Human beings are living in a time of great transition.
The shift away from the medical model, to new ways of understanding how our emotions shape our day-to-day reality, is now increasing in awareness. We are learning how our emotions influence our day-to-day experience of life on earth. We are learning to understand how the heart is the power center of feeling loved and accepted, and key to happiness as much as the mind. When we are experiencing a highly emotive event, our mind embeds the experience on many levels with a super awareness, to ensure the event is highlighted and we pay attention when it reoccurs.
Using medication alone is now becoming outdated and this is an amazing time, but it is a challenging time too. It is a time when human beings are seeing societal structures breaking down and lots of change in restructuring happening very quickly. This is necessary in order to create new ways to live that are healthy and balanced. Often the focus with mental health is treating the human being. The emphasis is on the person believed to be out of sync with the world in some way.
I am sharing my personal human being story, as emotional intelligence and health is core to my life and what I am passionate about. I have often been in a deeply dark place because of relationship and feeling lost, lonely, and confused. Sometimes to a point of simply not wanting to feel the pain anymore and having run out of ideas as to how to numb myself out. Over the years, I tried several addictions to “numb myself out”, not even realizing at the time, that this is what they were.
Medication can take many forms such as food and shopping, workshops, and work too. Today, I am a 50-year-old woman with two adult children living near a beautiful pilgrim site, Glastonbury, in the South West of England. I am a holistic therapist and I assist people who are seeking a return to well-being, focusing primarily on understanding the emotional mind and how to work with it.
I am still very much a work in progress and open to new learning. I share my own journey as I have experienced times of great emotional imbalance in my life and that was essential to my path in life. What the ego mind perceives as the “problem” is also, where solutions are found: the keys to personal freedom. We really do have all that we need within us and the key is to go and search and find the answers.
I suggest people do their own research because this article contains only my views and opinions. I believe that it is one of the most important aspects of people’s personal journeys; that they are discerning and find their own way and truth. I believe it is exactly what we are here for at this time.
I grew up in a middle class family in the North West of England. My family was innovative. They had moved away from a sizable town to a brand new estate in a small semi-rural village much to the surprise of their elder’s. This was in the 60’s and it was “new beginnings”. We had a very good standard of living and traveled abroad quite often. My family was very open with me about their history and, as a child; I did not know how unusual that was.
Talking openly and sharing what were in fact taboo subjects, especially around mental illness and in many circles, this is still the case today. On my grandfather’s birthday, his mother committed suicide. My mother found her. She was nine years old. This had a profound effect on my mother and she had a breakdown. She could not eat or sleep and was obsessed with anxiety around death. Conventional medical frameworks at that time offered Phenobarbital or Electroconvulsive Therapy. These methods would sedate her heavily or use electricity on the brain to reset the short-term memory and remove the memories of the trauma. These methods are still used in the UK today.
My grandfather decided to look for alternatives and found a Hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapists were considered alternative at the time and still are in many conventional circles today. Hypnotherapy worked for my mother and she started to recover. The Hypnotherapist focused on creating belief systems that supported well-being and recovery for her, by creating new codes of consciousness in her unconscious mind.
These overrode her anxiety and fear to a large degree. She had a relapse and a breakdown at 19. Again, she returned to see the same person and again she made a quick recovery with further supporting well-being codes being reinforced. This understanding really helped me when I had my own breakdown at 22. I did not see it coming. I believe there is a pattern of relating that leads to a nervous breakdown in this way.
People experience their own unique process and there does not have to be a big life trauma to trigger this response. Here are some common factors: Living an inauthentic life – people pleasing for a corporate framework, a family framework, a romantic relationship framework and trying to be something that is unnatural/perfect/controlled. To be overwhelmed is to be doing too much and over stretching oneself physically and emotionally in an attempt to tick all the “perfect life” boxes.
This is a coping mechanism of the psyche to try to stay in control or feel like one has some control. Living dishonestly in relationship – experiencing abusive relationship and not feeling able to speak to anyone about it or leave because of fear and shame. Lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, or not being “the norm”, which is a movable feast, especially in today’s super-fast consumer model system, or being a highly sensitive person who does not want to hurt others by becoming the behavior that has wounded them.
t that time, I was in a relationship with a man who was very aggressive and had a lot of control and anger issues. He was an alcoholic. His way of relating to other people did not match my values.
