Out in the Field with chief reporter Annemarie Field: It’s good to talk

IT’S ALL about the C word this week. Three C words actually, all of which I detested until I tried them – camping, cricket and counselling.

After my fair share of sleeping in tents while travelling around Oz in my youth, and in recent years being a Champagne backpacker favouring a five star hotel to a night under canvas, last summer the children persuaded me and we went camping.

Admittedly, it was only as far as Pevensey Bay but, despite the severe weather warning, we pitched up – and although it rained and we needed a canoe to get off the site in the morning, it was great fun, cheap and we had a ball. We may even go again this year.

Then there’s cricket. I have always said I would rather give birth than watch a cricket match. But last weekend we went to the Saffrons Cricket Club House for a 70th birthday party and, courtesy of barmen Neil and Luke, I was given an insight into the game, which to me had always involved too many men standing around on a pitch for far too long, hours in some cases, before making their way to the bar. The next day I found myself horizontal on the couch watching.....cricket.

And then there’s counselling, always a taboo subject. Years ago if you went for counselling, you were regarded as bonkers. But now the “talking cure” is more acceptable and not for the barmy brigade.

I first came across Macmillan Cancer Support Service, an essential counselling service for people affected by cancer and their families, two years ago when my Dad died suddenly of cancer of the pancreas just days after my 40th birthday. My mother had died 10 years before so all of a sudden I found I was a very “young adult orphan”.

My safety net, the people you turn to when you fall over or need help, had gone. No more dancing on tables in Maxims or the Loft until two in the morning for me any more. I was now the head of my family.

But I had terrible trouble dealing with it - and the grief that cancer, such a nasty horrible disease, had caused. One minute I would be fine and the next I would be on this huge wave of grief and despair that came out of nowhere. I was on an emotional rollercoaster, struggling to be superwoman on life’s treadmill. I hit the wall at 100 miles an hour and found myself at a counselling session.

I thought it would all be psycho babble, but 90 minutes and lots of tears later I was starting to feel better and over the following months through lots of talking, expressing and exploring thoughts, feelings and problems, I started to find the tools to deal with grief and all that came with it.

It’s true what they say – it’s good to talk and, like camping and cricket, don’t knock it ‘til you try it.