Tuesday 20th December 2011
All in all, 2011 has proven to be a challenging year, complete with adventure, mis-adventure, friendship and tragedy. Sadly this blog post is being written outside an intensive care unit where I and various family have been camped out for some days keeping vigil for a close family member. I’m getting occasional ‘net access at Starbucks next door and would like to apologise to anyone who hasn’t heard back from me for a while. I’ll catch up on emails and calls eventually.
2011 began with a superb business trip to south India with Nick Kemp. Initially we were visiting to teach just one workshop, but we ended up presenting at the Indian Psychological Association, to the psychology department of a local women's college and we made an appearance on Indian television on a current affairs show about psychological issues. India is that kind of country where opportunity awaits around every corner and you can never be quite sure what is going to happen next. We had a whirlwind trip of amazing hospitality, fantastic food and adventure around every corner for which I will be eternally grateful to the incredible Dr. Abraham for all is help and organisation. Both myself and Nick will be heading back to India in October 2012 for workshops in Kochi, Kerala. Details of this and my other India workshops and events can be found here: India NLP Training.
Following various UK workshops, I was invited to Sweden by Eva Hols for a Metaphors of Money workshop and also a presentation to the superbly attended Swedish NLP Association. Present at the Metaphors of Money workshop was a journalist from Svenska Dagbladet which landed me a fantastic review in the Swedish press.
Tragedy struck in March, with the unexpected death of one of my closest friends and on my way from the funeral to Swindon for the IEMT workshop, I briefly did an impression of a rocket-bike when my motorcycle burst into flames in the fast lane of the dual carriageway. It took me a moment to work out what was going on. I first saw the smoke behind me and thought, “Uh oh, someone is in trouble.” The next thing I became aware of was a frantic flashing of lights from cars behind me and the honking of horns. My next thought was, “Oh, might be worthwhile getting out of the way,” and it was when a car drew up alongside me with a woman leaning out of the window waving her arms furiously and quite literally screaming that I realised that all the excitement was being caused by me. One of my overloaded panniers had been in contact with the exhaust pipe and my laptop, spare clothes, seminar hand-outs and posters where all merrily alight.
Fortunately, I escaped without injury and I can honestly say that the whole episode was the most exciting thing I have ever experienced.
As a really strange aside, my budget laptop (I tend to drop them so I only ever buy cheap ones) which hardly resembles a laptop any more with nearly all the casing melted away, the disk drive no longer present (it fell out) and all ports except for the power socket completely melted, the thing actually still works. It’s an Advent, in case anyone wonders.
In April I travelled to Boulder, Colorado to stay with the wonderful Steve and Connirae Andreas to present the first four day Metaphors of Movement workshop which went better than I could have imagined. Whilst there, I filmed four client sessions on the same day, and the unedited sessions form the basis of, “Building The Rainbow Machine” a DVD set is designed to open the doors to a typical day in my clinical practice. Recent circumstances have delayed the release of this set, but details can be found here: Building The Rainbow Machine DVD Set.
In May, another USA trip took me to Rochester, New York for the IEMT practitioner and advanced practitioner, hosted by the unstoppable James Cervelloni and Lucia Pinizotti, from the Mindopoly Center for Change and then onto Washington DC for a 2 day weight loss event hosted by the wonderful and up and coming Gaye Gunes. Both these events went so well, I’ll be back in Rochester and Washington in September 2012.
In June I had one of the most unusual and brilliant experiences of my professional life when I was invited to participate in a theatre production by the improvisation group, Improbable. The improvised show ran for two nights in a completely sold out small theatre. The first night was one of the funniest things I could have imagined; the second night was positively sinister. The nature of improvised shows is that you never know quite what is going to happen. Whilst I couldn't have been more stressed by the whole thing, the audience loved it and getting everyone to go home after the show proved quite difficult.
Then in June it was off to sunny Poland for a workshop on depression and also Metaphors of Money, hosted by my good friend Artur Krol, and from there straight on to the monsoon rain in Bangalore, India for a number of events hosted by the legendary man known simply as GS. I’d not been to Bangalore for several years and it was great to be able to explore the greenest city once again.
An unholy dose of airline food-poisoning put me in bed for 2 weeks which gave rise to a temporary set of neurological symptoms that I never care to experience again but the two weeks in bed gave me time to develop a new module in the, “Metaphors of…” series which I will present in experimental form towards the end of next year.
