Although pernicious anaemia (PA) is without doubt a physical illness, an autoimmune disorder for which there is no cure, many of the effects of it can be helped greatly by the right sort of psychological therapy. There is a problem, though, in that many sufferers are told the illness is ‘in your head’ while knowing beyond any doubt that it’s in their body; and that tends to make them resistant to even the idea of any form of psychotherapy.
As the ‘owner’ of PA myself though, having been diagnosed in 2013, and being also a psychotherapist since 1989 (though no longer seeing clients) I can state from the position of an insider that it is entirely possible to considerably improve the quality of life. It’s not something that can easily be done with self-help – except by the most upbeat of individuals – since there is a need for an understanding of some of the deeper processes of the mind and what happens when there is a perceived threat to survival. Note the use of ‘perceived’. The threat isn’t real, because as far as physical symptoms are concerned PA is totally manageable with the right treatment, but one of the psychological symptoms is a frequently recurring conviction that death is near. There are other common processes that produce fear and negativity for many, including:
- The awareness that it is incurable and needs injections for life
- The knowledge that PA is indeed a fatal illness, albeit one that is manageable
- The awareness that it increases the chances of other more serious illnesses
- Despair about apparently irreversible changes in the physical body
- Grief for the loss of the life that used to be
- Anxiety, the cause of which often cannot be defined
- Depression, the cause of which often cannot be defined
Those symptoms, and others less specific, weigh heavily in the subconscious and so often create feelings of lethargy and hopelessness. There is occasionally an undercurrent of anger that gets vented against any individual who dare suggest that this illness is ‘only a vitamin deficiency’ and nothing to get upset about. Sometimes there is a fixation on the unfairness of it all or a conviction that some other ghastly illness is lurking somewhere, undiagnosed under the shroud of PA.
As unbelievable as it might seem to most sufferers of PA, much of what is listed above can be helped greatly with the right type of therapy and a competent therapist who understands the illness. The first and most important aspect is a positive acceptance of the presence of the illness. Not a resigned, downbeat, grudging recognition, but a determination that you will somehow or another get the best out of life. A state of: ‘Hey ho, I didn’t want this illness, but now I’ve got it, I hope I have it for a very long time!’ After all, it is incurable, so the longer you have it.
A competent therapist can help you to achieve that positive outlook, as well as cope with anxiety and depression – or even alleviate them altogether a lot of the time. You can stop mourning the life you used to have then and begin to look forward to the life you can have now. You can learn to stop fearing vague possibilities and get them in their proper perspective. As unbelievable as it might seem right now, you might even discover a life that is inestimably better than the one you used to have, so that it turns out that PA was actually a vehicle for positive change. That can happen as a result of learning a new skill that you took up only because you could no longer do something you used to do. A hairdresser, manual labourer, commercial driver, dancer, or sports coach might become an artist, a writer, a dressmaker – or perhaps even a psychotherapist.
But it’s important to find the right sort of therapy. Counselling is unlikely to do it. Nor is NLP (neurolinguistic programming) or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy.) There are, in fact, huge numbers of therapy models to choose from but for your requirements there are two ‘stand out’ modalities that have the highest chance of success. They are:
- BWRT (BrainWorking Recursive Therapy)
Some people remain anxious about submitting themselves for hypnotherapy – but there really is no need. You do not lose control (you really cannot be made to do anything you don’t want to do) and you do not go into some kind of stupor. Forget the films you might
have seen where somebody after the session asks: ‘Did I do it?’ as if they have no memory of the session. That’s completely fake, and only there for theatrical effect. The only way you would not know what was happening was if you fell asleep (which is actually not unknown!) It is a fact that the Hypnotherapist needs you to be aware of what is happening in the session for it to work at its best. With a competent Practitioner, much can be achieved in just a few sessions, and you can stop therapy at any time with no ill effects of any sort.
OK, I have to be honest here – BWRT® is my own creation, introduced in 2013 (I used hypnosis all the time up until then) and now used world-wide, the ‘go to’ therapy for many Clinical Psychologists because of its speed and effectiveness. It’s not like any other psychological therapy: it’s totally modern, based firmly in neuroscience, and doesn’t use touch, trance states, deep investigation of your childhood, crystals, tapping parts of your body, flashing lights, healing, energy fields or anything other than a science-based approach that can alleviate anxiety and other issues extremely quickly. A competent practitioner can resolve many issues in just a couple of sessions, though some things might take a little longer. Again, you can stop at any time with no side effects.
Whichever therapy you choose, it is vital that the practitioner has a full understanding of Pernicious Anaemia, and you could show them this and the previous three articles for good measure.
- To find a competent hypnotherapist, check out the Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.
- For BWRT, visit BWRT Professionals. Here you will find practitioners who work online or face-to-face, and this therapy is just as effective either way.
So, if you’re suffering from some of the debilitating psychological effects of PA, such as anxiety or depression – or anything else for that matter – there is a chance for positive change, so search out a competent therapist and get a life.
Terence Watts is the creator of Brain Working Recursive Therapy (BWRT).