Alice G – Adaptation Practice has become second nature to me

I am a Probation Service health worker.

In September 1995 my life as I knew it was to change forever. That was the day I was made redundant from a job I had held for over 20 years. It was a major life change for me and I quickly slipped downhill as my moods swung from anger to despair from being hurt and resentful to my ex-employers to tears and sadness. This was not the first occasion this had happened. When I look back now as I write this I can honestly say that wherever there was a change in my life or a disappointment I would hide under the covers in bed or lie on the sofa overwhelmed by negative emotions, only this time it was worse, much worse.

As the emotions grew stronger I grew more frightened and tried to ignore the fact that they were there. I then had an accident and dislocated my knee, which meant long periods of rest at home. I was engulfed in anxiety having panic attacks as well. I was afraid to go out of the house in case my knee collapsed. My husband was doing all the shopping as I was afraid something terrible would happen when I drove. I was anxious all the time.

Whilst I was at home with the injury I began drinking heavily during the day time, eating pot noodles and watching daytime TV. My husband was by now doing all the housework as well as the shopping as I sat in my dressing gown all day. As soon as he walked through the door in the evening I would hang around his neck crying and fearful. Night after night I would talk about the thoughts in my head and what the voices were saying to me. My appetite was terrible and I could hardly be bothered to eat. From the moment I woke to the minute I went to bed I was consumed by thoughts, as loud as a jack hammer, and emotions, that crippled me.

I went to see the GP who told me to look upwards and outwards. What on earth did he mean? I had no idea what he was saying to me. How can you tell someone who is virtually in tears all day and suicidal to look upwards and outwards? I tried other methods including hypnotherapy, a clinical psychologist, and community psychiatric nurse. These worked for a very short space of time and as soon as something happened in my life, bang! I was back to square one. On one occasion after we had moved house, I nearly drove the car off the road as the voice in my head said “go on kill yourself”. “No” I screamed, “I won’t”. The emotions just engulfed me all day and night including feelings of fear, panic, anxiety and depression. I contemplated ending it all not, being able to bear it any more.

Once my knee injury healed, which in itself was another experience as I struggled with the lack of confidence in the after care for my knee, I went back to work, only in a different job. It was a temporary one in the old company I had worked for who had made me redundant. Unable to let go of the past I was trying to get back the life I once had in the place I knew.

Unbeknown to me though this change turned out to be the turning point in my life. One day in 1999, still consumed by voices and feelings of anxiety, I walked into the tea room at work. There on the table was The Times newspaper and it had been left open on a page which seemed to shout at me.

As I looked, it was an article about an “unusual therapy” called Adaptation Practice and the person behind it was called Dr Clive Sherlock. I must have read it about four times. It seemed to be a

light I was looking for in a very dark tunnel. I immediately rang the number and spoke to Dr Sherlock. Dr Sherlock explained this was something very different; it could help me and the rewards were there if I put the effort in. He told me he would make me an appointment for two weeks time.

Two weeks was too long a way off for me and so I rang again and asked him what I could do to start now. He gave me a timetable task to do with times for getting up and going to bed. I must adhere to that until I saw him. This was an almighty struggle for the two weeks before seeing him. On the day I went to see Clive I left my husband moving house alone. I was so consumed by how I felt I had no comprehension of what was happening outside of my head. Dr Sherlock discussed briefly my history and as I broke into floods of tears he continued talking. This was the first time anyone had not said “Oh dear, you poor thing, there, there”.

Armed with the AP notes for guidance he showed me how to open a drawer and close it without any effort after I had attempted to do it my way. It was to put myself into everything I did like opening and closing a draw, brushing my teeth. He said to follow the instructions daily and ring him should I need clarification. I sat on the train going home reading and reading the notes. The following morning I began.

After a sleepless night with voices telling me not to listen to Dr Sherlock I dragged myself out of bed and began to cry. Running to get the AP notes I read again to make a list of 5 tasks and one by one go through them. The kitchen was cleaned and cleaned and cleaned with every bit of effort I could muster. I forced myself to go out for a 20 minute daily walk and every day said to my thoughts ‘Not interested’ a hundred times. There were tears, anger and frustrations and a very clean kitchen. Slowly day by day I kept to the routine, tried my hardest not to listen to the voices in my head and tried even harder to feel what was going on inside, just as I had been instructed to do.

One month later I saw a glimpse of blue sky through the clouds. In other words I noticed a change in how I was feeling: only slightly but none the less a change. That was enough to spur me on and I soon realised that discipline and commitment were the key. I continued to practice through many difficulties AP brought me with Dr Sherlock’s guidance. In the early days at times I wondered what on earth he was talking about “Just practice”, he would say “it will come” and eventually it did come.

Nearly 12 years later I am still practising AP. Gone are those days of constant anxiety and depression to be replaced with days of happiness and joy. There are still difficulties in life and sometimes with AP, but I can now face them with confidence and determination and without fear or anger. Gone also are the manual jobs I used to do in factories to be replaced with a soon to be published career as an author and a manager of community projects.

AP is so second nature to me now that it is how I live my daily life it. It is the only thing long term thing that has worked for me and I would never consider stopping practising. If you are someone who is considering trying AP I would strongly encourage you to try it at least just for one month and see the difference it will make to your life.

Alice G – September 2011 – York