Within this account I will be discussing a number of mental health conditions such as anxiety and OCD as well as mentions of illness so if this causes you any distress I would not suggest continuing to read this account. However I hope to use my experience to both raise awareness for and help people understand these issues that I and so many others face.
When my doctor first suggested that I try hypnotherapy in response to a number of vomiting episodes I had experienced in the summer of 2016, I have to admit that my first response was that of both confusion and also disbelief that this was the solution I was being presented with. However many months on I would come to learn how wrong this first reaction was. I must also begin by noting that this is an account of my own personal experience with hypnotherapy and therefore cannot speak for everyone who has faced this treatment. It is also important to note that responses to hypnotherapy can differ, even between those who face similar struggles and difficulties.
The morning of my first session with my hypnotherapist I felt a strong sense of anxiety. I had no idea what the session would be like or if it would help, also a slightly more imaginative part of my mind began to wonder if the therapist would make me do things I didn’t want under a trance, later I would learn that this was extremely far from the case and not how hypnotherapy trances worked. There was also another part of my which held the strong urge to try and resist everything that the hypnotherapist may do in order to try and almost prove that I, unlike most, couldn’t be put into a trance or influenced, which on reflection seems more harmful to myself and would not have truly proved anything.
In total it took me around three separate one hour sessions with the hypnotherapist in order to finally not only put a stop to these episodes but also find the cause of them. It turned out that the route of the issue had been that after one incident in which during a meal at a restaurant, at which time I had already been ill, had thrown up after my meal. However instead of recognising that the reason for this was my previous illness, my subconscious had made the link instead between my being sick and the fact that I had been dining out in a restaurant. This had led my subconscious to believe that whenever I was eating in a restaurant I should in turn be sick as it was a quite possibly dangerous situation, although my rational and conscious brain knew this to not be the case.
So aided by my hypnotherapist I undertook a number of exercises in which we attempted to break this link. Although not as quick of a process as I once thought and also one which was both emotionally and mentally draining, eventually through communication with my subconscious during a number of trance like states, I was finally able to break that bond. I went for another session a little while later to reaffirm this broken bond after a number of visits to restaurants which had ended incident free and to this day I have not had another episode whilst eating out. However little did I know that this was only just the beginning of my journey with hypnotherapy.
It was then almost a year and a half before I would, once again, end up in the hypnotherapists office. Except this time rather than an obvious expression of the misconceptions of my subconscious it was an overwhelming feeling of dread that I had felt whenever I had gone to school in my last year and during my a-levels which has caused my to become tired and constantly worn out which had caused me to once again seek the help of the hypnotherapist.
However, unlike my first reason of visit, this was not so straight forward. The more I discussed the possible route of my issues the more and more we seemed to uncover. It forced my to face a lot of truths about myself that I both had not realised and also some that I had also not wanted to admit to. After two hour long sessions the route of my struggles appeared to have been caused by underlying anxiety, especially social anxiety which I had suspected for some time yet had never wanted to address, and OCD a disorder that I never would have thought I had yet the more I learnt about, the more I realised that it had been with me for some time.
I believe that the reason for my initial disbelief had stemmed from the fact that I had very little true understanding of what OCD was. Whilst I knew it stood for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, what I most related it to was those who expressed it through methods such as obsessive cleaning which is how it is often presented through common media. I would then learn how it is that sense one gets that something must be done in a certain way and then way that one may sometimes try and do whatever they can, as I did, in order to make sure that the feel as though they have complete control of those around them.
Although I could go into much more detail, this is just a brief overview of how my OCD expressed itself as it is a condition which can appear drastically different in different people. The main route for my was control and the sense of comfort that my subconscious believed would come from that control, even if the ways in which it believed control was gained appeared on the surface rather absurd. This included only beginning work such as revision on the hour or quarter to, past or half of it and if this time was missed I would wait sometimes for up to fourteen minutes for the next time. In addition I would also have to fold up every other wrapper, piece of paper and tissue I used, even if I was to immediately throw it away as well as when pegging our laundry ensuring that each side of the drier had matching pegs. These were things that I knew I did however it was only when challenged by the hypnotherapist not to, I realised that they were not just habits but compulsions.
There were also more subtle ways in which my OCD was expressed that I had no idea I did until reflection within a trance like state. This included, what was most difficult to me to come to terms with, what can only be described as the subtle manipulation of those around me, especially friends, in order to get my own way. However I had no idea of doing this and it was never done it of spite but instead out of my subconscious believing it was the only way that people would like my ideas and want to agree with me. The main way this was done if that without realising I would actively find faults that I knew people would agree with in ideas I did not feel comfortable with, as my anxiety did not let me just state this uneasiness, and instead point out how great another option was whether I had come up with it or not, in hopes that this other option would be chosen instead.
For me combatting these issues is still an ongoing process however I can say that even just a few months on, thanks to hypnotherapy I am in a much better place. One of the most useful techniques that my hypnotherapist has used is the separation of me as myself and the issues and struggles I have. This separation has allowed me to see that I should not blame myself but instead look at these issues as a separate entity, one I hope to eventually become completely free of. Through going through and contrasting the motives of my OCD compared to my own as well as seeing how the ways in which my OCD tries to achieve these goals are illogical and in many cases absurd. I have been able to begin to calm my compulsions, this has also been aided by the tapping technique which uses pressure points in order to achieve a sense of calmness and is often used by those with phobias.
So this is my journey so far with hypnotherapy and I can honestly say with no exaggeration that it has changed my life so much for the better and I honestly believe that I have grown so much from my experience. However like I had previously stated this is still an ongoing journey for me and I am sure that I will face issues in the future, however I finally believe that I have found my own personal best way of dealing with it.
I would love to know whether any of you have tried hypnotherapy and what your experience is like as well as whether anyone plans on trying it in the future. I cannot speak for everyone and I am sure that people have attempted this type of therapy and it has not been as successful as it has been for me, but I believe that more awareness should be made for it as before it was suggested by my doctor I had no idea it had even existed. If you are considering it or have any more questions I would recommend either asking your doctor and if you want to learn more trying some of these organisations I have listed below.