One of the best ways to describe how I help people suffering with anxiety is to tell you some stories that clients have given me permission to share in the hope it will encourage people to come to me for help, perhaps before the challenges become overwhelming.
The stories below illustrate the implications of anxiety; it’s a mind and body disorder, so it needs to be treated in a holistic way. From listening to many people over the years, anxiety may have common threads like rapid breathing, or endless thoughts going around in you head, heart beating rapidly or being unable to concentrate or focus.
However we are all different, so is your anxiety: how it manifests, the symptoms of anxiety and how anxiety affects you.
You may see yourself in the stories below, or you may not! Either way, I invite you to come to Jean Therapy – I will give you time to tell your story. I’ll listen and help you clarify how you want to feel and how you want to live your life, and we’ll make plans for your future.
My first story comes from a university student who is 21 years old. This is a demographic that I see often, as both life and study can be the cause of overwhelming anxiety. She writes about a day she went into a lecture at university.
One of the girls started talking to me then she continued her conversation with her two friends. In that moment I had worked myself up so badly that I started to feel sick, my breathing was heavy and fast and my head was filled so much with negative thoughts it could’ve exploded right across the room. I started mildly hyperventilating – I knew I was about to have my second ever anxiety attack. I grabbed my bag quickly and without saying anything to the girls or my friends went up to the tutor. In tears I said ‘I feel sick I really need to go home’ and she gave me a sympathetic look and told me to go and look after myself. The second I left the room I burst into tears and ran to the nearest bathroom and couldn’t breathe properly. At that point I did not care who was around me, I was just trying not to die and trying to get my breath back. I cried the whole way to the car and cried in the car for about 10 minutes.
The second story is a 62 year-old woman suffering extreme stress and anxiety both from work and family commitments and responsibilities. What happened to Cheryl shows how your physical body can almost be trying to send you messages that you are doing too much, but you choose not to listen. She writes:
I was exhausted with the worry, stress and all the running around, and succumbed to a UTI, thrush, a nasal infection, sciatica and cold sores. Then, as everything seemed to improve with the family getting well, I suffered a suspected heart attack. I was struggling to breathe and felt as if I had a rope being pulled tight around my chest. The pain was excruciating and my skin was grey. In tears, my daughter rang for an ambulance and I was taken to hospital. My husband raced to my side, thinking I was going to die. I had monitors on my chest and body and they conducted further tests, including X-rays, ultrasound, blood and urine tests, which were not consistent with having had a heart attack.
This third story, a 28 year-old woman called Janet, is about living with ongoing anxiety and her body’s reaction, to blush scarlet in most social situations. Janet’s story begins.
Janet’s anxiety and resultant physical stress response was affecting her confidence and all she did in life. She was a mature student at university as she was looking to change her career. Her anxiety was, at times, overwhelming, resulting in the following symptoms:
- Becoming very red and blotchy on her chest and neck when nervous, and feeling the heat in the top or her arms and neck
- Redness would occur even when she hadn’t noticed or there was no anxiety source
- Poor exam results due to nerves during one examination – she was so nervous she couldn’t read the exam paper
- Frequent urination, which worsened when she had an upcoming event. It also got her up at night to go to the bathroom
- Problems sleeping as she would keep over-analyzing things in her head
- Suffering with lower back pain, neck pain and her whole body being tense
- Embarrassed about her poor posture
So as you can see from the symptoms list, life was getting difficult. The first thing we do at Jean Therapy is to find the start of your story, the switch that started the development of these symptoms.
Stress and anxiety started around 18 years of age and was now problematic, 10 years later, as being a mature student at university involved making presentations, sitting an examination and participating in work experience at a firm she would have liked to get a job at when she finished her degree. She had previously tried hypnotherapy, which had no lasting effect and was prescribed anti-depressants by her doctor, again with no effect.
Anxiety of the type you see in this case study has to have a multifaceted approach. An improved digestive system improves the uptake of nutrients, improving all aspects of body functioning.
Her (not obvious) misaligned body posture that was a consequence of childhood development gradually rectified during treatment. This illustrates the neurological changes taking place throughout the duration of treatment.
This young woman is now happy with herself and has much improved confidence. Her performance at university and work has completely changed, allowing her to put her viewpoint forward to people in authority. She still loses some sleep the night before a presentation (which many of us do) but the redness has gone and the nerves disappear when she begins to speak.