Adapt or die. For 26 years, that is how I lived. It may sound extreme, but when you suffer from chronic anxiety—everything feels like a life or death scenario.
I don’t remember exactly when my anxiety began, but I do remember getting good at hiding it. My coping mechanisms showed up as compulsive behaviors. At age five I started pulling out my hair, at 10 I became a “germaphobe,” at 15 I adopted an eating disorder. Eventually at 18, I reached a point where I was forced to seek treatment.
I had no clue where to start, so I met with my family doctor. In less than one hour, I was given a high dose of Cymbalta, a pamphlet, a pat on the back, and sent home. I felt uneasy and uncertain—my gut told me there had to be other options.
The sad reality is, my story is not unique. Since the pandemic began, new anxiety medication prescriptions increased by 34% and new anxiety diagnoses spiked by 26% globally.
We know that mental health is not linear. So why are our treatment options in 2022 largely unchanged from those used in 1992? First, we must explore the “not so talked about” downsides of medication in healing anxiety.
Anxiety Medication – A Short Term Solution to A Deep Rooted Problem
At first, my anxiety medication felt magical.
All worry would quickly dissipate within moments of taking my pill. But after a year, it started to fade. The side effects became unbearable. I was emotionally detached, had no appetite, and no sex drive.
Each new doctor felt like a broken record. “Try a new therapist,” “Try another medication,” “Increase your dose.” It didn’t matter the drug, or the doctor, the outcome was always the same—I felt stuck, frustrated and numb.
My experience can best be put into words by leading trauma researcher Bessel van der Kulk, as he cautions the risks of drugs for treatment:
He continues by saying we must confront the trauma head on to overcome it, and medication dulls our ability to do so:
Eventually, my intuition paid off. I found Zhanna Bright’s holistic approach to heal anxiety with hypnotherapy and inner child work—and I never looked back.
Feel it to Heal it—Overcoming Anxiety with Hypnotherapy & Inner Child Work
I’ll never forget the feeling after my first session with Zhanna. Everything I had been taught about anxiety was backwards. It was both overwhelming and enlightening.
My “ah-hah” moment was learning that we are ruled by the subconscious mind. Your subconscious is developed from the moment of conception until about 9 years of age and accounts for 90% of your mind. Even more shocking was to learn it can only be healed through hypnosis or deep subconscious work.
A visual can best display the relationship between the subconscious and conscious mind:
Within everyone’s subconscious mind lives what is called “the inner child.” Your inner child is the embodiment of your younger self within the subconscious. Any experiences you had from birth and during childhood years can also be considered your inner child’s experience.
Hypnotherapy helps you access and heal the inner child, which can be wounded by past trauma, neglect or abuse. Anxiety is just one symptom of a wounded inner child, but there are many ways it can manifest. Other common signs of your inner child needs healing include:
- Low self esteem & constant self criticism
- Fear of abandonment
- Lack of boundaries in relationships (friendships, work, romantic partners, family)
- Constantly putting others before yourself & avoidant of conflict
- Feel guilty standing up for yourself & struggle to say no
- Driven to be an overachiever, people-pleaser or perfectionist
It became clear why my years of talk therapy—it neglected the inner child work by only targeting my conscious mind. Studies have found that as a result of subconscious work and hypnotherapy, patients heal faster than traditional methods and maintain these beneficial changes long term.
I experienced this first-hand working with Zhanna. After just three hypnotherapy sessions, I made more progress in than three years of psychotherapy. After two months of weekly sessions, I was off my anxiety medication entirely.
From Mindless to Mindful—Exercises to Reparent & Heal Your Inner Child
After my hypnotherapy experience, I know why drugs never worked—because they kept my inner child silent.
Hypnotherapy is the best way to heal your inner child, but there are many subconscious exercises you can also try on your own. Some of my personal favorites that I learned in our sessions with Zhanna include:
- Write a letter to your inner child and ask them – How do you feel? What do you need? How can I support you?
- Write a journal entry as your inner child – (if you can try to write with your non-dominant hand.)
- Bring back the simple joys of childhood – visit a zoo or a museum, play a sport you loved, listen to a favorite childhood band.
- Meditate on past experiences – revisit periods of your life where you felt silenced or unseen, validate the child and give yourself a voice.
As much as I wish it could be the reality – there is no quick fix to anxiety. But hypnosis can help you heal faster. It requires deep inner work, subconscious reprogramming and regular practice to maintain your mental health.
If you are on medication, start to evaluate your alternate options like hypnotherapy, inner child therapy, EMDR, and past life regression. The best advice I can give you is to trust your intuition and keep an open mind. You’ll be amazed to see where it takes you.