademy.com

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters

Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....

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