I was at odds with myself. He was controlling about what I did every day, how I dressed, how I cooked food, my friends and many other aspects. This was over a period of 3 years. Over this time, he became more violent and eventually physically attacked me. When I tried to end the relationship, he would turn up at my place of work and try to persuade me to take him back full of remorse and insisting he would and could change.
This man had huge anger issues, which were always present and surfaced when alcohol released any control mechanisms he had in place. This type of behavior is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In my experience, any event in a person’s life that has created a huge emotional response for them and/or a person close to them emotionally creates Post Traumatic stress Disorder. I do not believe him to be a “bad’’ person.
People are not their behavior. This is also not excusing his inappropriate behavior or any other abusive behavior. It is also being realistic about people. People do what they know. Period. It is as simple as that. How can people do what they do not know? Human beings learn experientially and model what they see as children, which is why these patterns of behavior live on in generation after generation and this is key for understanding.
All human beings have the core potential to heal and love and to live from compassion. I believe this is happening now more and more as all the tools are there for people, ready to do their personal journey, to create well-being for themselves on an emotional level. Information is everywhere and conscious ways of being are becoming mainstream with social networking and search engines.
My first panic attack happened at 22. I was barely coping, had two jobs, and was stretching myself physically and mentally. I was hiding my true feelings and not confiding in anyone. I went to a shopping center, literally 10 minutes walking distance from my home. I went into a shop I used regularly and was very familiar. On that day, the shop’s layout changed and was unfamiliar. That was my tipping point. I was overwhelmed. I started to hyperventilate, became dizzy and my eyes could not focus. I left the shop and sat on a bench in the shopping mall.
I saw a police officer and thought about asking him to take me home, as I could not access any memory of how to get there. How would I explain it him? This created even more anxiety. I sat for what felt like hours, in reality probably 20 minutes. Eventually I had enough confidence and calmness to go home. Feeling shaken, I sought medical advice. In a snapshot, I went through the medical model and had my heart and my eyes tested. Then the doctor gave me some Valium. I took one and felt like I was in a bubble, which was even worse than feeling anxious, I felt like I was under water in a goldfish bowl remote from the world. I did not take any more.
I experienced continued panic attacks, tunnel vision, could not function, and could not work. I was also experiencing physiological ill health with psoriasis on my face and cervical cancer cells. My body was revealing my true state of inner being. Many people see this as something that can be fixed. I offer an alternative perspective now, that the body and mind are simply illuminating the outer relationships requiring a change in this unhealthy way of being. At the time though, I just wanted to fix all these symptoms so I could carry on doing the same thing, the same thing that had led me to this place of imbalance.
I was not consciously aware of that back then. This is the change of focus happening now and it is the realization that our so-called diseases are revealing out of balance ways of living and relating for the human being. My doctors were sympathetic but had no personal experience of mental ill health and again, this is key to awareness. They did what they knew and eliminated all the medical model scenarios using tests then gave me a pill to keep me calm.
This is holistic too, in a sense of looking at all the avenues to find a way forward and ensure the physical body is functioning, as it should. Medication does not alter any patterns or give any practical tools for the individual to use.
In my understanding, it is essential that a health facilitator in the mental health field has walked the path of the people they are working with; otherwise, there can be no deep level of understanding or empathy. I hear this over and over from people who have sought help from talking therapies and the person they are working with, has no personal life experience of being in their shoes so although they have the best intentions, they cannot possibly understand what that person is going through.
People sharing this perspective of a lack of genuine empathy have felt that the therapy has very little impact because of that lack of understanding. Academia is important and it does not allow the same deeper understanding as experiential learning. It is recognized that support groups work exactly because of that shared experience and, I hope this will expand to include one to one facilitators helping others to move forward because they themselves have moved forwards and understand key aspects of that process. It would have been greatly beneficial for me to know how my physiology created symptoms. This came much later.
Changing the breath prevents hyperventilation. Knowing how my physiology was creating a loop of symptoms with short breaths and how to break that loop, stopped the process and the panic attack in its tracks, and really helped me help myself.
It is good to find someone who has been there and climbed out of it and knows that we can too with a helping hand. Although we can fix certain aspects of our ill health, looking at the core root of what gave rise to it is the focus point. If this is ignored, eventually this will rise up again in a different form, as this is where the change has to take place. This foundation structure creates our day-to-day experience of the world. This is the root of all that is out of balance in our society generally and where human evolution lies.
