When I was first diagnosed with ALS, the one thing I could not get under control was the fear. More than a fear actually, it was the sheer terror of knowing the horrific journey I was headed on, the gradual shutdown of all muscular function ending with a death likely from suffocation as my respiratory muscles were lost. And nowhere to turn, nothing to take, no prescriptions or treatments or hope for an alternate ending. That’s a pretty overwhelming reality to accept.

Then, in an ALS support forum, someone recommended hypnotherapy as a way to get fear under control; the hypnotherapist she’d used was even here in Victoria. Although I tend to be skeptical when it comes to such things, I was ready to try anything. The hypnotherapist, Julia, came over to meet with me (house calls are the best) and explained just how it worked, addressing my questions and concerns and assuring me I would not be clucking like a chicken or under her control or the usual tropes associated with hypnosis, and I decided to give it a go. And I did find a handful of small studies that indicated the potential for hypnotherapy to have positive effects on both psychological and physical well-being in ALS patients, so that reaffirmed it was more than just “mumbo jumbo”.

Within a few sessions, Julia had provided me with a coping mechanism, an ‘anchor’, to use when I became stressed, anxious, or downright fearful-and it worked. Quite well, in fact. Julia has become an integral part of my support network, and is a big reason that I have been able let go of fear and live in the moment. And no chicken imitations to speak of.

Mind’s Eye

Leaving my subconscious to battle
motor neurons I lifted off
and saw prayer flags in Bhutan
adorning village huts
drank chai tea, climbing
high, breathing deep
world at feet.
today, I’m
strong.

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