On Friday 11th December I had my first ‘proper’ session of Clinical Hypnotherapy with Celia Clark. I wanted to wait a few days before writing this to let the experience sink in and to reflect on it. She gives you lots of info before going into the session so you kind of know what to expect but you don’t REALLY know what you’ll think about it until you actually do it.
For reference, I knew there were people and dogs in the house. I didn’t want to be overheard and I didn’t want to be disturbed either so I did the session wearing my headphones to try and drown out any noise. Turns out they don’t quite drown out the doors downstairs being opened and closed multiple times… but were good enough. I sat in a comfy enough chair with my phone propped on a chair in front of me. I think next time I’ll level up the comfort so I can relax further. I digress.
The first thing we did was a visualisation as to what my life might be like when I get on top of my anxiety. If you’ve ever done a guided mediation, that is very much what this was like. Celia gets you to close your eyes and relax and then helps you to imagine what things would be like for you without anxiety. For me, this looked like a morning where I woke up and was excited and enthusiastic for the day ahead (vs now which looks like, “ah fuck it, another day”). I would be feeling confident and I’d know that I could deal with whatever came my way because I’d be in charge of how I reacted to it. Just now I feel like my anxiety controls my response, which is really physical as well as emotional/mental – neither are fun. I’d feel fresher, more relaxed, more healthy. I’d be making more time for me, with no guilt. I repeat, more time for me with no guilt. Throughout the visualisation two words kept going through my head: happy and confident. I’ll take all of the above please!
After the visualisation we spoke about the steps I need to take to start me on the path to achieving these things. I identified that these are:
1. Learning to say no (boak!)
2. Learning to recognise and meet my needs (hard)
3. Planning ahead to ensure I have enough time off (I can do this!)
4. Learning to manage the discomfort (guilt, anxiety, tension etc) that can surface when facing or doing the above (also hard)
5. Practicing techniques to regulate the body and for self care; self hypnosis, grounding, breathing (I can also do this)
Celia suggested that I practice saying things which make me uncomfortable to get my body used to how they feel. This is super helpful because honestly, just the idea of saying something along the lines of, “you’re late for your appointment today, I can’t see you now but let’s reschedule you for another time” rather than just taking the time hit and putting myself in a mad rush and playing catch up all day (and making everyone else late too!) makes me feel panicky. I know other people can do this without even thinking about it. If you’re one of them, I salute you. So, I have been driving around in my car by myself saying, “no”, “no I can’t do that today”, “that doesn’t work for me” and so on. I constantly catch myself doing this practicing but apologising as part of it, eg, “sorry, no”, “sorry, no I can’t do that today” and I am questioning my need to apologise for these things when they’re not my fault and actually, I’m just not bloody sorry! I’ll keep practicing. If you pass me in my car and see me speaking to myself, now you know why.
Next we tried out 3 different self hypnosis techniques. Again, very similar to guided mediations. I found the one with physical movement better. I’m not great at visualising, my mind is way too analytical. For example, we did one method which involved me picturing 3 letters, so, “AAA” in my head. I had to visualise them disappearing one by one before moving on to, “BBB” and repeating. My mind was going, “capital letters or lower case?!”. For the love of God.
Celia got me to use some tapping techniques during the final part of our session, which was a shorter hypnotherapy session. She explained that the tapping can help overly analytical minds to stay balanced between the left and right brain. I literally alternated gently tapping my left and right knee with my hands, Celia let me set the pace for this. This brief session encouraged me to go “into” my body and to become more aware of what was going on in there. I think this will be really useful to help me identify signs of stress and/or anxiety before they materialise in something like HALF A NUMB FACE!
Celia followed todays session by forwarding me resources to add to my ‘toolkit’ for dealing with my anxiety. I’ve not had a chance to properly look at these or try them out but there is a breathing technique, tapping techniques and a few others. I think I’ll try these out and write separate blogs up on them or this one will never end! Also, I recognise the relevance of my “I’ve not had a chance” line…
I’d like to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me after posting my initial blogs. My mind has been blown by just how many people struggle with this. Guys, we/you are not alone.