Annie is 14 and she self-referred to CXK’s Emotional Wellbeing service in 2017 as she has been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. She lives with her mum, dad and her younger brother, who is aged 8. Her dad became disabled a few years ago and no longer is able to work. Mum had given up work to become Dad’s carer. This caused financial difficulties, which in turn massively impacted on the family. Sibling relationships are difficult for Annie, and she frequently falls out with her brother.
For the first two sessions she had a member of school staff bring her. After that, she was able to attend by herself – she said this was due to feeling less anxious and knowing what to expect.
“Annie explored her feelings in depth”
Annie engaged well and explored her feelings in depth. She was able to identify feelings of isolation at home. Annie has no friends nearby her home and she felt a lack of connection to her mum. She said she was jealous of her younger brother, identifying that there was a lot of change when he came along and she feels he has it easier than her.
Later in the intervention Annie revealed a feeling of responsibility since dad had become disabled. Annie worried about the finances of home. She felt anxiety about suffering money problems in her own adult life and felt pressure to do the best at school.
As Annie’s emotional wellbeing practitioner, I designed sessions which looked at challenging negative thought patterns. As part of those sessions Annie was introduced to negative thinking traps and was able to identify hers. We looked at ways of breaking the cycle, by challenging the thoughts and replacing them with more balanced, rational ideas. We then looked at physical ways of calming the body down, and introduced distraction techniques.
“Mindfulness was introduced to help Annie be more present and calm”
Time was spent exploring what Annie thought positively about, and she was introduced to positive affirmations. Mindfulness was introduced in the sessions to help Annie to be more present and calm, and she told me that this helped her to feel less ‘hectic’.
Annie was given a notebook, and was encouraged to use it as an ‘all about me’ book. We used it as a way of collecting positive information her skills, talents, achievements and support network. She also drew pictures in her book as a form of expression. She was able to personify her anxiety by creating a drawing and giving it a face. This was instrumental in helping her to challenge it.
Annie used some of the time within our sessions to explore her relationships with her family members. We explored this because she wanted to feel a closer bond with her mum. We explored her relationship with her brother, and looked at his point of view, and the changes he has also experienced. Annie had a heart to heart with her mum and spoke about her feelings, and she felt more comfortable talking about her feelings to her mum. We then looked at the positives of relationship with Dad. She shares an artistic passion with him, and she began to start spending time drawing with him.
By the end of the intervention Annie had some girly time with her mum shopping which she really enjoyed. She also spoke more fondly about her brother.
“Now I feel a lot more confident”
At the start of the intervention Annie reported frequent migraines and stomach aches.. But as a result of our sessions, she reported these had stopped. This led her to feel that they were stress related ailments. She is very artistic and started using art to express her emotions. She began opening up to her mum about her feelings and was therefore increasingly able to identify positives about her brother, and their relationship has improved.
Annie told us: “When I had my very first session, I felt nervous about going and talking to her, however a soon as I met Haley I found that she was very supportive and kind, giving me great methods to deal with my anxiety which I still use today. I found that I was able to talk to her about a lot of my problems. I felt I was able to talk to her because she did not judge me or make any judgemental faces/comments. She was very caring and also gave me a little book to write things down about myself to make me feel better, this also helped a bit with my depression.
“When looking back at how I was before getting help I felt very alone and depressed, however now I feel a lot more confident and I find that the methods that Haley taught me really do help me when I am low or nervous about something.”