Case Study – 2 Day Individual Program: Andrew, 31, male, marketing manager

Overview

“My feelings have seen a huge change. I notice them more, I know why I’m feeling them, and I can deal with them. It’s the knowing why that has made the biggest difference. Now I know why, I can deal with them effectively, and move on with no major upheaval or long periods of anxiety and feeling down.”

“I think we should all know who we are and why we think and do what we do. The Garden Gate is a fantastic way to do this.”

“I now live my life by the plane air mask analogy … they always tell you to put your own mask on before helping others. I like helping others, but that’s impossible if I’m not OK myself.”

Did visualising your garden make a difference for you? “It made a huge difference for me. It gave something that I could feel, that represented me in that moment. What helped even more was the way I could take my garden and visualise what I wanted it to be in the future. This was hugely powerful and gave me the motivation to put what I’d learned into action … and I could achieve it through being my true self.”

Before: Age 31-40

Anxiety

 

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

 

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

 

Disliking the body

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

 

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

 

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

 

Caring for others

Drug over-use

 

Anger

 

Feeling afraid

Striving to please

 

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

Other:

3 months after

Anxiety

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

 

Disliking the body

 

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

 

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

 

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

 

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

 

Caring for others

 

Drug over-use

 

Anger

 

Feeling afraid

 

Striving to please

 

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

 

Other: 

Before

Andrew is 31 years old, male British and a successful marketing professional. He lives with his male partner and grew up living with his mum, sister and mum’s partner. His parents divorced when he was 4 years old, and he stayed with his dad at the weekends.

Andrew went to an all-boys prep school, followed by an all-boys grammar school. At 16 he went to a mixed college and then on to university. He had a small, but close group of friends, mainly from the Air Cadets which he attended regularly and excelled in.

Andrew knew he was gay from about the age of 15 but didn’t come out until age 25. Through college and university he had girlfriends, in an attempt to be ‘normal’. He feels this meant that he got “pretty good at hiding details about my life from friends and family”.

Several members of Andrew’s family have suffered from depression and anxiety. He felt he had always suffered from a lack of confidence and wanted to make a proactive step towards being more confident and happy with who he is, with the aim of not suffering from depression and anxiety in the future.

Andrew noticed that he often started social and professional interactions from a position of submission, making sure others needs and wants were catered for before his own. Whilst on one hand he recognises that this has helped him forge his career it has also meant that he doesn’t look after himself.

 

What aspect(s) of your life made you consider the Garden Gate Intensive Program and why did you decide to do it?

“I wanted to do the garden gate to get to the heart of why I am the way I am, and how to put me on a track of becoming more confident, and getting what I want from life. I had a feeling that events in my life have caused me to be submissive, which I don’t want to be anymore.”

What are you hoping to get from it?

“I’m hoping to get to grips with who the real me is. I’m hoping to build plans and strategies to support my growth as a person, and help me get what I want and what would make me happy without feeling unworthy or guilty.”

Measures taken to attend to well-being

“Very little. I can’t think of anything significant I have done to proactively attend to my wellbeing. From time to time I put time aside away from work or social life to relax and do nothing. I have often thought of doing things that I would enjoy such as picking up music, something that I did a lot of when I was younger, or becoming more involved in motor sport, a passion of mine, but the cost of doing so has put me off as I feel it’s more important to build a saving pot than do things like that. Going to counselling has been the most proactive thing I’ve done to support my mental health and wellbeing.”

Andrew attended 7 counselling sessions before the Garden Gate and has not had sessions since.

Well-being self-assessment

Andrew completed this self-assessment, showing how he felt during each decade of his life.

Age 0-10

Anxiety

 

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

 

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

Disliking the body

 

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

 

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

 

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

 

Caring for others

 

Drug over-use

 

Anger

 

Feeling afraid

 

Striving to please

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

 

Other: Parents’ divorce, living with grandma away from friends

Age 11-20

Anxiety

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

Disliking the body

 

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

 

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

 

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

Caring for others

 

Drug over-use

 

Anger

Feeling afraid

Striving to please

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

 

Other:

Age 21-30

Anxiety

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

 

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

 

Disliking the body

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

 

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

 

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

Caring for others

Drug over-use

 

Anger

 

Feeling afraid

Striving to please

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

 

Other: Lost both grandmothers, extended family breakdown.

