When my anxiety was at its worst, I was having panic attacks daily, and as I couldn’t go to any support groups/therapists due to it, I decided to look up some therapies online.
The first thing I tried was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy books. I had read amazing reviews online about how they had changed people’s lives and their big black clouds had dispersed and all they could see now were butterflies and rainbows and all that super neat happy stuff. Yeah so, that didn’t happen for me. The books are often huge, and extremely repetitive. Maybe these books do work for some people, and I am really glad for those that had good experiences and managed to change their lives, but mine however was somewhat unaffected, I was just left a little bit disappointed because I thought it would be some miracle cure, and that once I’d read the books I would be leaping out my front door begging for adventure.
The next thing I tried was anxiety websites that claim to fill you with so much anxiety related knowledge that your brain will suddenly understand the reasons why this is happening to you, and then you will be on the road to recovery. Again, no. Ok ok so it was useful to know some of the stuff about how anxiety presents itself, why it does, how many people are suffering etc, but again, this isn’t a cure, it’s just knowledge. And they usually want you to buy something.
The final thing I tried was hypnotherapy. I was super apprehensive about this one. The only hypnotherapy I had seen was programs on TV where people were completely unable to control their own mind/body and made fools of themselves. My hypnotherapist was a really nice guy, we made an agreement that he would come to my home to provide sessions, and as expected the first sessions was SUPER AWKWARD because a strange man was in my house claiming he could cure me of anxiety by tuning into my subconscious mind. I of course got so nervous about meeting him that I was confined to the bathroom for the first twenty minutes after his arrival (Too much info? Hey I did warn you of my problem in my last post). When I originally requested he carried out sessions at my house, he didn’t seem too convinced that I wouldn’t be able to go to his workplace and detailed to me how many toilets were in the building etc, so at least this disastrous first session justified my reasons.
Firstly he took some details about me, age, diet, siblings, periods (Say what?!) and asked about my childhood/parents etc and I explained the issues I was experiencing with anxiety.
After we’d gone through my life history, I laid down on the sofa to start treatment. At first I was easily distracted, when you’re laying in silence you seem to be able to hear every single noise possible, noises that you don’t even know exist, but I continued to lay with my eyes shut and listen to him speaking. Then BAM, I was under. I mean, I was completely aware of my surroundings, I could hear my neighbours child running up and down their front room (Paper thin walls!) but I just didn’t care. It is the most relaxed feeling imaginable. You know the moment in between being awake and being asleep, where you aren’t really sure whether you’re still awake or not, it feels like that. It was lovely.
The first few sessions focused on different things, some were focused on my childhood and experiences that I may have held on to that made me the person I am today, and some were focused on more recent experiences where I’d had panic attacks. The aim of it was to remember how I felt in the moments leading up to a panic attack, and get rid of those negative feelings that I associated with those memories. It is easier than it sounds.
Every week I would set a new target for something I wanted to achieve before my next session, so we could then go through the feelings I had leading up to the event, the event itself, and the feelings after. At first this was pretty simple, I started with small steps to places close to home so I could still dash out the exit if need be. Every time I managed to successfully complete one of my mini missions, I felt an incredible sense of achievement and it was a really warming feeling. But of course, I couldn’t make small steps every week, other wise I would never get my life back on track.
After a fair few sessions, I made plans to take larger steps, but it was harder than I expected. After a session I would feel super positive and ready to take on the world for the next couple of days, and I think I kind of took that feeling and ran with it, so I was then scared to make bigger steps because I didn’t want to feel the anxiety part. I did make a massive amount of progress, and it was definitely what I needed. Ok, so it didn’t completely cure me, but it opened up a massive amount of my life again. Before the sessions I was waking up with anxiety on my mind, spending all day with butterflies in my stomach thinking about it, doing a fair bit of crying and then going to bed dreading starting the next daily cycle of anxiety. Now, I sometimes don’t even think about it more than once a day and I can do a lot more stuff now than I could a few months ago. Because now I kind of know how to deal with the anxiety a little bit more. I know that I have not failed in any of the tasks I have tried to do, and I have gained some knowledge on how to kind of postpone a panic attack before it starts, and just deal with the moment rather than automatically think about the worst case scenario. Don’t get me wrong I still have a long way to go, and as soon as someone mentions the possibility of me going somewhere out of my comfort zone I have a mini meltdown, but my progression following treatment has shown me that there is hope, and that anxiety is just a small part of my life, as opposed to my life revolving around it.
I stopped my hypnotherapy sessions after having them for about 3 months, one reason for this was because although I did feel I had seen improvement, it kind of got to a point where I wasn’t making any more progress, and I had already spent a large amount of money on it. The other reason was because I got referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and I am not allowed to receive two treatments at the same time, because there won’t be clear evidence of how well the treatment is working. (I am still waiting for this)
So yeah, if you are considering hypnotherapy but are a little bit on the fence, I would give it a shot. Any questions, I will be happy to answer.
Look out for my next blog 🙂