(2021 - EMDR and chronic pain)
I initially started having EMDR sessions to explore using the Pain Protocol, having experienced a second spinal prolapse a couple of months earlier. This had left me in constant pain and unable to walk again. Sessions continued right through needing further emergency spinal surgery, and the months of recovery afterwards.
I had tried EMDR in the past and found it useful for working through childhood trauma and the continuing struggles that presented in adult life. However, I had never had sessions to target pain and connected trauma. Sessions provided a huge insight into how I experience and deal with pain, and it was so valuable to learn about myself in this way and understand what was happening to me when I suffered with my back pain. With guidance and support I was able to work through issues and make sense of so many things.
Although initially unsure of how sessions would work online, I was pleased to find that EMDR still worked effectively in this way, with a combination of audio tapping and physical shoulder patting. Having Beverley's support during this time was amazing, and her warmth, knowledge, and attentive approach allowed me to open up and feel comfortable even when addressing the toughest areas of my past. I can't thank her enough for the help she gave me, and I have finished sessions feeling a lot clearer and stronger as a result of seeing her. Thank you!
(2022 - Compulsive skin picking)
I have struggled with compulsive skin picking for over 25 years. This began at the age of 7 or 8yo with my arms and legs, then onto my face in adolescence, before covering pretty much every inch of my body by my mid-20's. I would spend hours every day trapped in a picking state, and when I wasn't, the urge was almost uncontrollable.
I started wearing TouchPoints (https://www.touchpointeurope.com/) on my wrists about 5 months ago, (alongside my individual and group therapy) and I haven't engaged in a single prolonged episode of skin picking since!
Overall, I would say my picking has reduced by about 90%, which is unbelievable!
I no longer feel like a slave to the tweezers anymore - and my cat loves them too!
(2022 - Emetophobia and EMDR)
Tamsin was referred by her psychiatrist for EMDR for her chronic fear of vomiting. Recently she wrote this:
I just had to email you to tell you about yesterday. My daughter, (now three) was sick 10 times - 8 of which were while I was with her. I held her hair, stroked her back, and by the sixth time she vomited, I was even able to watch it come out. She was sick onto herself and a towel each time. I cleared everything up by myself. I felt not one bit of anxiety during this nor felt nauseous myself after the very first time.
I also used my EMDR a few weeks ago during a car journey when I started to feel sick. I was able to take myself to my Safe Place with one of my nurturing and compassionate characters, then I cried with relief!
(April 2019 - BDD and EMDR)
I have suffered from BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) for approx 17 years. I came to Still the Hunger in despair as I really wasn't enjoying life and couldn't see a future for myself really. I felt I was just existing and that was it. I started off having individual psychotherapy and then after a while it was suggested that I try EMDR therapy. (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing - which is helpful for treating people with trauma, PTSD, and other anxiety type problems, including BDD). After coming virtually every week for nearly 6 months, I was shocked by how much I improved - to be able to wake up not feeling dreadful and anxious to look into the mirror. I am so pleased I found Still the Hunger. They helped me to start living my life again and I am so truly grateful.
Most importantly I now have the relationship with my mum that I longed for and never thought would be possible. I had my appraisal the other day and it proved that I'm calmer, more focused, and in a much better frame of mind. My boss couldn't fault me at all! Normally I come across as too negative and emotional.
If anyone has had a trauma in their lives, I would strongly recommend going to Still the Hunger for help! So, thank you so much - you have really helped me to change my life - I feel confident in my little soul and I never feel lonely or empty anymore!
(2013 - depression)
Before I started the support group I was struggling on my own with depression and anxiety. I had been signed off work for 8 weeks as I couldn't leave my home, see friends, or answer the phone. Then a friend introduced me to Still the Hunger and I enrolled. I was extremely nervous, especially worried about speaking in the group sessions, but everyone made me feel so welcome and put me at my ease that I was quickly able to speak about my worries for the first time. In fact the group sessions have been so helpful and hearing other people's experiences has helped me to feel I'm not alone. Through the work of Still the Hunger I am now able to leave the safety of my home and start to resume living a normal life again. I'm telling everyone I know who has mental health problems to get in touch with the team as they have made such a difference to me! My world has been transformed and my hope restored.
(2013 - health anxiety/psychosomatic symptoms)
Before I came to the group I had a general anxiety about life. I had an unhealthy obsession over illness and found it hard to face work. I hadn't realised how my mind had buried painful experiences from my past which now manifested themselves as anxiety. The group was able to help me work through these memories in a gentle way and I discovered how to take control over my own thoughts. I had been the only fella at first and I think it's hard for men to share their feelings. But we are better represented now. I think both Christians and non-Christians, male or female, benefit from the cognitive behaviour therapy on offer here. Still the Hunger has become a safe place for me and like a second family. I got back to work with the group's help, only to retire and come back to Still the Hunger as a volunteer! I used to help lead worship sessions on a Friday afternoon and helped out in the back office. I loved it! I understand intimately what's required having been through the process, and have a passion to see lives changed. I always wanted to retire early and give something back to society but never knew what I would do. The charity that helped me get back on my feet gave me an opportunity to serve others, which was a huge privilege.
(2016 - work related stress)
I want to thank you for the major impact I have experienced in a short time in accessing my feelings and remembering my deep feelings around God's love that somehow got obscured with the emotional overwhelm I had experienced from the accumulation of events. I'm still reflecting on how I lost the plot for a while and how to safeguard against it in future. It is one of the greatest feelings to be able to share what we feel on a spiritual level and it is a welcome and unexpected experience to find a place to be able to do that in the group.