Age 31-40

Anxiety

 

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

 

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

 

Disliking the body

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

 

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

 

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

 

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

 

Caring for others

Drug over-use

 

Anger

 

Feeling afraid

Striving to please

 

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

 

Other:

During

Andrew provided the following answers to questions about why he chose the Garden Gate Intensive Program, his experience of doing it and what he thought of it.

How did you feel in the run-up to the 2 day program?

“I wasn’t nervous about coming to the 2-day program. I felt a sense of excitement and achievement for actually getting this far.

There was an element of guilt involved in the run up … the guilt was that I was taking 2 days off work, and in my mind it wasn’t a good reason to take days off. However, this isn’t an unusual feeling for me – I often feel guilty for doing what I want and what’s good for me – living my life through what I think others are thinking.

There was a slight worry in my mind about what would be ‘dug up’ and how my life might be affected after. I was concerned that certain things would come to light, fit together and my life would take an unexpected turn, putting what I thought I cared about in jeopardy.”

 

There are 10 components in the Garden Gate. Which were the most useful for you? Which were the least useful for you?

The 10 components are:

  1. The Logic of the Garden Gate
  2. Who’s Garden
  3. Four Legged Chair
  4. Chapters
  5. Layers
  6. Rule Book for Self
  7. Communication
  8. See Your Garden
  9. Symbolic and Safe Places
  10. Your Garden Gate Plan

 

Did visualising your garden make a difference for you? If so, why? Did you expect this to happen?

“It made a huge difference for me. It gave something that I could feel, that represented me in that moment. What helped even more was the way I could take my garden and visualise what I wanted it to be in the future. This was hugely powerful and gave me the motivation to put what I’d learned into action … and I could achieve it through being my true self.

Having clear boundaries around my garden also made an enormous difference. From someone who lets people in and take control and influence over me, having something to fall back on and tell myself I didn’t need to let anybody in … it’s not theirs … was enormously powerful.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of the Garden Gate for you?

“The chapters and layers were the most memorable aspects of the Garden Gate for me. To see your life on paper, mapped out and in context was incredible and eye opening. It meant I could finally rationalise things in my life, what had happened and the true effect it had had on me in shaping my personality.”

 

What were the most 3 most effective aspects of the Garden Gate for you? Please put them down in order of effectiveness.

“Chapter and layers. Four Legged Chair. Rule book for self”

 

Were there aspects of the Garden Gate which you found unhelpful, disappointing, ineffective or boring?

“None at all. I would say to anyone who is considering the Garden Gate to go for it, and keep with it. I’m an impatient person, and some of the early aspects are difficult to understand how they will eventually fit together, but they really do.”

 

Was there anything you hoped to gain from the Garden Gate which was not forthcoming?

“None. I had spoken with Anne prior to the program and discussed the possibility of one divine result that would suddenly make everything perfect … and this was extremely unlikely.

For me, the program is a process, with areas of enlightenment and skills that can keep you improving for a long time.”

 

Would you recommend the Garden Gate Intensive 2 Day Program to others? If so, why? If not, why?

“Absolutely. I have already recommended it to people who have and haven’t already been through similar counselling or coaching. And everyone I’ve mentioned it to have said how great it sounds.

I think we should all know who we are and why we think and do what we do. The Garden Gate is a fantastic way to do this.”

 

Is there anything else you would like to say?

“Thank you.”

I can be honest and say I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times in the last few months, but it’s comforting knowing that I can my Garden Gate to go to put me back on the straight and narrow.”

 

3 months after

What measures are you currently taking to attend to your well-being? Please include details of self-help, medication, counselling/therapy, intervention from health professionals, periods off school/work, time spent in hospital.

“For me, the most important thing I can do is give myself a break from myself. To be myself, to be imperfect and to be OK, and eventually happy, with that. I have experienced a change in my mindset, and I have seen huge progress personally.

I now live my life by the plane air mask analogy … they always tell you to put your own mask on before helping others. I like helping others, but that’s impossible if I’m not ok myself.”

Having completed the Garden Gate 2 Day Intensive Program please put a ✓ next to any of the elements that you experienced now and leave the others blank. Please add any aspects of your current experience which are not listed in the ‘Other’ column.

