Holistic Centre for Body, Mind & Spirit

August 2012

Case study – Diana

All of the case studies you will read here are the experiences of real Anam Cara clients. They have asked for their real names not to be used to protect their privacy but all of them wanted others to know that problems can be overcome, whatever they are.

UNDERSTANDING MY OBSESSIVE THOUGHTS

On the surface, I’d been living my life as I wanted. But inside, I was getting more and more anxious, and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was becoming worse.

It all started ten years ago. I was cut off from my emotional world and had been for some time. Then all of a sudden, 18 months after having my son, I was at work and I had an anxiety attack. I just wanted to cry. I had never felt like this before and I didn’t understand it. I tried to ignore it but it just builds and builds, and the fear of it happening again builds too. Despite this, I went back to work the next day and said, ‘I’m fine’.

When I was trying to work out the reason for this sudden and unexpected anxiety attack, it didn’t occur to me that it might be related to having had a baby 18 months ago, to going back to work, to a relationship that was starting to deteriorate. My thought process was simply ‘It happened at work, so the problem must be work.’

I took some time off and changed my hours. The fear and anxiety kicked in again anyway. I got myself into a complete state and couldn’t go back into work at all. I gave it up and started to work for myself at home instead. This was the biggest mistake I could have made as I got ever more isolated.

Next my relationship with my partner broke down and I immersed myself in the practicalities of moving on and finding a new home for me and my two-year old son. A year later I met someone else who had children too, and was going through a messy divorce himself. This was a long process but eventually we had a child and married.

This was a time in my life when I was happy and busy but I was always aware the anxiety was still there, even if I was keeping a lid on it. But then the tears and sadness became overwhelming again, although I still didn’t understand why.

I had some therapy elsewhere to try and address my obsessive thoughts, which was a good experience but after a while the therapist told me I had finished and didn’t need any more therapy. In fact, I had hardly started. After just a few months the tears and sadness came back and I started to feel like I was going mad with my obsessive thoughts and no-one understood. I decided I had to find a new therapist but this was a frightening thought as I’d need to find someone to trust, someone who would understand.

I found Anam Cara’s number among others on Yell and I made a few calls. Sonia was last on the list. I was hesitant about calling, not least because she had the word ‘spiritual’ in her description. But I called and left her a message and she called back. I felt an instant connection – she understood my situation, she got it straight away. I could tell this was her passion.

I arranged to go to Anam Cara. It’s such a lovely place to walk into – like a safe home-from-home. I began by explaining what had happened in my life to help us understand why I had developed OCD and what I could do to address it. When I first went to Sonia, I just wanted to know where the Off switch was – but of course it’s more complicated than that.

I always go to sessions full of questions and usually end up coming out with the answers. As far as the OCD and anxiety goes, I’d say the therapy is 20% about dealing with the symptoms and 80% dealing with the cause. I still have to deal with anxiety, especially since my second husband left me six months ago and I’m about to head back into the workplace for the first time in 11 years. Life is constantly throwing things at you to deal with. The difference now is that although the anxiety still comes and I still don’t like it, at least now I have the tools to cope with it better.

As well as therapy with Sonia, I have also had acupuncture sessions, which have really helped clear my head. I don’t know how it works but a few weeks ago I was feeling really overwhelmed by my emotions and I remember being full of tears and barely able to speak when I arrived for my first session – and as I left, I realised the tears had gone.

Overall, the most important thing Anam Cara did for me was to understand, to show me I was normal. It did feel scary at first but therapy is normal for me now. It’s something you can never get from family and friends because there’s just too much baggage, history and emotion. People still baulk at the word ‘therapy’ but when everyone spends so much on their hair, hands, nails and feet, going to the gym and so on, why wouldn’t you want to look after the most important thing of all – your mind?