Overcoming anxiety and depression is hard work, particularly if you have an aversion and cynicism to therapy like I did. I had a traumatic experience as a child, which took me well over a decade and some convincing from work to get over. When things got bad a few years back, I tried whatever therapy I could, mostly because I wanted to avoid medication. I worked with a counsellor and I was also introduced to a therapy, commonly known as the heart and mind method.
The Rosen Method, it’s official name, was one of the strangest experiences of my life.
You get undressed so that you’re in your pants/briefs/knickers/boxers/etc – like you would do for a massage. The therapist then touches you lightly as you go through talk therapy. What happens next is weird – but not in a safeguarding kind of way. Despite practising yoga on and off for years, it was the first time that I really understood that my body’s been trying to tell me about my feelings.
In my first session, the therapist was able to tell that I had a long history of being burdened with responsibility – just from looking at my shoulders. As I laid on my back, she asked me a bit about that, and as I spoke, she put her hand on my chest above my heart and observed how much emotion I kept locked up, in my chest. Well, that did it. The dam opened and I cried like never before.
And so embarrassing. Luckily, she’s seen it all before and reassured me that people react very differently to different things during therapy. Some cried like I had; others laughed uncontrollably. Throughout the course of my programme, I discovered my armour – the things my body did to protect me. For example, it helped me understand why I would make myself as small as possible during a panic attack, balled up and clutching my chest. It helped me to realise how much moving, having my feet on the floor and dropping my shoulders would help me fend off an incoming anxiety attack.
It helped me understand that whilst my depression and anxiety felt like it was all in my head, my body was trying to help, and it would suffer too during a panic attack. I frequently had knots in my neck and shoulders, particularly after I’ve managed to unbunch myself after a panic attack. It’s why my therapist was able to see that I had a history of ill mental health – my broader shoulders indicated the number of panic attacks and stress I carried. That’s not to say that if you’re broad shouldered that you should get help, but it was interesting to see. My frame isn’t naturally so, and my therapist’s experience could see that.
After every session, my body felt heavy, grounded. For those who practices/d yoga, it was the same feeling as coming out of a yoga session. Just with some damp tissues and runny nose (in my case anyway). My mind felt less cloudy and my heart felt lighter. It didn’t fix everything straight away. I saw my therapist for eight months. There are days where I feel I should probably go back. It did, however, give me some insight and tools that I only really forget when I’m having an incredibly bad day.
I’m not saying it will work for you, but I am saying that if you have panic attacks and/or some really old stuff hidden in there, maybe give it try. What’s there to lose? For me, it was some of my insecurities and ignorance to how much I really do beat myself up. And a couple of quid each time. But do you know what, I’m worth that investment. And I have sneaking suspicion that so are you.