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Children in Need: "I tried bottling my feelings up, it really hurts."

Grace Burgin started receiving counselling with our Child and Family Therapist Stella Christou in 2015 following the death of her granddad Maurice Davey, who was cared for at the hospice. 

This traumatic event compounded the grief Grace was suffering from previously losing her great nan Winnie Manger.  

Read Grace's story to find out how Stella has helped her to cope with her fears and move on with her life.     

Grace Burgin with her dog Winnie 2 (cropped)

My name is Grace Burgin and I'm 16-years-old. The reason I went to Saint Francis Hospice is because I suffer from anxiety.  

In 2012 my grandad got diagnosed with cancer. Personally I didn't feel anything, of course it was a shock but I was still young.

During the period of time between my grandad getting diagnosed and dying in 2014, the family was stressed. I still didn't feel anything. My mum was the main carer for him, this meant a lot of the time she was with him and I very rarely got to see her. I am very close with my mum and to not have her around for nights on end was scary but I still didn't feel stressed or worried. What made it worse for my mum and her family was that my nan has dementia - she didn't understand what was wrong.

The summer of 2014 me, mum and dad went on our usual holiday to Suffolk, this is when it hit me. 5 weeks I stayed there for, on a farm with animals. I didn't eat for 3 weeks straight. My mum then left me and my dad for 2 weeks.  Then granddad died in the September. I didn't feel anything. But because of all the stress with grandad my mum went into hospital and I stopped eating again. I refused to go to school. I had screaming battles everyday with my mum.   Grace Burgin with her dog Winnie 3

Winnie and Grace

The school offered for me to see the school counsellor. I had her for a month and it didn't help. I then got sent to CAMS, they then referred me to Stella. From having no one who understood and not even the school counsellor understand me I was optimistic to go. I did go. Stella listened to me and explained why I felt that way. She made me understand that I am a normal girl. Having Stella helped me figure out why it hit me so hard. My great nan died and then a week later so did my dog. All of this negativity just moved to the front of my brain. I talked with Stella - she was someone I could vent to. The difference with talking to Stella is that she doesn't know my family, she doesn't know anything about me to begin with. She doesn't judge, she listens. It was all confidential, no one could ever know what we were talking about unless I said she can tell them. Stella was like having a friend who had a different language; only you knew what you were talking about.  

I have stopped my counselling with Stella now but I know that if there was anything I needed to talk to her about I can go and talk to her. I still get nervous but I know that I have survived bombs so I can get through any bullets that hit me. This is from all the work that I have done with Stella.    

I would recommend counselling to anyone even if they only need to go once. Just try. I tried bottling my feelings up, it really hurts. There is nothing to be scared about, it is the best thing. The problem with anxiety is that it can eat away at you without you even realising it so having someone there to get rid of it is the best feeling.  

In April 2015 I got a Labrador, I was still with Stella. I didn't even realise it at the time but Stella recognised that from getting my dog I have become a lot more relaxed and happy. I wouldn't go anywhere without her, she has helped me cope with wars and with a just a lick or touch she calms me down. If I'm not with her and I start to feel nervous I only have to look at a picture and I know I will go home and see her dopey eyes looking at me.

Grace Burgin with her dog Winnie 3