02 Feb Client Testimonial – How TNF Has Changed My Life
Over the next few months I’m going to be sharing testimonial blogs from several of my long-term clients. I think sometimes in order to make positive changes in our lives we need to feel confident enough to take that first step – and being inspired by others is one of the catalysts for change we often need.
One of the most wonderful things about my job is that I really get to know people when I work with them over a period of time and love to see the progress they make. Everyone is different and has different pressure points and goals – which is part of what makes this role so fascinating. When one of my clients offered to share her experiences candidly on the blog, I jumped at the chance! Others followed suit, each with their own specific challenges they brought me in to help them with.
It’s easy for me to give tips and share my experiences, but the experiences of my clients are just so powerful that I couldn’t resist asking them to share them to benefit others who may be in the same position.
Today’s client, Miss R, has severe OCD. She was struggling under the weight of her possessions and a growing issue with clutter and hoarding, which was impacting on her quality of life. Miss R’s requirements are rather unique, but the feelings, concerns and habits that drive them are actually quite common. The following paragraphs have been transcribed directly from her own words. Read on to learn more about the progress we’ve made together!
I think one of the things that makes Cheryl so special to me personally is her true understanding of my issues and completely non-judgemental, open-minded attitude to it all. As someone with OCD herself she has a profound empathy and respect which enables her to effortlessly support me because she ‘gets’ it – even though our triggers are different. I got that impression from her straight away – her warmth and candid attitude made me feel safe and understood. When I ask her to open out every envelope even though there are hundreds, when she triple checks rubbish bags we’ve already triple checked with me, when she has to open up bags or watch me rip every page out of a magazine – she does it in good spirits and never makes me feel awkward or embarrassed. In fact, she keeps me going through the hard bits, keeping me talking to distract me and helping keep my spirits high. We’ve worked together for so long now that she can even see when I am flagging or have a panic attack coming on and supports me accordingly. Very quickly (within one session) she learned about the specific things I struggle with and the certain foibles or things I need to have a certain way. She always checks with me before doing anything, and I trust her completely, which is so important for someone with anxiety and OCD.
I also never imagined that I would actually get better as a result of us working together! That’s why I’ve said yes when Cheryl asked if I could share my experience – showing people the lengths she will go to and the level of patience she has and how meaningful that is. Nobody needs to feel worried or silly or scared of contacting her for support – I have never felt more safe, more seen or better understood and that has helped me to throw away more stuff than I ever have done before (over 20 100-litre bin bags to be precise!)
Giving me hope
One of the most important things Cheryl has given me is hope. I really felt before I found her that nobody could help me. I thought I’d be like ‘this’ forever. Initially I’d looked at therapy, but my OCD is so specific and severe I couldn’t find anyone who felt confident they could understand it, let alone support me to overcome it. The decluttering experts I found didn’t seem to have a speciality in OCD or understanding of it so I was worried they might be too overzealous and trigger me. I also couldn’t believe there would be anybody out there who could deal with my craziness!
Now I have made so much progress since starting to work with Cheryl 9 months ago, and I actually feel for the first time as though I will be able to overcome this and can imagine a future without OCD being so prevalent in my life.
During my desperate Google searches trying to better understand myself and what I needed I came across a type of therapy called ‘Exposure Therapy’. It involves controlled exposure to your triggers to help you to slowly retrain your brain to tolerate them better. Again, my triggers are so specific I couldn’t find a therapist who specialised.
Of course when I found Cheryl I wasn’t thinking that our work together would serve as any kind of therapy, and I know she isn’t a qualified therapist, but it really has been healing and I have definitely grown and got better as a result. I can’t imagine making this kind of progress without actually going through this process with Cheryl. Things that were difficult for me before are less difficult now…it’s easier for me to throw things away and go through things. I still have a way to go, but I’ve made so much progress just through doing this work with her supporting me and holding space for me. I realised that really what Cheryl has done for me is an unofficial kind of ‘exposure therapy’ – which has had a profound effect on my anxiety around throwing things away and clearing out.
New habits, new life
When I met Cheryl I had all sorts of bad habits and things I didn’t even realise I was doing. She gently (often without me even realising!) helped me to identify these unhelpful habits and gave me simple tools to change. I was a ‘bag stuffer’ – my entire home was covered in shopping bags filled with random stuff. I had so many clothes I couldn’t see them or store them properly, so there were always clothes all over the bed and floor. I couldn’t clean around the clutter, so dust and dirt built up.
Now I don’t have bags or boxes. I throw away paperwork and packaging as soon as it comes in the house. I have managed to clear the extra clothes so that now they can easily be folded, arranged and put away. All these seemingly small things have changed my life for the better. Now I don’t have huge piles of bags stuffed with rubbish all over the house, I don’t have stacks of paperwork, or dirty clothes I have to squeeze under to get into bed at night. I have a space that is pleasant, tidy, easy to clean and clutter-free – which I can maintain as such. I never ever thought I would have that! I was so used to living under piles of clothes, bin bags and plastic bags filled with crap I never imagined I could live like this.
This experience has made me think a lot more about my lifestyle as a whole, too. I’m replacing the clutter and embracing minimalism – and although I don’t buy a lot of stuff on a regular basis I have become even more selective and conscious of what I’m purchasing and whether I really need it, which means I’m not adding to the issue further – a huge relief.
Working with Cheryl has been truly life changing and I am so grateful to have found her when I did. I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings in terms of progress!