• A series of bereavements and a painful break up left Alexandra with damaged confidence and existential anxieties around death

  • Here she shares the hypnotherapy experience that helped her regain her self-confidence and overcome her grief

  • We have verified hypnotherapists on welldoing.org – find yours here

My need to find a hypnotherapist came when I broke up with my boyfriend towards the end of last summer. The break up was a result of my long-term anxieties around self-doubt, existential thinking and above all, a fear of death which was sparked by bereavement.

After I finished university in 2015, I lost my grandfather on my father’s side due to illness. Three months later, my grandfather on my mother’s side. From then on, it felt as though an awful lot had changed, and I began to think about the world like I never had before. There was lots of crying and sadness to begin with. In this time I just tried to get myself back together whilst accepting that I, unlike some people, seem to take longer to get over this kind of situation than others.

In 2017 I lost my grandmother on my father’s side to dementia. All of my grandparents were now gone and I was very angry about it. The grief had left me with confidence issues in what was already a 'will we, won't we' kind of relationship with my ex; I was scared to rock the boat with him (and others) as I couldn’t find the words to stick by what I wanted to say when I was annoyed. I couldn’t let out the anger which was building inside. That was more stress being added into the pot which obviously wasn’t the best thing, but my ex and I had already forged a strong bond and I simply couldn’t resist him. As Dolly Parton said, “All you have to do is smile that smile and there go all my defences”.  

Coming back to 2019, by this time my ex and I had settled into a proper two-year relationship, but the strain of grief was still upon me, which then affected ‘us’. I was still working my retail jobs whilst trying to build a career in the arts and keep my partner happy. I was also going over the same problems again and again with my grief. Over the summer he wanted us to move in together; this is where my anxiety really kicked in. I felt there was a pressure on me to move on with my life even though I wasn’t ready. To me, it was the next step towards the death of which I was scared. I had panic attacks about it and cried about all the things that I thought would happen to me as I got older (which includes the fear that dementia is hereditary). You get a job, find someone, move in together, live happily ever after and then you pass away. I just couldn’t deal with that. After a two-week-long worrying decision, I decided to listen to what my body was telling me and break up with my boyfriend. I needed to go away to heal and be myself again.

Starting hypnotherapy

This is where I needed therapy again. I had tried counselling in 2017 but didn’t find it very pro-actively helpful for me, which meant I just let things be and carried on as things were. On the other hand, hypnotherapy has given me the calmness to pick up the tools that I need to get on with my life again. I have less stress in my life as I am strong enough now to know my limits and back myself up when required. I stick to my decisions without having to constantly justify why I made them. I’m also seeing relationships with people in a healthier way by making sure we talk about our problems and don't hold anything back. I have no shame in talking about my problems, those that want to listen will and I have no issue with them asking questions, and those who don’t, won’t.

A hypnotherapy session is very simple. The therapist has a scripture they read to you that is based around visualisation techniques and positive phrases that you listen to whilst attempting to take a nap. The process takes up to about half an hour but if you ‘drift off’ then it only feels like five minutes. It is thought to be the equivalent of 3-4 hours rest. You feel relaxed afterwards no matter what the time of day.

The subconscious part of my brain needed to hear all the positive things that the conscious part of my brain was struggling with. A weight needed to go from my heart and mind; this is where the therapy has help me greatly. Hypnotherapy has calmed my subconscious of the anxieties I was having about death and has helped me get my confidence back. 

When I began my therapy sessions, I made myself drive past my grandparent’s house on the way. I couldn’t do it without wanting to cry but I still went that way as I knew it was necessary to expose myself to the sadness. That was in August. Now in 2020, it feels so natural to drive past their house (and to have a peek at who lives there now). I can do it without crying and occasionally I have a peaceful smile on my face. My fears creep up from time to time and now I wonder whether if that is alright and if I can live with it.

My general health has improved too. Grief made me feel tired more or less every day for four years, but since hypnotherapy has taken the stress away I have some energy back. I have recently taken up pole dance classes to gain some strength, confidence and more energy. My IBS has calmed down a bit (though this is still a work in progress) and my teeth grinding habit is more or less gone too. In terms of my career, my creative work is on the up and I am doing more things like participating in workshops to build my skills, network and to just learn new things.

Other things in my life are still a bit trickier to handle and for those I am still learning through my therapy. Here is where I return to my ex. A lot of the time I want to be friends because he was and is a very important part of my life and I constantly question why I should lose someone else I love. I am constantly balancing a few plates in this relationship and sometimes I am good at it and then there are times were I drop them all. The plates in questions are my own self-awareness; taking into account my ex’s feelings, general confidence and being assertive and not aggressive where needs be. Overall I am trying to break our repetitive cycle and not set myself back into a state of sadness. I am always asking the question ‘why should it be this way?’

I have no regrets about making the decision to break up. I have the clarity to ask lots of questions for myself (and to myself) that I didn’t see or have the words for at the time. I have been doing a lot of verbal self-expressing over the months and I know it is paying off. I no longer care but also at the same time I do but in a healthier way.

I am unsure where the next part of my therapy journey is going to take me but that is the exciting part!

Further reading

Why am I still crying? Identifying unresolved grief

Can hypnotherapy cure my phobias?

How therapy helped me after a bad break up 

Hypnotherapy helped me overcome my fear of driving

How hypnotherapy helps with anxiety symptoms

11 ways getting a dog helped with my bereavement