Adding to the list of personal challenges, in September I presented at a medical conference in Turkey and on the way to the coast following my presentations a near fatal car accident had our taxi leaving the road and over the edge of a cliff where incredibly our descent was broken by a small group of trees growing out of the cliff side. I escaped largely unhurt, but Laura was admitted to hospital for a few days with head and neck injuries. This incident has proven to be pivotal in a number of ways. Two weeks of feeling rather jittery and sensitive to loud noises ended quite suddenly with a rather dramatic nightmare, which in a strange kind of way, was a re-enactment of the accident. I awoke from this nightmare, startling Laura in the process and instantly felt back to normal. Much like the food poisoning incident, this gave me first-hand experience of symptoms I have only ever seen second hand previously. For me the interesting part of the aftermath of the accident was the low level PTSD. Realistically, it was low level because really not a lot happened apart from a very-scary-thing. No one was killed, no one was seriously injured (i.e. no life altering injuries), there was no crime, blame or aggression in the incident. It was a simple accident caused by a driver driving too fast (he survived too). For me what was interesting was the manifestation of post-incident guilt/shame/regret/remorse, but nothing that was obviously related to the accident. I found it very difficult to concentrate, felt exhausted all the time and found myself very sensitive to loud noises and was easily startled. I found myself remembering things from childhood, from my nursing days, from school. My mind would wander to the most abstract things and I would replay events from long ago in my mind in ways I'd never done before. I first became conscious of this when trying to read the newspaper in the bath one morning. I have no idea why, but I suddenly remembered flicking a bit of snot at someone at school, it wasn't as a joke, it was simply an act of bullying, the recipient was a common victim of other children's juvenile nastiness, and I felt quite terrible about that. I almost cried.
Later the same day, Laura was putting the cutlery away, and the noise of that action really irritated me. I actually wanted to suggest that she did the chores more quietly, I was about to shout something when she beat me to it asking me if I wanted a cup of tea. I was straight back to feeling guilty again.
Having worked with a large number of PTSD patients, many of whom have experienced and survived some really horrible stuff, I'd never considered that the associated problems with guilt etc. may not necessarily connect to the incident but may manifest in other ways. I slept soundly, without dreams. This for me is unusual, I normally have vivid dreams that often turn into major adventures. I'd wake up exhausted from each dreamless sleep.
A number of people asked me if I did any therapy on myself or Laura to resolve this. I didn't. Nor did I do any on myself. I was quite surprised at how often I was asked this and a couple of times I lied and said, "of course, and everything is fine now" just to get rid of the questioning and unhelpful suggestions. Time and repeated experience have done little to diminish my exasperation at just how intrusive some "therapists" can be with their questioning and ideas and how some people are utterly incapable of taking a polite hint to bugger off.
A couple of people with experience in working with PTSD did contact me to offer their services should they be needed, and I am grateful for that. Thank you.
What has been interesting is that since waking up from that particular nightmare, is just how I feel remarkably relaxed about everything. I see so many things differently now than before, and it feels good. It almost makes the whole thing quite worthwhile.
October and November saw me travelling around the UK delivering more Metaphors of Movement workshops, including some experimental workshops where I trialled new material for 2012 MoM events.
Also in November, I finally managed to release, "The Complete IEMT Sessions" DVD set which sold out on pre-orders before I'd even received the stock copies and a second print run had to be ordered. As stock levels stand at the moment, I have just 1 copy left. I'll be restocking after Christmas in the New Year.
When I put together the material for the IEMT workshop, I had no expectation for what was going to happen with the work, but the popularity of the model has exceeded all of my expectations and it is being taught and practiced internationally and the field continues to grow. IEMT is being experimented with and developed by a number of professional trainers in the areas of business management, allergy and psoriasis, pain management and trauma.
2012 promises to be a busy year with much overseas travel for events across the USA, Canada, Poland, India, Sweden as well as some planned collaboration with notables such as Lucas Derks and others to be named as details are confirmed.
But that is all for the near future. For now, with hours spent each day in hospital visitors’ rooms, I am witnessing and experiencing the strength and courage of strangers in difficult times as I get to know a little of the families of other patients in the intensive care unit – some of whom will inevitably survive and recover, and others who probably won’t. There is a sense of realistic hope in places like this, with much support offered both by staff and by the other people who share difficult circumstances. It is the little and often silent gestures that make a difference and the determination of people to maintain morale in the face of tragedy that enables others to cope. Shared humour abounds. Yesterday, a couple of us watched the “Christmas Message” videos put out by various life coaches and howled with laughter. Life coaches and NLP trainers ought to take note of this – some of your youtube videos are providing much entertainment and relief to people in genuine distress, and not for the reasons you necessarily intended.
There, I had to say it. An Andy Austin blog post would be complete without a little rant. So, all is that is left for me to say is that I wish you all a safe and festive holiday season and I hope Santa brings you something nice.
Posted by Andrew Austin at 09:35
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