Success With PTSD And Severe Anxiety
We met this client who was the most gentle and courteous person we have come across. It turns out that she could count on one hand how many times she had left her home in the past 3 years. She lives with her parents and is able to access online and mobile services to assist her in obtaining items that she requires. Her anxiety was so severe that she could not be in a moving car for longer than 3mins at a time and even then she became heightened and would experience a panic attack.
The client bonded well with Henry and we worked on different methods of mindfulness around the home and identified early warning symptoms and situations in which her symptoms increased. She identified her goals as being able to eventually move out from her parents home and become independent, attend the shopping centre by herself and also being able to manage her mental illness.
We moved at her pace. There was no point in pushing her into anything as she would provide fierce resistance, shut down and this would not keep with being client centred. I would allow her to lead the session and would gently add any suggestions I may have had toward the end. Eventually she was ready to leave the house on a trial run.
She had selected the local shopping centre as it was close, familiar and we chose a quiet time to attend. We made it to the car park and were able to walk around. She walked Henry which provided a distraction and also provided resistance in the lead which appeared to be beneficial. Our next session was walking around the shops (not entering). During this stage, her anxiety was so heightened that she felt numb. She stated that she wanted to run and go home but was comforted by the fact that she felt safe having Henry and I present. When it became too much for her, she was able to sit on a chair with Henry providing pressure on her lap and sensory input through patting him which in turn provided comfort for her.
We used the same approach when attending the GP which she identified as something she wanted to work toward. A dry run, using her strategies which we had practiced, followed by attending with us waiting outside. This then gave her the confidence she required to get a blood test with only her mother present and also to attend the dentist.
These tasks may seem menial to some people but this client had to spend a significant amount of time at these appointments given that she had neglected her own health for such a long time.
This client continues to strive for independence and is still finding the strength to challenge herself and has had some set backs or 'speed bumps' but I have no doubt that she will continue to succeed, as recovery is not linear but can be more like waves. You can succeed in reaching your goal and achieving and then find yourself in a position where you believe you are right back where you were. It is important to remember the achievements you have made and that if you have done it before, you can do it again and with each time that you do this, it may become easier.
My client continues to challenge herself and believes deep down that she is able to achieve her goals and we will be there to assist her along the way.