As Ashley’s diagnosis started to sink in, that’s when I think the isolation started to kick in. I think the isolation I felt was purely psychological – it was mental isolation because I still had a support network around me. I suddenly felt that I was going to be functioning on my own and had to try and work out how I was going to manage that.
I think our relationship was initially affected with the sadness and stress of what was happening. But the isolation put more strain on our relationship because I felt unable to talk about a lot of the concerns that I had. There was a divide and a separation in the relationship because of issues with being able to communicate exactly how we were feeling.
Our Macmillan nurse talked about psychological support, and asked if that was something we’d be interested in. So they put us in touch with Marilyn, a clinical psychologist.
When we first met Marilyn, she was extremely gentle, calm and easy-going. She was perfectly happy to help in any way we felt we wanted her to help and was extremely supportive.
After the first meeting, Marilyn came on a fairly regular basis and was happy to talk to us together or separately – whatever we felt we needed at the time.
The chats with Marilyn made a massive difference to me because I finally felt able to talk to someone about all the things that I didn’t feel able to talk to anyone else about. She helped me put things in perspective more clearly. She helped me feel better about some of the concerns that I had.
Just knowing that she was there if I needed to talk was perhaps the biggest help of all. She let me know that if at any point I felt I needed to contact her and meet her, she’d be willing to do that. I was amazed, considering I wasn’t the person going through cancer. I didn’t expect to be offered that kind of support.
She helped me accept the fact I felt I needed to talk to somebody, and that it was okay.
Looking back, I think if Marilyn hadn’t come along, I really don’t believe I would have been able to carry on with my job. No matter how supportive my work environment was, I don’t think I’d have been able to keep going.