Anxiety is one of the biggest mental health challenge of our time. There are so many of us suffering in silence, battling our inner demons. But can cognitive hypnotherapy really cure us? Read on as Lilly discovers for herself that the reality is far from what you think.
Upon entering the building, I am dubious about the whole affair. My very first memory of anxiety was an intense moment as a teenager. I was sat in the bath worried about the fact that I couldn’t recall all the things I was anxious about. It sounds silly but to me, when things weren’t in order I’d panic-yes, panic about panicking. I clearly remember breathing loudly as I curled my toes around the bath taps desperate not to drown.
This feeling wasn’t new to me. An acute sense of inexplicable worry always lingered over my very being. I would worry that a friend had gone missing because she didn’t return a message. My mind would come up with crazy potential situations of her being kidnapped from school or her parent’s killing her. It felt like I had a demon on my shoulder who was ready to shout the most ludicrous of things at any given moment.
Depression and anxiety are intertwined at the most common health disorder in the UK. A study by The Office for National Statistics discovered that 19% of UK adults have some form of anxiety. Add in the booming student population and that percentage grows to 30%-that equates to over 12 million people.
Sadly, for those that do seek out treatment on the NHS, the options can seem rather bleak. The NHS has heavily invested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT, but the waiting lists are generally over a year long. There are private treatments available, but these can be costly and with CBT having no specific time frame for completion the costs often outweigh the positives.
So, what about hypnotherapy? Sure, we have all heard of Darren Brown and his school of crisis management but what if it wasn’t like that and it did really cure me of anxiety? I have discovered that hypnotherapy does not involve waving wands or watches, nor magic and brain trickery. It is relaxing and allows you to be open.
Cognitive therapy includes many aspects and techniques of traditional CBT in that you talk trough your issues to change your perception, but with hypnotherapy you are in a far more relaxed state which enables you to change your through origins.
During my first session I began to feel weightless as I was told to count back and forth whilst being aware of my limbs becoming more relaxed. I remember feeling so light that I could float off at any moment although consciously I knew I couldn’t, but it felt nice.
The phrase ‘going under’ is often associated with being anaesthetised. In hypnotherapy this means being relaxed and open to positive suggestion, it has nothing to do with being unconscious at all. I was told that if someone fell asleep-as they often did-they were nudged awake as hypnotherapy requires you to be conscious to change your thoughts.
So, how does it feel to ‘go under’? For me it felt like those last few minutes before you drift off to sleep-the moment when your entire being is relaxed and your breathing is steady-only you don’t go to sleep, you remain like this for an hour.
As I stood up at the end of my last session I still wasn’t convinced that I wouldn’t be attacked on the way home. My hypnotherapists parting words were “try not to feel different”.
Hypnotherapy is often used to conquer bad habits such as smoking and over eating, things that can easily be measured, but with anxiety it isn’t so simple. On a basic level we all need fear in our lives, it’s a basic human instinct we rely upon., but defining what is needed for survival and what isn’t can be a tricky process.
I spent the week between my appointments wondering what I would do if I permanently shut that revolving door of worries, what would I do to fill the void?
At my next appointment I was frustrated that it took me longer to relax than previously but when I did my hypnotherapist repeatedly told me that I had control. Of course, that niggling voice in the back of my head was telling me the complete opposite. I was even less convinced the second time, so I decided to get in contact with a previous client who had the same problem as I do.
Dave told me that he had the same doubts that I possessed but he had continued with the sessions. He said that after the fourth everything just slipped into place. “It sounds ludicrous, but it was like these feelings of control and positivity were planted in my head and silenced all the worry and fear”-and you know what, by my fourth session everything had indeed slotted into place. Suddenly I was a completed jigsaw. Strangely enough, I don’t miss any of it, I don’t even know where I found the time to invest in all that worry and fear.