(2015 - self-harm)
When I came to Still the Hunger for the first time five months ago, I had just been suspended from university following time in a psychiatric hospital for self-harm, and I saw myself as evil and disgusting. I did not want to be alive. After years of mental illness, counselling, so-called recovery and relapses, I was tired and saw no hope whatsoever. I felt completely alone, and as for God, well, let’s just say we weren’t really on speaking terms. I started to attend the sessions at Glebe Road and was welcomed with warmth, validation and friendship. I have started to feel emotions again rather than blocking them through self-harming. Despite my anger at God and frequent denial of his existence, the love and patience that God has for me has been expressed through the patience and acceptance I have experienced at Still the Hunger. I have been angry and rude, I have walked out, and I have not turned up on occasion but the group has always welcomed me back with open arms and without condemnation. Most importantly, through my journey at Still the Hunger, my faith in God has started to return and I know, albeit in my head rather than my heart at the moment, that I am loved, cherished and 'fearfully and wonderfully made', and that my identity is not in my past, my academic achievements or my weight. I have hope for the future, even though I don’t know what it holds. Before I arrived at Still the Hunger I felt so alone and like my life was in complete ruins but through challenging my negative thoughts and behaviour, I am now looking towards my return to university in April.
(Since writing this, Holly has completed her degree and is now happily married with a daughter of her own.)
(2012 - Anorexia)
Grace came to us with anorexia in March 2012 and has been fully recovered for some time now and even joined us as our youth intern back in January 2015! She has since moved on and is doing very well.
Every day I would wake up and wish I hadn't because I knew that until I went to bed the only thing I would be able to think about was food. Despite being so weak and hungry I was terrified to eat. I wasn't able to sleep because I was so thin that my bones would dig into me and I couldn't get warm. But the more control I took over my eating and my weight, the more control I lost over every other aspect of my life, including relationships with friends and family. I knew I had to do something before I had control taken away from me so I chose to do the Recovery Programme at Still the Hunger. I have been coming for ten months now and have started to gain weight and feel more positive. I have learnt how to differentiate between rational and irrational thoughts surrounding food and understand what caused my illness, and as I've worked on resolving these issues I've begun to get my life back. Starving was not resolving anything but making everything so much worse. Now when I wake up in the morning, instead of being overwhelmed by negative thoughts I thank God for my life and my freedom.
(2022 - Depression)
I'd been having therapy for over six years, before migrating onto Zoom along with the rest of the world. I'd be under-playing it when I say it's been life changing and life affirming. I had struggled with depression officially since I was 23 when it was first diagnosed (for context I'm 34 now) but unofficially it's been lurking there without a name or an understanding since I lost my mum at the age of 3. It was only when I got to my lowest point that I knew something had to change but I didn't at the time realise how big an impact therapy would have.
I'd tried CBT, had spent a few years on a revolving door of anti-depressants, so my approach to therapy was that it would fall into the same bucket I'd branded these - it would be a plaster to cover a wound I couldn't name, and just assumed would always be there. Thanks to the work I've done with Still the Hunger, if an 'episode' does arise, I know how to deal with it, and a lot of that is led by talking it through.
The idea of talking to someone, at the time a stranger, was daunting to say the least. As an introvert-leaning person this was never going to be my comfort zone but I found the time flying by each week, and was surprised how much there was to process. It was tough but over time it not only got more manageable but I understood myself better, why I reacted in certain ways, and was able to unpick these feelings. I will always remember my therapist saying that we would work to understand my unconscious brain to be able to identify its thinking and rationale as those thoughts arose. Essentially to make that thinking conscious. It sounded fluff to be honest but it was true. And so valuable.
This was just one of many, many small milestones that have got me to where I am today: Content with who I am, content on my own (which was something that I'd never been able to be), which rather ironically meant I was in the best mindset to meet someone who I'm now thrilled to be married to. It included hours of talking, feeling utterly emotionally and physically exhausted, trying new things like EMDR (which I found fascinating at the time, if not a little bit breaking), and being open and honest with my experience if others asked.
Honestly everyone should get therapy. I feel really lucky to have worked with Still the Hunger for this time, I would not be where and who I am today without the help and support I’ve had.
(2022 - C-PTSD)
My friend said to me “do you think you have PTSD”, “I said nooo, of course not, that’s for people who have suffered trauma like veteran’s”. He mentioned EMDR being something that could potentially help me, as a friend had had success with it. He said, “do me a favour, just look into it”. I must admit, I thought he thought I was a bit mad.
From around 3 years old, the abuse started, the hitting the biting the smacking, the shouting. This turned into more violence, to the point where I was beaten every day, often strangled until unconscious, and stamped on and kicked. There were times I was dropped to the floor like a ragdoll, the room spinning, and I would see the light fading, something within me kept following the light. I would hear her scream, why you won’t die.
At 6, I seemed to have this inner strength. I said to myself “I will always have to look after myself, I don’t belong here”. One day in the garden, it was pouring with rain, and I was locked out. Often, I would be brought in from the garden at 2am in the morning when my brother got home from being on a night out. I was in a dressing gown with bare feet sitting on the swing, having been locked outside.
I was blamed for everything that went wrong in the family. At school I was known as stupid, I was paralysed with fear, if asked a question.
As an adult, I then put myself into paths of major challenges with work, so I could learn, I became a sponge. I found out I wasn’t thick, I was being recognised for my work, integrity, my kindness, and ethics which is my life’s mission. I try to give back in honour of the silent heroes in my life, to pass the baton of hope on.
My therapy has given me, through a few sessions the release and confidence to take the next steps in my journey. Who knows, there may be more to do, but right now, I feel I can take on the world now! I know I have a lot to be grateful for.