Author: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor
Today I’d like to take you on a journey. On my journey of recovery from the hell of chronic anxiety and post natal depression to living a life I love. To loving life. This is not an easy story for me to tell because I don’t particularly like going back to that time of absolute despair. But it’s mental health awareness month and I want to say to each and every one of you who is struggling today, that I see you. I hear you. I feel your pain. Because I’ve been there. But most of all I want to tell you that there is hope. That I found a way out of the depths of darkness to the lightness and the freedom of living in the present moment, in a holistic way and without medication. My life was so transformed that I decided to make it my mission and my work to teach this knowledge to others, so that they too can find a way out. This is my story, from my heart to yours.
From the depths of darkness…
My story starts in 2009. After a traumatic induced birth, my baby is days old and I’m crying. I can’t stop crying. I’m living in New Zealand, far away from family, and my husband and I just started our own business a few weeks prior to the birth of our first daughter, Letitia. I don’t even know why I’m crying other than I’m overwhelmed, I feel alone and I don’t know what to do with “this” baby. I love my child but I don’t want to be with her. My husband barely takes 24 hours off after the birth because if he doesn’t work, we don’t eat and can’t pay bills. The midwife sees my tears and says it’s normal. My doctor sees my tears and says it’s baby blues. My Mum and Dad hear my tears over the phone. As a result my Mum drops her life in Switzerland and flies over to come and help. She stays for 4 weeks. At first, she takes over everything except breastfeeding my child (which is not going well by the way). Little by little, as week 3 turns into week 4, she starts handing over the reins to me. She helps me get organised, meal plan, shop once a week. Then she leaves.
I’m not crying all the time by that stage. I’m existing. Day by day. Half day by half day. 5 minutes after 5 minutes. Waiting. Waiting for what? I’m not too sure. Waiting to finally be able to go to bed that night. Waiting for the suffering to end, the darkness to go away. When our daughter is around 8 months, I find myself driving on the motorway to see friends and a voice in my head says, “Ann, just drive into the wall. Then it will all be over. Forever.” I look at my daughter in the rearview mirror. I think of my husband. “No, I can’t do that.” I keep going. But I’m scared. I’m terrified of that thought. What if it comes back? What if I’m not strong enough next time?
So I go back to see my doctor. I tell him everything. He puts me on antidepressants and tells me about a support group for women suffering from post natal depression. I start the meds and I start going to the meet ups. I make life-long and dear friendships. We’re all struggling. It’s ok. I’m normal.
My daughter turns 1. Turns 2. Thanks to the anti-depressants, some of the darkness has lifted. But I’m not happy. I’m a control freak. I can’t relax. Despite my smiles, I feel very little joy. I’m not doing it on purpose. I wish I could be better, happier, bouncier. I’m still living day by day, but life is only made bearable by the love I have for my daughter and husband and their love for me.
My husband and I decide that it would be good for our daughter to have a sibling. It takes about 8 months but I get pregnant for the second time. I feel excited about having a second child. The pregancy goes really well so I’ll fast-forward. This time around, my parents decide to book flights for when the baby is a few weeks old, “just in case”. The birth goes well but is so long that our son Joakim is born distressed and ends up in baby ICU for several hours. He’s doing well however, so we go home after 3 days. Week 1, I’m fine (but struggling with breastfeeding again). Week 2, I’m fine (still struggling to breastfeed). Week 3, I start going downhill. Fast.
Every time I have a milk let-down, I feel like a tsunami of despair hits me and engulfs me into the depths of darkness. A friend and La Leche league consultant identifies what’s happening as D-MER syndrome. Dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D–MER) is a condition where women who are breastfeeding develop negative emotions that begin just before the milk ejection reflex and last less than a few minutes.
While I was happy to know what was going on, it didn’t change the fact that it was happening. I started hating my body even more and having panick attack after panick attack. So back I went to the doctor. Because I was determined to continue breastfeeding, I was put on a different anti-depressant. I went home to survive, minute after minute. I couldn’t be alone with my children because otherwise I had a panick attack. Dear friends took turns staying with me when my husband was at work.
In that time I learned vulnerability – it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to say you can’t do it. And it’s okay to ask for help.
Then my parents arrived. Phew. My Mum took over again and my daughter hung out with her a lot. My Dad took over with my baby boy. I was not well. I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Or scratch myself until I bled. One morning, the death-wish thoughts appeared again. I was on our couch. I could hear my Mum and Dad and kids in the kitchen. I remember getting up, walking to the table and saying, “Please take me to the hospital right now. I want to die.” Writing or telling this part of my story brings me to tears every single time. For the woman, wife, mother and daughter I was at that time. For my parents’ unconditionnal love and presence. I will forever be grateful.
Turns out I was having bad side effects from the anti-depressants on top of what was already going on. These were making my condition worse. At the hospital they changed my anti-depressants and gave me calming pills. I stopped breastfeeding (I was in no state to pump and throw out my milk indefinately). I was like a vegetable, but an alive vegetable. Lying on the couch, sleeping, and waiting for the new meds to kick in. They did. My parents left. Many friends still came over. I can’t begin to tell you how much that helped. It started with me being vulnerable and saying I needed help.
