This is sooooooooooo weird.
Those were my first thoughts, quickly followed by the shocking realisation that I may have unwittingly joined a cult, as I scanned the room of 30 other curious souls all tapping on their heads and murmuring phrases simultaneously on a cold wintry day in Alcester.
I was on a training course with an EFT legend, Karl Dawson and I was slap bang in the middle of one of the darkest winters of my life.
I’d already experienced some periods of depression and angst during my adolescence and early 20's, but this was monstrous. Black, foreboding, lonely and seemingly endless. In my desperate search for help that didn’t involve dropping a pill every day (no judgments here by the way, but this also frightened me), I had come across this energy therapy called Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping as it’s now frequently known. As i started using EFT I noticed a significant shift in the intensity of the terrifying panic attacks I was experiencing.
When I say terrifying I mean that it was like staring death in the face every. single. time. So convincing were my thoughts, that my body responded accordingly and I ended up being blue lighted to hospital on many occasions. Mostly I got sent home with the shame, hopelessness and disempowerment of being told, once again, 'It's all in your mind love'.
During these early, frightening days I wasn’t in the space of asking ‘What are these panic attacks showing me?’ as I might be now, and more in the question of ‘Why me?’
Well, my suggested diagnosis from a wonderfully compassionate paramedic on my last hospital visit was post-natal depression.
Whatever it was, it was a depression so powerful that it zapped me into early menopause.
The Day of Reckoning
So here I am, sitting in this meeting room, tapping along with the rest of my 'cult', barely able to sit, stand or concentrate. This was mainly because at the very moment I arrived in Alcester my hip had decided to go into a deep painful spasm, mmmm yes, ideal you may be thinking. It definitely wasn’t. To Karl however, my consuming pain was a glorious opportunity for him to demonstrate the efficacy of EFT.
It was on day two, having had no sleep, that I hobbled in to the meeting room, cried a big snot bubble cry and told Karl I was going home, at which point he shared with me that today was…drum roll.....pain day.
Would I like to be the client, at the front of the room, with all the eyes on me, in agony, AND on the cusp of a looming panic attack?
Inside I could feel the show starting....the inner panic crew starting to prepare.
Cue - fast heart beat, catastrophic thoughts, strong sense of impending doom, annnnnnd ACTION.
Looking back on it now I can see the huge milestone in my recovery evidenced in that moment. I was away from my family for the first time ever, and in front of a bunch of strangers about to be tapped on, in public.
Exposed, vulnerable and in pain, I could literally feel all my fears standing about with their arms folded waiting, provoking and goading me into my most humiilating meltdown ever.
But I didn’t go into a panic attack.
We focused on the pain, my words, sizes, shapes, colours.
Within minutes, and I mean MINUTES, I was quite literally high kicking in amazement. Not because of the height of my kicks you understand, (I’ve always had nice long hamstrings) but the joy, the crazy speed at which the pain evaporated, and the consuming wonder of how my body responded so positively to the words. The rush of gratitude. The love I felt in that moment. Ahhhh. The relief. The validation. The empowerment and the potential that I could heal myself, and the absolute knowing in my being that THIS STUFF WORKS!
Wind forward 14 years and here I am.
Do I still experience panic attacks? Nope.
I still have some fear and anxiety arise from time to time. That’s because I’m human. As a human I have an inbuilt defence system that lets me know if I need to have fear, and sometimes it can be healthy and keep us safe. For those fears and anxieties that are less rational, I now have an armoury of healing tools which I whip out ninja style whenever the call to arms cries out. They are free to use. They are literally at the tips of my fingers, and in the careful and specific use of my words, and in the ebb and flow of my breath.
As I write this, and gaze back along the twisting path that brings me to this moment, I’m reminded of the Albert Camus quote;
‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
And my heart plumes with gratitude for my journey that started with pain, fear, vulnerability and shame, and took me on a path to freedom.