Success Stories: Joyce (Counselling)
Joyce, 65, had a turbulent upbringing. Born in Scotland in 1955, her mother died giving birth to her, and her father struggled to take care of her as they lived below the poverty line. He also passed away when Joyce was just 13 after a short battle with cancer, and Joyce moved in with an aunt she’d never met in Bolton. From there, she trained to become a secretary, eventually working as an office manager at a large construction firm for over twenty-five years.
"Despite the setbacks I’d suffered in life, I managed to reach a place of happiness and felt settled, especially in my job. I liked it, I was good at it, and I had a lot of great friends. Then the financial crash of 2008 happened, and the company went under. For the first time in my life since I was 18, I had no job and no income. Not only that, but the same year, my husband Malcolm was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and given just one year to live, I was devastated, I already felt I’d suffered more loss than most. After he died, I became depressed for a long time, until my sister-in-law eventually forced me to see the GP, who prescribed some pills. After a while, I began to feel better, and I started to think that there must be a way I could put all the grief I’d had to endure to good use. Then it hit me: I could become a grief counsellor.
"I didn’t know where to start, so I chose a course that would teach me the basics - the Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills - and went from there, before finally gaining my level four counselling diploma while I volunteered at a local counselling centre. As strange as it sounds, dealing with people’s problems gave me a new lease of life, and it also meant I was able to take my mind off my own suffering. Even though I’m at retirement age now, I’ve started seeing clients over Zoom who have lost loved ones. I share my experiences with them and it helps put them at ease; they know I’ve been where they have, and that I can help guide them out of the darkness into the light."
“I’ve suffered so much loss in my life, but now I help bring peace to others”
Joyce’s story is a stark reminder that often, life simply isn’t fair and that some people suffer an unfair amount of tragedy and loss. It was very difficult for Joyce to admit she was suffering from depression and see her GP, and it’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, rather than weakness, and that only by taking care of your mental health can you move on to bigger and better things. As with Joyce’s experience, however, unfortunate events in life can endow us with skills that we can use to help others who’ve suffered similarly. For instance, if you’ve ever had to deal with financial hardship, you’re probably fantastic at making your money go as far as possible. If you’ve ever had to help a loved one through illness, you probably have a fantastic understanding of how to support people going through a similar order both mentally and physically. Is there a way you can put your newfound knowledge and skills to good use?