New Year, New Hope
A new year is a time of hope, new resolutions and energy to resolve issues and change unwanted or unhappy circumstances, so to kick of the new year, I’ve decided to start with a collective of posts from our wonderful contacts at Old Town Hypnotherapy.
All the following short posts are true accounts in the author’s own words of challenges they’ve overcome in their life and how life has changed as a consequence.
“I believe the most challenging situation I had to overcome in recent years is a fear of being on my own. I think I can admit that really I have only partially overcome it, but that I could be walking along the right path to conquering it eventually, hopefully, forever.
My childhood was traumatic, but unusually traumatic. It was characterised by emotional neglect and control. My mother wasn’t at all like other mothers (though I didn’t realise this as a child) in that she wasn’t demonstrative and she had to control her environment in which for her to feel safe. My brother and I weren’t allowed to sit on our beds, or touch our bedroom curtains and we weren’t permitted to go to the toilet after she had cleaned it, not for at least an hour. If we became ill, she would tell us off, especially if we hadn’t told her that we had a sore throat, for example. We took cough sweets in our packed lunch boxes to school because she thought that would prevent us getting a cold.
I was afraid of my mother. I could not get close to her. She was somewhat cold and distant. Yet she complained that I was not affectionate. She was strict. I was never allowed a friend over, not in the house. If we had a babysitter, she was instructed to never enter the kitchen. The house was scrupulously clean. And my mother did everything for me. She was even still washing my hair when I was 14 years old.
I withdrew into myself and then I rebelled at school. I developed phobias and OCD at a very young age.
I ran away from home at the age of 16, to be with my much older boyfriend, who I had been seeing behind my parent’s back. And the freedom I felt was enormous! I was actually euphoric to escape from the prison.
But the problems really began then for me. My childhood had had a huge effect on me. I had panic attacks galore, lost lots of weight, my OCD got out of control, my phobias became more intense…it was never-ending.
I have experienced more than one nervous breakdown in my life.
My problems have been varied and extreme but what I wanted to focus on here is my fear of being alone, because that also came from my childhood. I was not encouraged to be independent. Instead, I was taught to see fear and danger all around me. My mother wrapped me up in cotton wool and didn’t want me to grow up. Leaving home like I did meant I suddenly had to. It was a shock. I couldn’t even use a tin opener!
But the emotional implications were that I feared being alone. I was worried something awful would happen to me and because I had developed health anxiety too, I feared that I would become ill on my own, and there would be no one there.
I could die on my own.
So for more than 20 years, I went from one relationship to another. These relationships were often abusive and controlling, but I had to be with someone.
Then I married for the second time and realised that I couldn’t stay with my husband. I didn’t love him. And I wanted to find love. I longed to be with the right person for me.
My husband was dependent on me and it was very, very hard to leave him. Harder still to know that I was facing life alone. I had never been on my own for more than a month since I was child, and I was now in my early forties.
But I had a choice. Stay with someone who did not fulfil me emotionally, spiritually, physically or intellectually or strike out on my own, in the hope that one day, I might just find the right man for me.
So after much worrying and anxiety, I left and moved into a flat on my own with just my dog for company.
And it was terribly hard. I became very anxious. I was isolated, without many friends and no family.
Yet I survived.
I can’t pretend I liked it, or that I became happier or discovered something about being on my own that I enjoyed, because it didn’t happen that way for me.
Then I met someone new.
And we fell in love.
He helped me to become more consciously aware, more compassionate than before and I changed into a new person with more morals, more empathy and more love.
Yet the fear of being on my own lingered. Apart from the spell I spent living on my own after I left my former husband, I hadn’t even spent time on my own during the day or night for most of my life. There had always been someone with me.
But the fear was about to be challenged. My partner worked full time, so I had to be on my own for about ten hours a day.
I thought it would be impossible, that I would become too anxious but I decided from the start that I would change my thinking about this. I would be okay, I would be occupied and I would cope.
And I did. I structured my day and when I did become anxious, I managed it through learning meditation and using distraction techniques.
Surprisingly, I do enjoy being on my own now. Sometimes I prefer to be on my own! My confidence has developed and though I often feel lonely, I know I can cope, even if I do feel ill or anxious.
I have been spending time like this on my own for over two years now.
Of course, my partner comes home in the evening and I am still isolated during the day.
But I have learned that your mind can be your friend or your foe.
I have much to still conquer and I ponder sometimes about the possibility of becoming entirely independent.
That could be in my future, it may not be.
But with courage, determination, strong will and love, I believe most fears can be overcome.
But with love and compassion, a better life can be lived.”
The most challenging situation I have had to face was losing my dad when he was 82 and I was 40.
They say you don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone which in dad’s case was so true; he was my my chief advisor, he always knew what to say, how to say it and when to say it.
Initially I was in shock, but then after the funeral things calmed down, however, things would remind me of dad, and I’d be happy, briefly, then I’d be angry and my anger would be directed at the person he’d made me suspicious of.
