Case Study – 2 Day Individual Program: Maria, 36, female, scientist

Overview

“I am thankful for being made aware that I was perhaps not being kind enough with myself, particularly my child self. I have since “travelled’ into many situations of my childhood, with the help of my partner, who helped me “fly over’ safely into the darkest parts of it. I have learned to observe it from a distance, objectively and appreciate what was done to that child, without feeling that I pity myself.

 I am now expecting my own child and am very happy that I am more empowered to understand where certain demons come from and feel better equipped at preventing them from bleeding into my life destroying what I have. I am also thankful for feeling that I am OK. I am no better or worse than anyone else. The things I feel and want are OK and reasonable and it is fair to strive for them and walk away if I am not getting the love I deserve.”

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: Regarding disliking the body – pregnancy doesn’t help! But it’s not always… I am mostly OK.

Before

 Maria is a 36 year old female scientist who runs her own laboratory with a team of students and staff. She is from Southern Europe and has lived in the UK on and off for 10 years. Her parents divorced when she was 7 and she has a younger sister whom she has taken care of in one way or another for most of her life. Maria has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for most of her life and now realises that she was probably having them since she was a toddler. Through years of therapy Maria has realised that her mother had a manipulative Narcissistic personality, which shaped a lot of trauma throughout life, even though she left her mother to live with her father at a very early age. Maria’s father is an alcoholic, who has only recently admitted that he has a problem. Maria was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 11 during a court procedure which she instigated (and won) to remove herself from both parents. She has been diagnosed with chronic anxiety and panic attacks and has taken medication for more than 10 years.

Measures taken to attend to well-being

Maria has had counselling on different occasions since she was a child and has taken anxiety medication for more than 10 years. She had fortnightly counselling with Anne Lindley-French over the course of a year to explore relationship issues, understanding her feelings and decide on what she felt she needed to do.

Well-being self-assessment

Maria completed this self-assessment, showing how she felt during each decade of her 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:

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:

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

Maria provided the following answers to questions about why she chose the Garden Gate Intensive Program, her experience of doing it and what she thought of it.

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

“I enrolled in the Garden Gate program in an attempt to really pour out, and name, all the demons that dominate(d) my life.”

What were you hoping to get from it?

“To take control of my demons and understand them as much as possible, instead of being constantly at their mercy.”

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

“I was anxious and worried about digging out things from the past and re-living emotions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this and felt scared.”

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

“The Logic of the Garden Gate.”

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

“Yes! I didn’t really think it would take the shape it did, but then it was obvious that it would. It was a fun thing to get to that stage and that was surprising.”

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

“When I realised the shape it was taking and how Anne made me feel free to explore it and actually draw it out with all the detail that just kept pouring out of my thoughts, despite it taking ages before I could visualise anything at all!”

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

“1-The garden itself: It’s my garden and I am safe. I control the gates. I can’t take care of other people’s gardens, no matter how much I want to. It still helps me think about where I put the things I don’t want in my life and how I “ burn” them away. It also helps me remembering that it’s ok to be alone, that I am safe. It helps me remember that I have a safe way of “visiting“ and “flying over” problematic situations without letting them “touch” me or affect me in ways I don’t want them to.

2- Realising objectively that some aspects of my life really, really sucked and that I actually did quite well in spite of them (using the Chapters and 4 Legged Chair). Learn to feel empathy and care towards my child self.”

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

“The intensity of it was really tiring, difficult to keep focused and motivated. In my case, I think I would have preferred meeting at the usual counselling location and spending about 3 hours maximum per day, over a few days.”

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

“No.”

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

“Yes, because of the insights and toolkit I was made aware of. It’s good to write things down, name them and point at them in a systematic, consistent and objective manner. This way I feel I can remind myself and take control over my issues in a more effective and constructive manner.”

Is there anything else you would like to say?

“I am thankful for being made aware that I was perhaps not being kind enough with myself, particularly my child self. I have since “travelled” into many situations of my childhood, with the help of my partner, who helped me “fly over” safely into the darkest parts of it. I have learned to observe it from a distance, objectively and appreciate what was done to that child, without feeling that I pity myself.

I am now expecting my own child and am very happy that I am more empowered to understand where certain demons come from and feel better equipped at preventing them from bleeding into my life destroying what I have. I am also thankful for feeling that I am OK. I am no better or worse than anyone else. The things I feel and want are OK and reasonable and it is fair to strive for them and walk away if I am not getting the love I deserve.”

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.

“Due to pregnancy I am not currently on my anxiety medication. I will likely go back to it, but will see. I have a new partner, who shares my view of emotional connection and helps me face and deal with my own issues. I have taken more active control of specific triggers that I recognise will potentially bring me pain.”

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.

“Nothing obvious. Of course the confounding issue of pregnancy and the fact that my first trimester was just after the programme means that so much was happening that it is difficult to tell!”

Are there any aspects you would like to work on in the future that weren’t included in the program or were included but you felt did not work for you?

“I will likely maintain a light touch counselling to ensure I keep on top of situations and don’t get into negative thought/behavioral patterns.”

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

Maria is highly resilient and motivated. She learned to take responsibility for herself and her sister at a young age and effectively became her own parent to protect them from her mother’s narcissistic and abusive behaviour and her father’s inability to care for her. Maria has harnessed her natural zest for life and intelligence to forge a successful career, establish a wide network of close friends and pursue artistic and sporting interests.

Maria has experienced anxiety for many years and taken medication accordingly. Whilst appearing to be incredibly strong on the outside, she had experienced vulnerability but had become practiced in getting the most out of herself and not expecting too much from those around her. Maria sought counselling to work through her feelings regarding her long-term relationship, which was strong in many ways but appeared to have overlooked her unrecognised requirement for a deep and close nurturing connection. After ending this relationship Maria met a partner who shared her newly-found awareness of the breadth of what she needed from a loving relationship and they are now expecting a child.

I feel that Maria had done as well as anyone could have done given the level of neglect and psychological abuse she experienced as a child, however her ongoing experience of anxiety showed the vulnerable imprint of not having been looked after as she should have. Her professional life flourished as she set high standards, was focused and resilient. However, she did not have the same level of expectation in her emotional life (which for most of us will follow different rules), and over time it was not enough to nurture her to a point where she felt fundamentally safe and ‘met’ by her partner. Maria’s current relationship meets her needs and as a growing family they will attend to each other in a nurturing way which aims to put the adverse effects of Maria’s childhood in the past.

 

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