I am 37 and a teacher. I am a happily married man with 2 boys aged 13 and 10, and we live by the sea. I have had UC since about the age of 30. These are the ramblings of man trying to come to terms and deal with a chronic disease whilst maintaining some sort of normality.
I've been doing the relaxation/hypnotherapy for a week or so now. So far, so good. What has been really interesting to me is that it is something you have to work at. Maybe 'work' isn't exactly the right word. Put it this way: it is not something that happens to you. I have not ever had anything like hypnotherapy before and I think I was expecting to 'play the tape' as it were (er, initiate the mp3?) and go into some sort of trance or zone. The first time I listened I waited for the lovely-wife to go out for the evening (there is an inextricable part of every true-blooded englishman that screams (internally, of course) whenever one is forced to participate in anything that could possible be deemed 'whacky', but is in all likeliness just a little left-field, and an inevitable shroud of embarrassment/defensiveness/denial descends). So, despite the fact she has witnessed pretty much all there is to witness when it comes to the embarrassing aspects of my life, be they UC related or otherwise, it seemed unthinkable to tune in with an audience. I realise this is a deplorably negative start to preceedings, but, well, lets call it teething trouble. Off she went and away I went. It was difficult. I worked really hard to not feel a berk, and succeeded in allaying those feelings. But, I was apprehensive. There's alot riding on this for one thing, but my bigger fear was the ridiculous notion that she would come home to find me sat glassy-eyed in the dark, or in knee-hugging psychosis in the corner of the lounge. (If you're scoffing at these nonesensical qualms, let me tell you I did pay full regard to the voice of no-reason-whatsoever in my head that postulated the idea that in fact Guy is a meglomaniac of Bondesque proportions whose master plan is to hypnotise people into being sleeper agents, unknowingly of course, ready to be thrust into action at some predesignated doomsday hour... the manchurian congregation if you will... I should clearly state here that this is ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE, just groundless anxiety of a novice in the world of the truly broadminded). Naturally this was not the case, but I think the level of anxiety I achieved was such that I was not relaxed enough to take full advantage of the session. I had real difficulty in focusing on the suggestions and using my imagination where required - my brain repeatedly over-rode the tape and kept thinking of other stuff. Stupid brain.
The second time was better. Knowing what was coming helped. And I no longer felt the need to listen in secret. It reminds of the time I had counselling, about 8 or 9 years ago. I was lucky, I had a very good, very patient counsellor. If I'm jaded, cynical, and narrow-minded now, back then I was utterly imprisoned in the idea that it was me against the world - what could some guy called Bob conceivably do that I couldn't do myself? Of course he didn't do anything, he just let me figure it out for myself... the first session was spent in almost complete silence - I don't know if I was trying to psych him out or what. I think I was expecting the old 'lie on the couch and tell me about your father' routine, but he just sat smiling and waiting. By the third session I was spilling my guts and really all Bob did was to guide me through the fog of my own thinking - he never once told me what he thought, just helped me pick apart and sort out my own thoughts... And so I realised I don't just sit and listen; I have to be involved, albeit in a very very relaxed open-minded kind of way. Unfortunately, I left my bedroom window open and someone was being noisy outside and this kept creeping into my brain and knocking it off track. Stupid brain.
Anyhoo, I persevered, and third time out I had a break-through. I was really relaxed, and I was really focused. Relaxed and focused. Yep. Felt good.
And time number four was a revelation! For me, music is life. So much of what has happened to me is hung on one song or another. I always come back to music for uplift or come-down. So I tried something and it worked. The utter oneness that can be achieved in the relaxation therapy can be prolonged and, may I even suggest, heightened by following it directly with track 1/1 from Brian Eno's Ambient 1: music for airports.
He is said to have written it:
with the intent to defuse the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal. Eno conceived this idea while being stuck at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in the mid 70s. He had to spend several hours there and was extremely annoyed by the uninspired sound atmosphere
I'm not sure how effective it would be in airport, but combined with the hypnotherapy/relaxation session it has conspired to create one of the calmist, most assured and healthy weeks I can remember for at least a year. If nothing more comes of this, I would thank Guy, Geoffery and Brian for that.