Weeks passed. Months passed. I was existing. Still day by day. Still a control-freak. Still imagining the worst thing that could happen. Thinking my children were going to die every time they cried or were sick. Not a very fun person to have around. I would wake up in the morning and wish evening would come already. I would tell my kids at 9am that all my patience was used up. I would count minutes until they napped, until I could have a break. I loved my children so very much, but didn’t want to be around them and felt so guilty. And I waited.
The one thing that got me through that time was the unshakable belief that one day I would find a way out. That belief never left me.
… to living a life I love
I did find a solution. One day, at a women’s conference, I was seated with a woman I hadn’t seen for a few years. Last I’d seen her she was very sick with chronic fatigue syndrome and she had many food intolerances, spending weeks at a time in bed or on the couch. But here she was at the conference, full of life, vibrant and eating of everything. I remember looking at her, stunned. I bluntly said to her, “what happened to you?”. She told me that she had been on a 3 day mind-body connection training, the Phil Parker Lightning Process® and learned the tools to heal her body. Within a few weeks of doing the training, she was 100% better. Let me tell you, that got my attention, even though I wasn’t suffering from the same dis-ease as her. She told me more about the training and I asked her if she thought that same training could help me get my life and happiness back. She said yes.
Well I wasn’t quite ready to jump in and do the training straight away. I read the introduction to the training and saved up for it. When I went to the first day of the training in August 2016, in New Zealand, I knew my life was about to change. I believed I could turn my life around. I sat on the edge of my seat and intently listened. There were so many “aha!” moments, when things just clicked.
Hope flourished from the depths of my soul as I understood more and more about neuroscience and psycho-neuro-immunology. About how our words, thoughts and beliefs affect our health. About the effects of long term stress on our nervous system. And most importantly, how to flick the switch and restore health and wellbeing.
I put the tools into practise straight away, consistently. By the end of day 3, my depression was finished (I promptly stopped all medication I was on) and my anxieties were strongly reduced. I went home that day and for the first time since the birth of my children, not only did I love them but I wanted desperatly to be with them and to hold them tight. After a few weeks, the anxieties were finished.
My daughter looked at me with wonder one day, about 6 weeks after the training, and she said, “Mummy, you laugh now!”, with so much joy in her voice and in her eyes.
All my chronic health issues such as sinusitis, hayfever, asthma and back pain disappeared within months. The thing that took the longest for me to resolve was body-love but I’ll tell you about that story another time.
My mindset, my thought life and my health were so transformed that it changed my life. All this in a scientific, holistic and medicine-free way. In 2017 we decided it was time for our little family to move back to Switzerland. I would never have been able to contemplate let alone experience such a move prior to the Lightning Process® training. We arrived in Vaud in June 2017 and in September of that year I started studying to become a Lightning Process® practitioner. I just couldn’t imagine a life in which I wasn’t teaching the same skills I had learned to others.
And there you go. I’ve been giving the training once a month since January 2019, either in French or in English. Since the start of the pandemic I’ve been giving it on zoom as well as in person in Vaud, Switzerland. I’ve seen things that could be classed as miracles. I’ve seen others who, just like me, went from chronic health issues to thriving health. For some it’s fast. For others in slower. Some issues are resolved very quickly, for others it takes longer. What matters at the end of the day is that you focus on the progress you’re making and celebrate it with your whole being.
Practise doesn’t make perfect, practise makes progress.
And with our brain, because of neuroplasticity (check out this cool video on neuroplasticity), regular practise does equate to change. What would you like that change to be?
So here I am today. Perfectly imperfect. Living a life I love. Loving life. Choosing to influence my mental and physical health in a way that is life enhancing. Teaching motivated people the skills to transform their own health. Teaching children life skills so they can grow up more relaxed, happier, more confident and resilient – I just love giving kids’ workshops and coaching kids 1 to 1. Am I constantly happy? No. That wouldn’t be life-enhancing. Do I stumble sometimes? Of course.
But I am not a victim of my mental health anymore. I am an influencer and a winner.
I hope to have brought you some hope today. I hope that you feel less alone in your daily struggle. And I hope that you will feel free to contact me if you have any questions on how the Lightning Process® training could help you too. For now, “Kia Kaha” (Be Strong, in Maori) and take care. You are not alone.
Ann Grandchamp, Lightning Process® practitioner,
Advanced Master NLP practitioner, Life Coach
- have fatigue, anxiety, depression, burnout, or ongoing chronic health issues,
- struggle with meditation and other healing solutions but would love the same benefits and more,
- feel that your healing is prevented by sympathetic nervous system over-sensitisation,
- want to live a healthier, happier, and more harmonious life,
then the Lightning Process® may very well be the solution you’ve been looking for.
To learn more, please click on the link below.
To read posts from April, click here