I love dogs. We trialed having one a few years ago, she was a gorgeous collie, lab cross that I was walking at the time. Her parents were moving to Australia and couldn’t take her with them. She was so well trained, she would ask to come up on the sofa for a cuddle. She followed me everywhere, which freaked me out a bit as my children had only just stopped doing that. Our cat is 16 and she virtually left home, poor thing. It was like an 80 year old women being ousted from her home by some yobbish teenagers. You need more than one adult person in the house who wants a dog, otherwise it’s just too much work. I would feel really guilty leaving them as well. I love being the dog walker, the one to arrive and take them out. But to be the one who leaves all day, I don’t want to be that one. So, I walk other people’s dogs instead.
Why Bristol? Unromantically enough, house prices were a major factor. I would come here and visit a lot of my university friends who ended up here, and love it. I remember leaving after a great weekend, and driving back into London and becoming more and more depressed at the idea that I lived there. I stayed in London so long because of my mum essentially. Both of us are from London and have never lived anywhere else so it was still difficult to leave. The night before I left, I was just sobbing. But I arrived here and have never looked back, I love it now. The down side is that I’m further away from my mum.
Bristol immediately felt for me like people were kinder, more conscious. People take more time and are more present. I dislike going back to London now. If I visit friends, I tend to get the train back that evening rather than stay over night. Most people I know enjoy going back but I don’t, I find it claustrophobic.
I am currently studying at Severnside Institute of Psychotherapy. I am doing one of the pre-clinical courses in infant observation. I think I would like eventually to be a psychodynamic psychotherapist. This course isn’t essential, but it just looked fascinating, so I had to do it. I’m observing a baby at the moment, I met his mum before she gave birth and I visit him for an hour a week for 2 academic years. I write up what I observe, how I think he is thinking and what that also brings up in me. A lot of people think that you are going along to mark the baby’s physical milestones but its more about the baby’s emotional world – how they cope with absence, disappointments, how they learn to navigate relationships. Its fascinating. It’s also a good education in observational skills, setting boundaries and starting to understand projected emotions.
I also volunteer for the charity Womankind, I work on the helpline. The helpline offers women a chance to have a space where they can talk about their problems and be heard. It’s an amazing charity which offers free and subsidised counselling, group therapy and befriending for women in Bristol and the surrounding area.
I used to be an ICU nurse in London and then a Resuscitation Officer. I still miss ICU and have occasionally thought of going back. I don’t miss the shifts and the nights though! It’s been a while, so I think I’m just remembering the good bits. I used to like being there at the difficult, dark times and being a witness to what’s going on behind the curtains of life. Being able to be with that person at the most difficult part of their life and hopefully make a difference. I guess that’s the common thread that attracts me to psychotherapy and working on the Womankind helpline. Women often ring you when they are at a difficult junction in their lives. I’ve been privileged with their stories; given the honour of their trust. They tell you about their lives. By talking and listening, some simple magic happens. The magic happens in being heard. So many women don’t have a voice. There’s something very powerful about hearing a woman who feels that they are not being heard by others. Whether that be family, relationships, mental health services, the government or society. It is really an honour to listen to the callers and to work for the organisation.