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Posts Tagged ‘Nadiya Hussain’

I recently watched Nadiya’s very moving account of her experience in battling anxiety. The programme is still available on iPlayer and is well-worth watching , living up to all the site’s description of it claims:

Since Nadiya Hussain won Bake Off in 2015 she’s rarely been off our screens. But behind the scenes Nadiya suffers from extreme anxiety and debilitating panic attacks, which she’s had since childhood. For decades, she has kept her anxiety a secret, ashamed to speak out.

She’s never had a proper diagnosis but thinks she has an anxiety disorder, and with around 5 million people suffering from the condition in the UK, Nadiya is not alone.

In this one-off documentary for BBC One, Nadiya sets out to find the cause of her anxiety, exploring the most effective, available treatments, whilst having therapy herself, in the hope of managing her anxiety.

. . . .

Raw, open and honest, this documentary will speak to the millions of people in the UK suffering with anxiety disorders, shining a light and starting a debate about an increasingly pressing issue.

At the time of writing, I’ve still to catch up on David Harewood’s story, but intend to do so as soon as possible.

By some strange coincidence, when I was copying a presentation to a memory stick, I discovered a letter I’d written to someone I was working with who was battling anxiety. The feedback I gave, on the basis of work we had recently done, was very similar to that given by Nadiya’s therapist at one point. My letter dates from 2002 and I have absolutely no idea why it was on the memory stick. I thought it worth sharing here, with all identifying content removed.

I have been doing some thinking since the last time we met.  It seemed a good idea to put down on paper the core ideas that we developed over the last two sessions.  So here goes. If I don’t make things clear, we will have a chance to discuss it next time and we can improve on this first draft.

On the 26thof June we talked about the idea that the original horrible events were like an explosion and that the experiences that you have had since, at least in some respects, are more like echoes of the original explosion rather than new explosions in themselves.  We talked about how important it is to be able to distinguish between a new explosion and an old echo.  They can sound very much alike under certain conditions and at certain times. Distinguishing between them can be very difficult.

In the session that we had on the 2ndof July, I felt very strongly that we had moved further down a very constructive road.  This was very encouraging.

We drew a diagram – in fact two diagrams – which sought to capture what was happening.  We also sought to capture what might be a good antidote to the vicious circle that was carrying you down a spiral of negative feelings into increasingly horrible experiences.I include copies in computer form of those two diagrams.  I would also like to make some comments on those diagrams in case the explanation is easier to follow than the picture.

We agreed that as things presently stand, if nothing changes, you are caught in a vicious circle.  We agreed that the experiences that you have are very negative and very stressful. The stress that they create in you brings about very negative feelings which are often very powerful.  These are predominantly feelings of anger and fear. These negative feelings make your mind more vulnerable to further negative experiences of the kind that triggered the stress in the first place.

On the day, we discussed how the idea that these people who were so abusive of you in the past now have absolutely no power whatsoever to do you real physical damage by mental means.  We agreed that, no matter how the experiences you are having may have been triggered or instigated, they are mental events that cannot produce physical damage. Therefore, even if they are all a product of these other people’s activity, because it is all taking place in your mind no physical harm can result.

In the diagram I drew on the board and subsequently handed to you I realise that I have probably put this idea in the wrong place.  I have corrected that with the diagram you will see with this letter.

As I see it now we can turn the vicious circle into a creative spiral by placing this thought immediately after any stressful experience of those mental phenomena that are troubling you so much.  So, basically, if you have a negative experience immediately follow it by the thought: “These experiences can do me no physical damage whatsoever. I am safe to completely ignore them.”

This should effectively begin to reduce the degree of stress you experience, particularly if you find that idea credible.  If you don’t initially find it very believable it’s my view that repetition will make it increasingly credible as time goes on.  The effect of this will be to reduce the stress, which will in turn reduce the negative feelings, which will in turn reduce your vulnerability of mind, and which will ultimately reduce the intensity and frequency and probably the negativity of the experiences.

Obviously, and this was missing from clear expression in the first diagram, we cannot anticipate all conceivable things that might stress you other than these experiences.  So, there may be times when you will experience some kind of stress in your environment – for instance witnessing a car accident.  This increase in stress will momentarily cause an increase in the negative feelings, a consequent increase in your mind’s vulnerability and a probable increase in the negative experiences that are causing you such a problem.

However, if you can immediately realise that this increase of stress is the cause it will help. You will have the confidence to continue to assert the main idea. Because these experiences can do you no physical damage there is no need to keep on paying them attention, no need to worry about them. It is safe to ignore them. If you can do this you will cut off these experiences at the root and they will begin to fade and wither once more.

Our next meeting will give us a chance to go over the letter and make any alterations that can improve its usefulness. Once we have got a letter to which we both agree you might consider whether it’s useful to give your key worker a copy so that when you meet with her she can help you apply what we have planned.

I look forward to seeing you next time to discuss this letter.

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