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Depression, Anxiety and Chronic Physical Pain


By Al Milledge

‘I didn’t know what a quiet mind was. It is such a relief to know I could experience it naturally’

I had a very uplifting call with Louise, she has been forever changed by coming to our groups and she couldn’t wait to tell me about it. Her resilience in tough times, some that she is still living through, shone through our conversation. 

I spoke to Louise soon after she had been given the test results she had been waiting for from a specialist. ‘I’ve got chronic lymphatic leukaemia’, she told me, ‘The old me would have absolutely panicked, and started with the ‘why me’ thoughts but I’m slowly working my way through the possibilities and I feel positive about what’s to come. Doing nothing is the answer. Give your body a rest from the searching for answers. My mind is quieter now than it was. The last time I had bloods done my specialist said the results were much better than expected’.

I asked Louise how her life had changed since she came to the groups?

‘I was relying on everything but myself to make my life better. The answers to feeling better and therefore healthier mentally and physically are available under the chaos in my head. Anxiety makes everything noisier; I didn’t know what a quiet mind was. It is such a relief to know I could experience it naturally. I don’t have the fog of anxiety now’.  

She went on to say, she’d was an estate agent for a long time before she had to give up work. She thought that stressful days and constant multitasking was just a normal way for people to function in that kind of goal orientated profession. She said ‘I am 40 now and I’m starting to trust myself for the first time ever. I stopped smoking cannabis after using it for 22 years. I never thought I’d be able to do it, I used to smoke every single day to calm my head. After I’d been coming to groups for the first 8-week term I suddenly trusted myself to do something hard that I didn’t think I could do.

I asked her how she knew that it was the slice of happiness groups that had created the change in her experience of her illnesses.

I had chronic pain for 8 years and even though the pain hasn’t gone the stress of it has faded into the background. I realised that my nervous system was always under a lot of stress and has calmed down due to these groups, the pain subsided too. I was always trying to find the root cause of pain and suffering but I don’t worry about that anymore. When I look around for the reason it keeps me stuck in the bad feeling. By knowing that my mind was causing the extra stress I’ve noticed that a lot of the symptoms have just gone away, after being with me for years. 

I asked how have our groups compared to other types of therapy and help she’s had in the past.

I’ve had depression and anxiety and PMS for years and therapy seemed to make it worse because I was digging around and around in the past. It didn’t help at all. I’ve learned through A Slice of Happiness groups to live in the present more often. I remember being told in an ASoH group ’don’t feel into the pain so much,’ I didn’t think that would ever work, but it does. When I feel low or depressed, I’m not so scared of it now so I don’t get so involved in the feeling.

I asked her if she would recommend our groups to others

‘Absolutely I would’ she said, ‘It’s changed my life for the better. I have a lot to be thankful for now. I used to feel lost. I could always see the lightness in life but I never managed to get there. Now I see I’m overthinking and just kind of let it go and I can get more done.

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