Jan 2015 I made the decision that I wanted to be the old me, positive the way dad would have wanted.
But losing dad made me confront so much about myself, decision making, who I am and my anxieties, I could go on but I’ve no wish to bore you, I think you get the point. As a result of dad dying I’ve changed so many aspects of myself and it is a continuing work.
I’ve learnt to rely on my own counsel, learnt about my emotional and intellectual selves,
I’d say in the 4 years since he left us, I’ve learnt more about myself than the previous 40 years
“Having been asked to give an example of a challenge that I had overcome, I had to sit down and have a think.
As a depression sufferer for many years, fellow sufferers I’m sure will agree that whether we are feeling well or not, everyday is like a walking on a tightrope, desperately hoping that the day will go smoothly. And we also hope that we can meet whatever challenges come our way. Any number of daily tasks which ‘normal’ people wouldn’t think twice about, can send us reeling into anxiety and give us sleepless nights.
So the best example I can give is from last Sunday when as a trained choral singer for nearly 30 years, I was asked to perform a solo to a packed audience in a candlelit Christmas service.
Over the years I have done many solo performances as well as with various groups and yet every time I perform alone the same thing happens – whilst standing there onstage I feel sudden frozen inside, a sense of impending failure as I look out onto the optimistic faces of my audience.
Sunday was no different, as I looked out to my audience, a sea of faces lit by candle light in a huge echoing old church, I froze inside. Millions of thoughts raced through my mind as my heart thumped quickly within my chest. Would I sing a wrong note accidentally? What If I breathed in the wrong place? What if my voice gave out? What if!!
This was my challenge.
So why would I put myself through this?
Easy. Music is my greatest passion, it defines me. When I sing I am able to block those negative and anxious thoughts which everyday I struggle to quieten. Despite those little nagging voices, I know 100% that I am a very capable singer and able to rise to many difficult musical scenarios. I feel on top of the world, invincible and untouchable when my clear notes soar to the back of the church. I feel complete, and happy, so very happy.
So on Sunday I did what I normally do, and just told myself that nothing would go wrong, that I was in control – not my illness. I reminded myself as I stood there in those few seconds before, that I loved doing this, and as long as I connected to the music, acted the part and just enjoyed and cherished every moment, all would be just fine.
And it was of course. As if the experience wasn’t enough of a gift, the exhilaration and complete satisfaction after the performance was amazing.
What can I teach you from this? You may not be a singer, but every single one of you that reads this has a skill, a skill that makes you feel just as amazing. Whether its being a mother, a best friend to someone in need or you are a CEO of a company, you’ve got this! Doing something that you have so much enjoyment for is the perfect antidote to depression, it reminds us that we are not useless, that we are worthwhile, and that we can do anything we can put our minds to.
You deserve to be happy. The next time you have a challenge ask yourself why you are doing it and what you want to get out of it. Even if its not something you have chosen to do, grab that opportunity.
I can honestly say that whatever challenges I have, however uncomfortable they have been I have grown as a person, I have realised I can achieve more than I give myself credit for. Sometimes it takes a difficult time to force you to stand up and shine.
Maybe there is something you have always wanted to try? I would strongly recommend that you go for it and follow your dreams. After all what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not a failure if you have made the effort to try.
Whoever you are that is reading this, I hope dearly that I can inspire you to stand up tall when something seemingly insurmountable happens, I hope you can take control of the situation and not let it control you.
My wishes for you dear readers as we come into 2017, is that you can find your time to shine, a place where depression cannot touch you and you feel invincible too.
Be the stars that you are.
Love and light
“The most challenging thing Ive had to deal with lately is that my Raynaud`s and sclerodermaa symptom’s are getting worse I’m suffering more with chest pain, struggle to swallow, tiredness, thickening of the skin, numbness in my hands and feet along with other things. I have been told that I’m needing a form of chemo to help control the symptom`s that in it`s self is a huge thing to deal with hair loss, what reaction will I have etc? Its taken 4 month to get my head around things a little.
I suffer with depression and anxiety which was on a good level before this; I’ve taken a few steps back in the first few weeks, blaming myself as I have no control over my body, low mood etc…
The way Im dealing with it is to try and put it in the little box in the back of my mind trying to focus on work I work In a school and ceramic café, my Nephews ( 5years and 8 months) and Niece ( 22month) keep me going as with Christmas coming up there a lot of excitement building. Im not saying I have great days everyday because I don’t, I have a good support network and I live near the sea so a coastal walk always helps.”
I’m really grateful to Rebecca, Richard, Jo and Kelsey for being brave enough to share their stories, so inspirational. We all have challenges to overcome and often it does help knowing others have been in the same boat and learning about their strategy for dealing with life.
If you have an inspiring story of how you overcame adversity and challenge, I would love to hear from you.
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