“Since we last met, I have still not used my inhaler once”
Using regression to clear the anxiety trigger for a disabling cough reflex
Martin had a disabling cough which he feared was getting worse. He had been diagnosed with Asthma in his 20’s and a slight weakness in the lungs was detected at that point. Since then he had needed to use an inhaler at times, but now found that he was reaching for it more and more often.
Now in his late 40’s, he came to me to seek help via hypnotherapy to try and control the coughing and inhaler use. Not surprisingly, Martin also showed signs of allergic responses to several triggers, including cat hair. His partner had recently brought a cat into their home, and he realised that this was probably heightening his reactions.
While he had developed his own impressive ways of limiting and coping with the cough reflex, it could still be disabling and alarming and turn into uncontrollable bouts of coughing: “I fear running out of breath when I cough”. It was already clear to Martin that coughing was a reaction to stressful situations, and that new people and new situations caused him to feel particularly stressed. Being the focus of attention was similarly daunting, and he feared standing out in business meetings in particular, feeling that the coughing would be perceived as a weakness and could lead to him being judged in a negative way.
He used meditation and yoga successfully to calm his system generally, recognising that underlying tension lay behind his stress reactions. But having just started a new job in a high level position, Martin felt building apprehension of how he would cope with the cough reflex in meetings with new colleagues and clients, where expectations of him were high and all attention would be focused on him.
The first child of a very young couple forced into marriage by his mother’s family in a small community, Martin was born into an atmosphere of tension, disapproval and shame. He described the atmosphere at home as disconnected, with little emotional rapport: “there was no meanness, but not much joy”. Having been forced together by an early pregnancy, his mother left his father when Martin and his younger brother reached adulthood. As well as growing up with emotional distance from his parents, Martin was highly intelligent and soon outstripped his family’s educational level. This sense of being different persisted: “I never found my tribe”. While Martin’s early life was not overtly abusive, this lack of affirming, emotional connection (with the security and self-worth that feeling positively and actively loved brings with it) can lead to a chronically stressed nervous system, and lasting anxiety into adult life. We can get so used to underlying stress that we don’t even notice that our system is set almost permanently in the ‘fight/ flight/ freeze’ state which stresses the immune system so much.
I started our first session by taking a detailed history and then relaxing Martin and conducting hypnotherapy for around 20 minutes, with the goal of helping his system begin to reconnect with being in a relaxed state. These 20 minutes were recorded, and Martin
went away with a copy to listen to it twice a day for the next two weeks, in preparation for regression. The aim in that session would be to attempt to find and release the key emotional trigger which was leading, via anxiety, to the bouts of coughing. In searching for the key trigger, we are always looking for the earliest experience.
After two weeks we met again, and I relaxed Martin once more so we could follow his body memory back to the first time he had ever felt the difficult feelings which came up for him when he contemplated a typical meeting at his new job and the familiar tickle started in his throat.
Body memory took us back to the last trimester in the womb, and the overwhelming feelings of shame, panic, worry and fear being experienced by his mother as she contemplated her life ahead. Her father was the strongest source of disapproval, feeling that she had betrayed him and his good name. We worked to find his humanity and to make him aware of the cruelty of the harsh doctrine he believed was right. By allowing his mother’s feelings to be discharged, Martin was also able to let the heavy load of shame and anxiety go, as he realised at a gut level that it was not his fault.
We met for a third time two weeks later. There was a definite improvement, noticeable in that Martin’s inhaler use had dropped from twice a week to just once in that two week period. He reported that while generally better, the cough was still there, but not all the time and he recovered more quickly from it. In meetings, the cough would come but pass more quickly and he was more relaxed about it: “I genuinely know it will pass”. Although work continued to be stressful by its nature, he now felt less affected by that stress.
A further meeting was planned to use Bioresonance (I am a trained practitioner with the LIFE Bioresonance system) to work directly with allergens, including cat hair. Martin arrived with a little envelope of fur from the cat at home and I imported its frequency into my system. During the session, I ran the unique electromagnetic frequencies of multiple common allergens to check which ones Martin reacted to at an energetic level. These were then balanced by feeding those frequencies back to him for a few minutes at a time. You can read more about Bioresonance/ Biofeedback in this section of my website.
Mindful that Martin had said the cough was still there, I suggested that we go back to an incident when he was around four years old. He had been in bed when an electric blanket caught fire. He was safely rescued, but there was a lot of panic and smoke.
Rather than conduct another full regression session, I used a version of the Fast Phobia Cure approach developed by Richard Bandler to help rapid dissociation from traumatic memories. This appeared to work very well, and by the end Martin was able to conjure up memories of that night without feeling panic or the constricting feelings in his lungs.
Around 10 days later, I received a text from Martin which read: “the cough is massively better!” When we next met for a second Bioresonance session, he reported that he had not needed to use the Asthma inhaler at all since our last session and he was even more relaxed about the prospect of coughing. “I realise now that it is a tension thing and nothing to worry about”. He felt the cough had been dealt with, and mentioned that he now also felt much more comfortable around the cat.
A year later, I had an update from Martin: “Since we last met, I have still not used my inhaler once. I would say that the stress reflex is there but that it now does not deteriorate into a desperate cough, even after a heavy dose of flu …
… I think for me it was important that I addressed the problem from multiple angles, one of which being your work. I have since repeated my ten day meditation course. It is not possible to unpick the level that is directly attributable to each – all I know is that until I completed your course of sessions I couldn’t shake the cough, and my experience of managing coughing since is vastly improved”
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