Around the time I was working up my nerve to fly to my niece’s wedding, T suggested I try seeing a hypnotherapist. I flew to the wedding (part 1 & part 2) without the benefit of hypnosis. I just didn’t have enough time to see the hypnotherapist by the time I had decided to try it.
But I’d gotten a good referral from my massage therapist, and I have been having terrible time sleeping…still. So I thought that was something pretty tangible that would tell me whether the hypnotherapy was working. Better sleep? Yes it’s working. Not better sleep? Nope, not working. So with the blessing from T–the title of the blog was a joke, really–I set up an initial session with the hypnotherapist.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from V (the hypnotherapist). I didn’t expect to meet someone so…mousy and insecure. The first appointment took close to ninety minutes, as we did a get-to-know-you-and-your-whole-life’s-history thing. She took copious notes–something that T never does–as we talked. She asked a lot of questions about my history. When I told her that T offered to talk to her, she said that would be fine, if I decided to continue sessions with her.
I tried to cram a lot of information into a little bit of time, relatively speaking. I tried not to forget stuff. I had trouble with chronology and timelines. I was open and honest. We set two appointments and I went on my way.
By the time I was ready for my first regular appointment with V, I’d been through some pretty bad health anxiety. I’d been nauseated and feeling pukey for a couple of weeks. That alone was enough to boost my health anxiety. So I went to the doctor’s office–where I found out my primary doctor was out of the country, so I saw a “temp” doctor–and spent twenty minutes with a doctor who quizzed me on everything. He sent me home with a prescription for anti-nausea pills, and had me go to the lab for blood work. The blood work was “unremarkable” (how I hate that term) he told me via my health care portal. I scoured the blood work, finding that my calcium levels were high. Without forethought, I did a search on google to see what that meant. I tried to only look at “expert” sites like NIH or WebMd. I found that the high calcium could be parathyroid problems (a tumor or something), or it could be a result of cancer. So I stopped reading. I left a message for the “temp” doctor asking if I should be getting a repeat calcium test because it was high, and a parathyroid test that NIH recommended. He said “let me know if you’re not feeling better and we can retest. I’m not concerned about the calcium test.”
But I’d read that there’s no other reason for a high calcium result except a parathyroid problem. It’s black or white. Normal or high. 1/10th over the normal is a problem. I contacted the endocrinologist office I’ve been to in the past (where the endo called me crazy) to see if I could get an appointment. Because I hadn’t been in over 2 years, I was considered a new patient. And they couldn’t see me until the first week of February (which was almost 2 months away). There are like seven doctors there, and of course the person with the availability first was the doctor who had called me a crazy person. I took the appointment anyway, because the waiting is so hard.
Anyway, I was all hopped up on health anxiety, so I emailed the hypnotherapist to see if we could work on the health anxiety rather than the sleep thing, because I was really struggling with the health anxiety. She said “OF COURSE” and so I attended my first appointment. I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to be hypnotized because I have some issues with control, and I worry about someone taking advantage of me by hypnotizing me. I know, it’s weird, but there it is. And I told V that. As we talked about what we wanted to accomplish, she said that she doesn’t really use hypnotherapy as much as she uses “light hypnosis” and intentional breathing, along with EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) to help people. She said she has a lot of experience with patients who have chronic illnesses, chronic pain, sleep issues, anxiety, all of which is wrapped up together.
I was disappointed. I wanted to try hypnosis a lot, but she IS the professional and I need to trust in that. So we went forward with her plan, and I had four regular appointments with her. The first one focused a lot on what she called my “resources”. People and pets (and spiritual being) in my life who represented different things to me. Comfort, security, love, acceptance, faith. Once we established those “resources”–with some brief conversation about my grandmother, which I’ll address another time–we did some breathing and worked on bringing those “resources” into my “heart-space”. It was a little…woo-woo for me. But I promised myself I’d really try to participate and engage in what she was doing. I’d try to trust the process even though I wasn’t entirely sure about it. The first session was over pretty fast, with me just concentrating on those “resource” people, and breathing in thoughts of what I wanted at that moment–calm and acceptance–and breathing out anything I didn’t want or need in my life. While I was doing this, I was holding these…paddles. They’re used for EMDR instead of the eye movement, as a lot of people (including me) can’t do that “eye movement” part of the EMDR. The paddles BUZZ, left hand and right hand independently. One, then the other, then back to the first, then the other hand.
The second appointment (not including the initial session), we continued along the same vein, talking more about my “resources” and pulling them into my life when I need them.
I wasn’t entirely sure about V for a couple of reasons. She comes across as insecure…often saying things like “I’m not sure I can help, but…” And I just felt that her energy was so soft. She seemed unsure a lot, and would talk about HER anxieties and how she disliked going to therapy (and was impressed that I was able to follow through with it because it’s hard to talk to strangers). She’s SO different from T that it was throwing me. Also, she didn’t really send me home with techniques to work on. No homework, like with T. Nothing to make me feel like I was “practicing” at home. It was odd for me, after so many years of CBT with T.
The third session, we talked about my experience with being bullied as a kid. She said oftentimes the imprint of being bullied goes much deeper than we can ever imagine. I wasn’t so keen on this session, because I felt like the bullying I’d experience didn’t impact me that much. The experience was sort of a blur of interactions melding together. But what it DID bring up was my issues with my grandmother…and in some ways with my mom. She promised to work on that for the next session, but as we continued talking about my growing up years and how I was bullied, I said that I felt like the odd man out all the time. One girl among three brothers. I was the only fat kid in the family. I was the sensitive one. I was the loner. And then we talked about how I repeated this as I pursued a career in a male-dominated industry. And how I repeated this by taking a job in a company where I was one of two females working a technical job (and the two of us didn’t work together…she was an engineer, I was in IT). It was interesting, mostly because I felt that there must have been a reason WHY I did that. Why I put myself in positions where I didn’t fit in with everyone else. What came out of that particular session was how much I missed feeling capable. The jobs I’d had were hard, they required a lot from me, and I earned a lot of respect in each of the positions. I miss being productive like that. I miss feeling the accomplishments. I forgot that I was that person. I forgot all the things I did, and the things I was able to do.
Session four was all about my grandmother, my mom, and where my feeling of “never good enough” came from. Next time.