Below are some examples of how I have helped clients. All names and identifying details have been changed. Any personal connections you may draw are entirely co-incidental.
Enjoying Life Again
“Lying on my grandfather’s living room carpet, feeling like the weight of the world was pressing down on me was a familiar sensation growing up. I used to believe it was completely normal, everybody felt this crushing low regularly didn’t they? It’s only since living my adult life I’ve realised this is not true and these thoughts and feelings are the reason why I find it hard to be happy”.
Robert came to me wanting help to feel happy and fulfilled in life. He felt like experiences were passing him by and he was watching from the side-lines. When I asked, when do you first remember feeling like this (a common question I ask clients), memories of his grandfather house popped up. He couldn’t understand it though as it was a place of warmth and love. I suggested it was because he felt safe in grandfathers house that these feelings allowed themselves to emerge.
Like many clients, Robert dismissed his feelings as he believed he ‘should’ be happy as he had, to the outside world, a ‘happy’ life. Mum had remarried a nice man when he around 5, who he’s always called dad. He had loving grandparents, now has a loving wife and 4 children. His job isn’t wonderful but it’s not bad and gives him a decent lifestyle.
It doesn’t matter how good your life may seem on the outside, if there is part of you feeling dissatisfied that will always ‘win’. This is because the part of the brain that controls emotions is part of our survival mechanism and we are programmed for that to take over when feeling stressed. That’s why it’s so hard to think clearly when feeling very anxious or stressed.
I helped Robert understand that even though on the surface his life was ‘good’, part of his emotional brain didn’t feel safe and his coping mechanism had developed into feeling cut off from himself and therefore low mood. Exercises that helped release stress stuck in his body really helped Robert. This helped regulate his nervous system to enable him to become more engaged with his life.
By the end of our therapeutic relationship Robert had a found a new job, started up his own part time business (something he’s been thinking about for a long time), felt like he was in his life rather than watching it and most importantly felt like a good person (challenging negative self worth beliefs had been a big part of our therapy sessions too).
It was wonderful to witness his journey and see his physical appearance change as well as his emotional one. When people are feeling depressed their skin is often pale and facial features are gaunt. Shoulder hunched and avoid lots of eye contact. In his last session, he walked in tall, bright and engaged. Thank you Robert for trusting me to help you transcend into your next chapter in life.
Fiona came to see me because she had taken some time off work due to feeling highly stressed. She wanted to understand why this was and how to manage stress anxiety better in the future.
‘I know I’m good at my job, I’ve worked my way up to a high level but all these thoughts keep getting in the way and make me feel awful and then I feel I can’t do anything’.
Fiona worked in London during the week, staying in a hotel and lived at home with her partner at weekends. She was questioning whether this lifestyle was good for her.
I first of all gave Fiona some grounding techniques to help bring her back into the present. When anxious thoughts and worrying about every detail of life takes over the mind these resources help remind the brain and body where it is right now. When anxiety rules you are usually thinking about negative past experiences or possible negative future experiences. When you come back to the present the emotional part of the brain calms down and the rational one can come online again.
I also helped Fiona understand how her anxiety had developed over the years from the experiences she had been through. After a few sessions Fiona felt able to go back to work. It was more manageable than before but she still felt on edge and kept waking up early in the morning during the week worrying about the day ahead.
I felt some EMDR sessions might help uncover what was going on in her unconscious mind, holding her back from living her full potential.
EMDR proved to be very successful. Old memories of a stressful time at college came to her and we worked on re-processing the feelings around this experience. After a few EMDR sessions Fiona was feeling much more herself and able to live in her life rather than constantly worry about it.
When she did feel herself worrying her resources worked well to calm her down and focus again. She now realises she likes her life as it is and enjoys her time at work and at home.