Okay, so you are probably thinking I’m crazy. Honestly, when I was sitting in my hypnotherapist’s office, I thought I was crazy. My mother, who had used hypnotherapy before, had suggested I go after my anxiety started to worsen. I was at my wits end with my anxiety. I started having panic attacks before tests at school, I couldn’t speak to anyone on the phone, and I could barely make conversation with people I didn’t know. I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize and my stress levels were through the roof. After having a terrible panic attack in the middle of class, I decided to take my mother’s advice and at least talk to her hypnotist.
Disclaimer: Contrary to how Hollywood portrays hypnotism, during medical hypnotherapy the patient is not asleep and does not lose control over their actions. The patient is put into an enhanced state of relaxation where they are subject to the power of suggestion. When in this relaxed state, brain changes occur that make people able to alter their perception easier. Not all patients react the same way and some people are more susceptible to being hypnotized than others. However, patients that are susceptible to hypnosis have a great success rate.
I felt silly sitting on a couch across from a man who claimed to be able to help me with my anxiety through just one session of hypnotherapy. My mom and I sat with him and went over some of the things that were going on with me. He patiently listened as my mom talked about my anxiety attacks I had been having. After my mom was done, he looked over at me and asked if I felt nervous at the moment. I was truthful and told him I was petrified. I didn’t know much about hypnosis and I definitely didn’t know him. It was an anxious person’s nightmare.
He smiled and told me a few stories. He told me he had helped a woman give birth in a hospital and she required no epidural and felt no pain during labor because of hypnotherapy. He also told me about a few people who he had helped quit smoking and drinking by convincing them they didn’t like alcohol or cigarettes. I was still very skeptical and he knew it. He explained to me that it was okay if I was skeptical as long as I was willing to give it a try. I told him I was.
I felt like I was in a movie when I sat in the big chair and he dimmed the lights. I was a nervous wreck, shaking in the chair. He talked very soothingly and led me through relaxing my body. Surprisingly, I started to relax and sink into the large chair. My anxiety about the current situation started to fade away and I was so relaxed I wasn’t even thinking about how I didn’t have anxiety over the situation. It felt very similar to the feeling you get when you’re almost asleep.
He asked me to close my eyes and picture a control room. The control room was located in my brain and there was a large lever in the midst of all of the controls and buttons. A sign reading, “Anxiety”, sat above the lever and there was an option to change the lever from “Calm” to “High Anxiety”. Currently it was set right in the middle of the two but he asked me to move the lever down to “Calm”. As soon as I did a wave of relief came over me. To say it was the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced would be an understatement.
He talked me through a few more anxiety relieving exercises and suggested that I was able to calm myself down if I ever started feeling my anxiety creep back in. He also suggested that although school was hard, it was a place of relaxation and happiness. He then eased me back into my normal state and turned the lights back on. I felt great afterwards and felt like I had taken a great nap. My hypnotherapist gave me a specific recording for me to listen to for whenever I start to feel anxious and scheduled another session with me.
I ended up going a few more times after that and always keep my hypnosis tape near by. It has honestly changed my life. For the rest of the school year I had zero panic attacks and ended up graduating with a 3.9 GPA! I was able to be independent and talk to people I didn’t know. On the way home from the hypnotherapist’s office, I even called to order Chinese food and my mother was shocked.
Now, hypnotherapy might not be for everyone but it did help me and has helped people I know. Currently the National Institutes of Health is funding clinical trials of medical hypnosis. There are studies and scientific research that now backs hypnotherapy as an acceptable form of treatment for chronic pain, anxiety and substance abuse. I’m excited to see hypnotherapy be treated seriously as a legitimate form of medicine.
If you want to learn more about hypnosis or hypnotherapy and want me to go more in depth with my hypnotherapy experiences leave me a comment down below!