Holistic Centre for Body, Mind & Spirit

January 2012

Case study – Sabreena

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.

I AM MORE THAN MY IBS

Before I went to Anam Cara, I had been feeling really stuck and really lost – lost from myself. I had become defined by my IBS. My life was not about me, about relationships, about work, about the future any more. It was something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Life was simply ‘there’, day after monotonous day.

IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome – had been dominating my life for years. I had tried all sorts of medical approaches and alternative medicine, and I had seen various specialists but nothing had worked and my GP had lost interest. What I hadn’t tried was sitting down and talking to someone.

I saw an advert for Anam Cara in a local magazine and I read that they could help deal with IBS. So I picked up the phone. I got the answer machine and was about to put the phone down when Sonia’s voice came on, saying ‘Please leave a message, your call is important to us’. It sounded like she meant it, so I left a message and we went from there.

Taking the first step

Taking the step of going to see Sonia was a huge challenge for me. It’s not something I’d ever done before and it was to talk about something difficult and private. Another complicating factor was the fact that my Indian background makes talking and sharing feelings a taboo subject. I have had to keep this to myself and not share with my family either my problems or my visits to Anam Cara. Unfortunately, anxiety like this is exactly the kind of thing that brings on my IBS so I was concerned that I would have to cancel my appointments. Then I’d be even more anxious next time I tried it because of what happened before – and a cycle of fear would leave me stuck and unable to make any progress.

However, I did make it to Anam Cara and when I started talking to Sonia, I soon discovered how everything – physical, mental, emotional – is connected and that my experiences and feelings were having a profound effect on my health. I felt comfortable with Sonia and saw that she did understand and she could help me build up a clearer picture of who I was. From the very first session, I talked and she listened. She read between the lines of what I was saying and helped me reflect on and understand what was happening.

Progress

I have done a lot of work with Sonia – some of it difficult, some less so – and I feel I am a very different person compared to when I started nine months ago. Other people have noticed subtle changes too, like I am much calmer. Sonia doesn’t actually tell you what to do and what to think, she guides you as you learn about yourself and your own behaviour – and how you could deal with things differently in the future. Discovering this for yourself is so much better than simply being told.

I have realised that I had spent too much time and effort trying to change things around me – my family and my work situation for example – but really you can only change yourself and not other people. I approach situations with a calmer, clearer mind and ask ‘Do I need to step into this?’ ‘Do I need to be involved?’ ‘How will this affect me?’. I don’t just act, I observe and consider first.

Interestingly, my IBS has changed very little, although my attitude to it has changed a lot. Seeing Sonia has ignited something in me that has renewed my determination to find a way to deal with it. I had given up on it ever changing – my GP said nothing could be done and that was the mindset I adopted too. I haven’t tried anything medical for three or four years but I have renewed hope now and have started to research the condition again.

I have also learnt to accept my situation for what it is. Previously, on top of the physical symptoms of IBS, I was also feeling the pressure of expectations. My IBS has limited my opportunities in life so I always felt like I was underachieving. I quickly lost confidence and stopped believing in myself and what I could do.

I am still seeing Sonia. I love to go to these sessions with her – I always wonder what I’m going to learn this time. Anam Cara has become a real haven for me.