What do you think of when you think of hypnotherapy?
Well, if you’re anything like me, your first response will be to do with the smoke and mirrors type of hypnotherapy that you see for entertainment.
And that’s why, when going into this new chapter of my mental health journey, I was so sceptical.
Talking therapy doesn’t work for me. It just doesn’t and so I decided that it was time to try something new and maybe slightly… quirkier. I researched hypnotherapy last year but I was in no place financially to even consider booking an initial appointment. But after a recent battle with the NHS’s mental health service, I decided now was as good of a time as any.
My decision to invest in private mental healthcare was not easy, nor a decision that at 18 I particularly wanted to make. It’s a huge financial commitment and when you add up the cost of weekly hypnotherapy and the cost to see a private Psychiatrist? That’s most of my wages gone before I’ve even considered paying my parents rent and my bus ticket for the month.
I’ll explain my whole mental health journey one day and further explain my decision to go private. But not today.
Hypnotherapy is commonly viewed as an entertainment act rather than actually helpful and at first, I expected someone with a pendulum telling me I was going to feel very sleepy…
After some research, I chose to reach out to a hypnotherapist close to where I live. It’s accessible from where I live and from work. So if it became a regular thing, logistics weren’t too stressful.
She offered a free initial appointment to discuss how it works and whether hypnotherapy would actually work for me. I called her, spoke to her and booked my appointment.
I’m a skeptic. I really am. I’ve read up on brain washing and thought control enough to narrow my eyes when someone suggests that my brain could be reprogrammed to no longer be depressed. If you’ve ever read Trance Formation America by Cathy O’Brien, you’ll understand why I was so hesitant to have someone even slightly tap into my subconscious.
Just Google MK Ultra and tell me that messing with someone’s thoughts is a good idea.
My initial consultation rolled round pretty quickly and despite being super nervous about going to a strangers house so they could put me into a trance, I have to admit I was pretty excited. It’s new. It’s a completely new experience- a foray into the unknown.
I arrived at my destination and was greeted by the lady who was about to become my hypnotherapist.
She got me a drink and we sat for over an hour talking about why I was wanting hypnotherapy and how hypnotherapy actually worked. She asked me about my life and how my mental health issues affect me. And then she explained the science behind hypnotherapy.
If you don’t know the basics of how a brain works, you’ll still think it’s all bullshit.
Luckily for me, I just happened to want to do neuroscience in Year 10 so read the first few chapters of Neuroscience For Dummies.
My hypnotherapist asks me to look at the positives and not think about my past- something conventional therapy doesn’t do. I’ve always hated recalling traumatic events and this allows me to get help without getting upset. Has to be a bonus, right?
It makes a lot of sense. She explained what our brains do during REM sleep and the role our subconscious mind has during hypnotherapy.
All in all, I felt comforted enough to commit to a full on hypnotherapy appointment a week later.
A week rolled around pretty quickly. With my return to work during that period of time and more personal issues to deal with, my appointment came around and I was STRESSED. Mega stressed.
I left work and took the bus from the hospital to Malvern. About an hour bus journey and I spent it listening to some 80’s New Wave.
I digress. This post isn’t about my choice in music.
I got to my appointment on time and we spent the first half an hour discussing my week and the good things that happened. We touched on the bad things but she was insistent that I look at anything that made me happy. It could be as small as just eating good food. She wanted me to look to the future and the positives rather than my issues and my past. Instantly, it was starting to look better than conventional talking therapies that focus on regressing on why you’re having problems.
Then we got to the actual hypnotherapy. I was asked to lie on the couch and was covered with a light blanket. She handed me an eye mask and proceeded to attach 2 heart monitors to my fingers. I assume they were heart monitors. Could have been anything for all I know.
So I’m lay there and she puts some relaxing music on. Instantly, I start to fully relax. She starts to talk and my mind shuts off and all I can hear is her talking and the faint sound of the fan in the background.
Now, I am skeptical as I said. I’d listened to the recording she’d given me before the session and did as she said- tried to fall asleep to it. But I take melatonin so it’s a wasted effort because I fall asleep pretty well anyway.
And I lie and for about 5-10 minutes, I’m adamant it’s not working. I’m lay, eyes closed, thinking
“Oh my god it’s not working for me. This is a waste of money. I’m doing this wrong”
All of a sudden, I lost 20 minutes of my life.
I honestly do not know where they went.
I know it’s going to take time. One session is not going to outright cure my depression. Any recovery takes time and effort.
All I remember after that is being told to wake up and come out of the trance. And time had definitely passed. She’s sat beaming, telling me that for my first time I’d gone into a really good trance and she could tell I’d actually listened to her recording.
I felt weird. Really weird. But a good kind of weird. I felt less mentally constipated and really relaxed. I certainly didn’t feel like someone had taken a magic wand and cured my depression but I felt ever so slightly weird.
After I paid her the £30 for the session and booked another session for the following week, I left for home feeling a little less miserable and stressed.
So what do I make of my first experience with hypnotherapy?
Well, I’m sure it worked. Even the tiniest bit. And that is something I cannot say for CBT or normal counselling. It’s definitely more productive. I hate reliving past events that caused me trauma so only being allowed to look forward instead of analyse my past is super helpful.
I know it’s going to take more than one session. I’ve been battling for years with this and one time is not going to make everything better. It’s going to take time. But I am definitely willing to give this a good go purely because I did feel an immediate result. I felt more relaxed & slightly happier.
I plan to record my progress with hypnotherapy. Part of me wants physical proof of how far I get with it and how much it helps and I want to educate people on what it’s like so they can consider whether it’s a good option for them.
Would you ever consider hypnotherapy? Let me know!
Lots of Love,