I went through a fairly horrible couple of months while I was suffering from a serious illness and waiting for an operation. During this time my father suddenly died of sepsis, and I lost my sister to a long-term health condition. The grief was overwhelming. I couldn’t work out what was grief, what was depression, what was pain from my illness – it was like my emotions were all tangled and I couldn’t set them straight.

I tried to just keep going but inevitably, it all got too much for me. At home, I would burst into tears at the slightest thing. My partner was so supportive, but it was still a real challenge for us. On top of that, between my grief and my illness, I was struggling to work. The date for my operation kept getting pushed back because I wasn’t well enough to go through with it. It was a long period of time where I was at home, getting more and more anxious and depressed. I got to a point where I couldn’t really go out because I wasn’t well enough physically or emotionally.

Eventually I got the operation and it went well, but the unhappiness I was experiencing didn’t go away. I realised that it was turning into severe depression. One day I went to my GP and they told me I was getting better physically, but I knew I wasn’t getting better mentally. We talked about it and my GP recommended I find some counselling or CBT.

It was at that point I thought of CABA. Early on in my career, I had reached out to CABA and, they had been extremely helpful with a tenancy problem. I called them again and, to be honest, I burst into tears as soon as I told them everything I was feeling. 

They were very responsive and quickly arranged an appointment with a counsellor within walking distance of my home. I had 6 sessions. In the first 1 I was very nervous, and I found explaining everything afresh difficult, but I quickly realised I was in safe hands and my counsellor was excellent. I was able to piece together when had happened, how far I’d come and how I was feeling.

The sessions helped me realise that I have several triggers for my negative emotions. For example, I would get very stressed at work because answering phone calls and emails was unbearable for me. I knew the reason was because I’d had so much horrific news delivered to me in this way. I felt like everything I did would turn into disaster. My counsellor taught me the difference between a reaction and a response. I learned to step aside from my immediate response, which was terror, and react in a more measured way.

It wasn’t an overnight cure – I still have emotional challenges. But counselling made a big difference and I now feel like I can live my life again. My ability to work has really improved and at home, I’m a better partner and I’m easier to be around. I still have my difficulties – certain times of year are still very sad for me – but I would say my interaction with CABA was nothing but positive. They gave me a lifeline when I was at my lowest point. 

How CABA can help

CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please: