When worry became anxiety, I turned to hypnosis

By Claire Henry

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a worrier, which I am convinced I inherited from my grandfather.

Going to school, I worried about who I might sit beside, the dreaded Friday spelling tests, and if my homework was correct.

As I progressed through life, my worry would come and go, some times worse than others. When I would describe what I was worried about to friends, they couldn’t understand why something so small would cause me such worry.

I was always surprised that I could cope much better with some significant events rather than small events that would not register on some people’s radar.

When I was 21 years old, I became unwell, and in the same week, a good friend of mine decided to take her own life. My energy levels were completely depleted, and my legs and feet had swollen up.

When a week of medication didn’t improve my symptoms, a chest x-ray showed that my lungs were covered in lumps. After six months of tests, hospital admissions and major surgery, I was diagnosed with Sarcoid two days before Christmas. My weight had dropped by a staggering three stone, and I barely weighed six stone.

I could handle this sickness quite well, and thankfully I made a full recovery. I worked for a few years and then packed my bags and headed off to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand for a year of travelling with my friends.

My worry was still there, but by now, I knew that it was actually anxiety and not just me being a worrier. I took medication on and off for many years, but I would stop taking it once I was feeling better on many occasions.

My close friends were very aware of my anxiety and knew how to word texts so that I wouldn’t worry. On one occasion, I looked at my phone and saw two missed calls from one of my best friends, and I immediately began to panic when a text popped up from her which read, “Nothing wrong, in Supermacs, do you want food?”

I thought that I had done something wrong in my head, and my friend was calling to give out to me, which would have been entirely out of character for her.

In over a decade, I had tried many different treatment options, including medication and counselling. Still, my anxiety would always sneak back and slowly start to make me overthink and worry again.

In 2011 after a routine eye exam with the consultant I had been working for, I was diagnosed with a rare, benign, and inoperable tumour sitting on the macula in my left eye. As this was a rare condition and any surgical intervention would result in more complications than any positive outcome, I was prescribed the wait and see prescription.

After one week of feeling sorry for myself and a good cry, I decided that it wasn’t the end of the world and that anyone could lose sight in one eye doing everyday tasks.

I could handle two severe illnesses and not overthink or over-worry, but two missed calls on my phone could send me into panic mode.

Dr Niamh Flynn
Dr Niamh Flynn

In 2015 I was tasked with carrying out some marketing for a sports psychologist who also used hypnosis to treat a wide variety of issues ranging from migraines, public speaking, weight loss, goal setting, and anxiety, to name but a few.

Dr Niamh Flynn explained how hypnosis works, but she could see from my face that I was sceptical so she invited me to take part in a session. I looked through her website to see what aspect of my life I would look for help with.

The words stress and anxiety jumped off the computer screen to me, and I thought Dr Flynn would have her work cut out for her, but I went ahead and arranged my first appointment.

On my first session, Dr Flynn asked me many questions regarding my anxiety, what made me anxious, what it felt like, and a comprehensive history of my anxiety.

I then sat back on her big leather seat and popped my feet up on the footstool. Dr Flynn began with some breathing work, and as I had my eyes closed, I became more and more relaxed.

I was fully aware of everything that was happening around me. I can remember listening to Dr Flynn, who was telling
me a story and giving me suggestions throughout the hypnosis session.

On my second session, Dr Flynn informed me that this session would be more complex, and I may get a little upset. I closed my eyes and listened to what she was saying and how I was breathing.

Dr Flynn asked me to remember that last time I was highly anxious and how that felt; she told me that she would count back from five and when we reached one, I would tell her about the first time I ever felt anxious.

As she counted, my mind was completely blank; I could not think of a single thing. Once she said one, I just began speaking, and I remembered being minded in my home by my grandmother, and it was night time.

I was scared and anxious as the metal frame surrounding our gas fire had come away, and my grandmother was holding it with a towel as it was very hot. Dr Flynn used suggestions and techniques to break down the feelings of fear, stress and anxiety. We went through this process five times, each time dealing with each episode of anxiety from my past.

All of the five episodes were minor incidents that had happened over my life. Neither of my two past illnesses came up or the loss of my friend to suicide.

I told my parents about my session with Dr Flynn and the different childhood incidents that I had remembered. When I told them about the fireplace, my mum said, “that never happened,” but my dad said it had, but he could not believe that I could remember it as I was only two-and- a-half years old.

Dr Flynn has helped me many times over the years with both my anxiety and public speaking.

In the past I would become physically sick when I had to speak in front of a group of people, but after a few sessions with Dr Flynn, I spoke in front of 4,000 plus people at the opening of Galway’s largest street race, The Streets of Galway.

I find it hard to put into words the improvement I have seen in my life since I began working with Dr Flynn. I have started to build a career around public speaking on the radio, and my anxiety has improved to a life-changing degree.

Hypnosis is not just for entertainment where someone is told to walk around a stage like a chicken, and there is a vast amount of scientific research to support the treatment options. Brain scans have also been carried out to show the changes in brain activity during hypnosis.

I wish I had found hypnosis many years ago and that I was not so sceptical about it before my first time trying it. Since my treatment with DrFlynn, so many of my friends have gone for hypnosis treatments for themselves as they have seen the improvement in my life. Now they too have experienced it first hand and have seen the benefits.

For more information about Dr Niamh Flynn and her Hypnosis clinic visit www.bodywatch.com 

For more Galway Pulse stories click here.

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