I know now that this was the start of my personal experiential journey. I left that relationship at last and moved to London with another man, who is the father of my children. I learned how to cope with my symptoms and they happened less and less. I tried to learn more by reading around this subject. We managed pubs and had contact with many people. Some of the staff had mental health issues and one in particular had severe bipolar experiences. They were manic at times, spending hours being creative with bar displays and then going into the depths of depression with very little energy.
Our staff used to confide in us about their day-to-day ways of being, often they were far from home living in squats looking for the streets paved with gold and often had stories of family trauma. All I could do then was speak of what happened to me and suggest books I had read on the subject. I have always been open about my mental health experiences and this allowed the taboo to be released. I found once I shared my mental health story, other people opened up and shared theirs. We could then share our learning too.
Our lives changed radically in 1995 when I gave birth to our son. It was an amazing time for me, as I had never planned to be a mother and involved lots of new learning. I really wanted to be the most informed parent I could and started learning about psychology at evening class.
I was passionate about it and my intention at the time was to be a forensic psychologist. I was attracted to the pathology of psychology, which I coined “the dark side of human nature”. Our daughter arrived in 1998. It was a joyful time and a tipping point in many ways.
I would not accept for my children what I had accepted for myself in terms of the medical model. I researched all areas of health and started to look for alternatives. After studying psychology for a while, I concluded that there did not seem to be a great deal of change happening for individuals seeking help.
There could be many years of talking therapies and understanding of what created the trauma but it seemed that people were still experiencing the symptoms and not feeling or being free of trauma. I started to learn about NLP, or Neuro Linguistic Programming created in the 1970’s. It creates theories around how the human being learns and stores their life experience. There are practical frameworks to use from a variety of sources based on people who achieved excellent results in their field. It also includes shamanic frameworks from indigenous people.
It is very dynamic. At the same time, I began learning about Eastern frameworks of healing, using energy meridians. Although new in the West, Eastern frameworks have been extensively chronicled and used in the East for thousands of years.
I came across Emotional Freedom Technique in 2007 and was very excited with what I could achieve personally to move debilitating migraine headaches in seconds, even though I had not even started the training and only had a bare bones idea of the framework. I started to use it in all manner of ways with all age groups and found it so easy that literally children can do it and let go of trauma in minutes. At my first training session, a key part of the course clicked for me and made complete sense. The emotional mind is the fight/flight/freeze part of the brain and is a pattern matcher for trauma. When this part of the mind is activated, the individual literally cannot access their logical brain.
To overthink could mean the death of the person. Whenever there is a pattern match for a previous emotional trauma, the amygdala is activated. This created huge understanding for me as to why talking therapies on their own do not create a shift in emotion and behavior. The pattern of the original trauma is still there as is the emotion so the hijack continues. Using Emotional Freedom Technique changes this. As I started to work intuitively on emotional times in my life, using this framework, I got an amazing shift.
It gave me the confidence to feel more and start to come into balance with all my emotions. One of the biggest was anger and unresolved issues around that. I love sharing this information and technique with people, because it has changed my life and many people who I have worked with. People do not have to suffer for years or be in therapy for years. They can start to take action themselves and feel self-empowered. It is a simple framework and accessible to all. In the UK, EFT is now recognized and used as a Cognitive Behavior Therapy and is becoming mainstream.
This gives me so much hope and enthusiasm. I have worked with people in the past who had sad stories. One person fell in love for the first time in their life. This created expansive feelings of joy beyond anything they had ever known and led to one episode of bipolar disorder in their teens. Because of this behavior, their family who were unable to cope committed them to an institution. They had been on lithium to keep them under control for 40 years and were afraid to come off it in case it happened again. EFT helped them let go of this fear and feel safe around their emotional self. Again, this is not a quick fix; it is a personal peace procedure that can be used every day to move to balance.
I believe that people will experience what is known as mental illness at some time in their life. It is what can help us grow, mature, and make the changes required now to support healthy relationships. For some people it is a huge turning point. Some do not overcome these crisis points and this is hugely painful for the people in their lives. This is so saddening and my heart goes out to them. I know what a huge impact suicide had on my family. I do feel that there is always light that goes out from these dark points. The more we start to speak and share our shadowed dark times, the more they become acceptable into the mainstream. The dark side is where the light is waiting to return.
It holds the potential of new ways and understanding of all the aspects of our human being self. It holds new beginnings for our world and expansion of compassion and love for ourselves. When individuals love and accept themselves, then they can truly do this more and more with others.