Anxiety

Psychological abuse

 

Eating disorder

 

Suicidal thoughts

 

Depression

 

Physical abuse

 

Self-harm

 

Suicidal acts

 

Loneliness

Sexual abuse

 

Addictions

 

Obsessive thoughts

 

Low mood

 

Emotional neglect

 

Disliking the body

 

Compulsive acts

 

Social withdrawal

 

Physical neglect

 

Perfectionism

 

Panic attacks

 

Not feeling good enough

Bullying

 

Alcohol over-use

 

Periods of physical illness

 

Not knowing what to feel

 

Caring for others

 

Drug over-use

 

Anger

 

Feeling afraid

 

Striving to please

 

Sport over-use

 

Disrupted sleep

 

Are there any other changes in your life, feelings, body, sleep which you have noticed since the program? If so, please use this space to explain what they are.

“My feelings have seen a huge change. I notice them more, I know why I’m feeling them, and I can deal with them. It’s the knowing why that has made the biggest difference. Now I know why, I can deal with them effectively, and move on with no major upheaval or long periods of anxiety and feeling down.”

 

Are there any aspects you would like to work on in the future that weren’t included in the program? Where there aspects of the program which you felt did not work for you and you would like to work on? Is there any further support you would like?

“I can definitely imagine me going through another Garden Gate in the future when my life is at a point where I need support to get to the next level. For now, I’m happy, I’m successful and comfortable with who I am.”

 

 

Anne Lindley-French’s interpretation of Andrew’s experience.

Andrew has a highly successful career in marketing and has risen quickly in his profession. He initially sought counselling as a result of doing some very positive executive coaching work focussed on developing leadership to support him at management level. Andrew’s ability to put the needs of others first, understand their requirements and respond to them with speed and insight had been vital in building his career, however it appeared to be starting to hold him back in maintaining senior level corporate partnerships. Andrew knew he was working too hard and compromising his work-life balance but wasn’t sure how to do things differently in a way which felt professionally and emotionally safe. Andrew’s employers are insightful and encouraged him to explore how he could develop his core confidence to negotiate harder and halt his tendency to over-deliver at the expense of himself.

Andrew is highly intellectually and emotionally intelligent and very likeable. He exudes a sense of responsibility, trustworthiness and kindness. On meeting him it would be hard to imagine that there is any difficulty or strain in his life. Andrew’s parents divorced when he was 4 and he moved with his mother and older sister to live with his Grandmother on the other side of town. His mother re-partnered and the family lived together with her new partner, however the relationship broke down and they returned to the Grandmother’s house some years later. Andrew’s mother found the change difficult, she suffered from depression and anxiety and it took her many years to find her feet. As the younger sibling Andrew got used to looking after himself, and as the only male in the family he found himself keeping an eye out for his sister and being watchful over his mother. He became skilled at reading a room, working who needed what to keep them level and providing it as far as he could. Andrew maintained a relationship with his father at weekends and was sent to a private boy’s school a distance from his house.

Andrew did well at school, excelled in sport and became a proficient Air Cadet. He looked after himself, became self-sufficient in making his own arrangements and looked after his mother and sister. He realised he was gay at 15 but did not tell his family or friends, preferring to keep his personal details to himself and to some extent possibly fearing a negative reaction from his father. Andrew has always had a close and strong group of friends, to whom he is highly supportive but of whom I imagine he asks very little. When he was 25 he came out to his friends and family as being gay and has since entered a long-term relationship with the partner he now lives with.

In a sense Andrew became a victim of his own success. The circumstances of his childhood and the vulnerability of his primary carer meant that he naturally took responsibility, thought of others before himself, and was careful not to burden others with his own strains or worries. The pattern of keeping his personal cards close to his chest was probably further exacerbated by coming to understand that he was gay in an environment where this would have been seen as lesser or unacceptable. Andrew’s university life and early career thrived on being the kind, capable person he is, but his authentic self took a back seat. As success in his professional and personal flourished Andrew grew into a fuller and truer version of himself and again this served him well. It was the success of his professional life, now demanding the assertive and confident behaviour of management, which pushed Andrew to look more closely at himself. His ability to take a lot on and not ruffle feathers became a hindrance rather than a help and he realised he needed to draw on himself and others in a way that optimised his decision-making, leadership and ability to manage cross-organisational teams effectively and profitably.

Andrew has used the Garden Gate to validate his abilities and the authentic person he is, reshape and firm up his boundaries and learn to put himself first. I hope this will encourage him to keep pushing towards a sense of himself which fully acknowledges his abilities and his right to assert his needs without having to bend them around others.

 

We would like to thank Andrew for his feedback. His name has been changed to protect his identity. None of his words or circumstances have been changed. Andrew has participated in compiling this case study and has approved it to be shared with others.