BRYAN:

"A lousy bastard - that's all I thought I was".

Every morning Bryan woke up feeling desolate. Every morning he lay in bed and dreaded the coming day. Every morning he cringed at the inevitability of having to mix with people beyond his own four walls. "I had to climb a mountain, even before I put my feet on the floor".

It had been this way since Bryan was six. He was now fifty.

**********

Childhood had been unhappy - full of parental deceit, coercion, abandonment, sibling violence and petty crime. The world had seemed a relentlessly frightening, confusing, comfortless place to be. Even sleep, with its violent dreams, held no escape. He had constantly held to the belief that one day his 'real' parents would arrive - "to save me from the nightmare".

Bryan had grown up hating and hurting himself . At school he had been labelled "a troublesome idiot". In those days, nobody was aware of his dyslexia, and certainly nobody bothered to give him the time or support he desperately needed. Neither home nor school had done anything but convince Bryan that he worthless. He took to cutting himself in private and ultimately attempted suicide.

As a child, he had learnt to scrutinise adults' faces, learnt to judge what was expected of him to keep them happy. As an adult, he continued to study the features of everyone with whom he spoke, always assuming their intentions to be detrimental towards him - "always writing my own script".

In company, Bryan had always felt "the stranger from another planet". He would find himself talking about entirely inappropriate subjects, responding in entirely inappropriate ways. "It was as though a different film were playing in my head - if I was asked a question, I would answer according to some disconnected event from years before".

Bryan hated his seemingly irrational anger at seeing children playing happily. He despised his overwhelming sense of "total impotence and pain" when he saw parents treat their children kindly, in ways he now knows to be caring acts of normal interaction between parent and child.

For years, Bryan constantly changed jobs, moved house, left the country - "the inexplicable six monthly cycle to my life". He was always running away - "in search of peace somewhere". He fully realised this habitual behaviour could not continue and made the decision to explain his 'patterns' to himself, by undergoing Freudian therapy. Five years later, he certainly had a better understanding of himself, but the depression would not lift and the nightmares continued in all their ferocity. Ultimately, Bryan had to admit the psychotherapy had been, though not without benefits, rather a "long-winded exercise".

Bryan moved into Social Work, finally seeing a way of putting his past history to some good use. He worked on a Children and Families team for two and a half years, then started a college course for further training - "but the combination of academic rigour, ignorance of dyslexia by the college and employer, as well as my childhood experiences took their toll". Depressed and exhausted, with his bad dreams and depression greatly intensified through the stress, he turned to his GP.

The doctor could offer little, except Prozac, which he advised would have to be "the long-term option". Bryan hated the idea of pills being the only answer to his years of anxiety and unhappiness, but the doctor was adamant: "Why expend all that energy climbing out of the pit you continually find yourself in, enduring all that 'terribleness' when it is so unnecessary? You may have to accept that this is the only way for you". But Bryan would not.

One Sunday morning, Bryan happened across a programme on Radio 4 in which the benefits of the Listening Therapy were extolled. A week or so later, he heard an interview on Radio 2 by Trevor McDonald in which, once again, the work of Professor Tomatis was praised. Bryan decided to investigate. After so many years of psychotherapy, of baring his all to professional strangers, he found the "passive, mechanical aspect" very appealing - "any changes would be prompted, not by a councillor, but by me, from within myself."

**********

Bryan has now completed the usual course of fifteen days, followed by two sessions of eight days, at the Listening Centre in Lewes.

His initial reason for taking the treatment was to help with his dyslexia, as he had recently been struggling through examinations and feared the effect any failure would have on his future career. By his second session, he found that he was starting to understand more of what he read out loud and, by the third, he could read and understand for thirty minutes at a time. He has noticed that he is worrying less about his dyslexia and finds he has a new fluency and ease in his writing - "it has very little impact, as far as I am concerned, on my day to day functioning". This, for him, is a great step forward.

Even during his first session, Bryan became aware of some extraordinary and unexpected physical changes:

For as long as he could remember, Bryan had suffered with chronic indigestion. He kept Rennies in his car, by his bed, in his briefcase, in the kitchen, in the bathroom and felt forced to eat them constantly to relieve the burning and discomfort. Since the Listening Therapy, he simply no longer suffers the stress which originally caused the relentless indigestion and the bumper-packs of Rennies have become redundant!

Bryan had run his own stained-glass business, but was forced to give it up because of severe back pain - so severe, in fact, that a sudden pang would "crease me up and I'd drop the sheets of glass!" Since the treatment, the pain has gone - "where standing, shopping and waiting used to be agony, they are simply no longer a problem".

Severe sinusitis had been a constant ailment for years. The only effective relief he had been prescribed was a steroid spray, but after prolonged use, it had destroyed his sense of smell. Bryan dared to stop using the inhaler during his Listening Therapy sessions and where he once suffered two or three 'flare-ups' a week, causing his face and forehead to become inflamed, he has now been two months without a sign of it. And his sense of smell is returning.

But the nightmares and depression, which had become so much a part of his daily routine?

Bryan's face and eyes beam as he describes, with triumph in his voice, the changes that have come about:

"I have taken control! The horrendous, violent nightmares, which used to intensify, or even trigger, my depression have gone - they've lost their grip. It takes a bit of getting used to - not waking up depressed and afraid, not being anxious, having all those thoughts to overcome! I now find it easy to get to sleep. I sleep more deeply and so much more peacefully. There is no longer any need to lie in bed every morning processing and reprocessing the 'old scripts' - the day starts and that is the end of it. At times, though less and less, they do resurface, but now I am in control - I decide on my day and the negative internal dialogues stop. This is a big difference, a major perceptual change.

"I can now interact with people in the here and now and know 'this is how it is, not how it was'. I am no longer obsessively drawn to listen in on other people's arguments. I am no longer spiteful and angry at other people's happiness. Their being happy is longer seen by me as their lie, a fake. I am less bossy, less controlling, which has changed the atmosphere at home. And I no longer fear people. The abandoned, confused child no longer needs to react. My inner child sleeps and for the most part is at peace, whilst I get on with living my life. Yes, I am rid of the baggage!

"I can now see and understand my past more clearly, and I now realise just what I have survived. Now, I have a better relationship with myself, I'm kinder, gentler to me - and, I hope, to those around me. I no longer run myself down and now don't even let others do it for me. I can even say 'No' to people without it being a problem, without the ensuing depressive emotional baggage. My self-esteem and confidence have risen significantly. For the first time, I can trust my intuition. I now choose not to be miserable, negative and reactive. I have the strength not be consumed by the depression. In fact, I'm not tugged about by it, which is a big thing for me - you know, I'm not even sure 'it' is still around anymore.

"I am so full of hope - so full of acceptance and energy. My life feels less of a fake. I now live here in the present and do not fear the future, because I know the future will be different. I know I am different. I am more worthwhile. And I have a place on this planet, just like everybody else."

 redjelly