Light at the end of the dark and fearful dentistry tunnel
ITENTATIVELY laid back in the chair, tilted precariously backwards towards the ground, tried to avert my eyes from the implements of torture beside me and took slow, deep breaths. I was at the dentist, yet strangely not quite the quivering wreck I normally am when lying back under the unnaturally bright light.
Instead, I was wearing headphones playing relaxing acoustic music while also listening to the low, measured voice of a hypnotherapist.
Now I'm a fairly committed cynic and, on initially investigating how best to tackle my ludicrous dental phobia (which has only developed in earnest in very recent years), I did not expect to turn so willingly to an "alternative" therapy.
Thanks to the likes of end-of-pier performers and the comedy of Little Britain, I'd assumed anything prefixed "hypno" involved swinging watches, someone chanting "Look into my eyes, don't look around the eyes, look into the eyes" and then the "entertainment victim" pretending to be a chicken, or some such.
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In fact, as I discovered, hypnotherapy (with the emphasis on the therapy, rather than the hypno) is entirely different.
I have no idea how long I was "under". I do know I've not felt so relaxed before. Ever.
I was aware of where I was, who was talking to me, and what I was being asked to imagine at all times.
I could move whenever I wanted. my limbs felt very heavy when I was asked to raise a hand to indicate I had finished imagining a requested scenario, though definitely not worryingly so.
I'd feared at the outset that my cynicism and apprehension at "letting someone into my mind" would mean I wouldn't relax enough to let the therapist get to work. But I couldn't have been more wrong.
In fact, I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the process, eventually opening my eyes once the session was up to feel like I'd just had a satisfying nap in a five-star hotel's feather-filled bed.
We sat and chatted for a few minutes while I "came round", and I can honestly say I'd never felt so comfortable in a dentist's chair before. The padded seat and leather cushioned headrest were, I realised, really quite nice
While I may have a way to go yet until I'm cured, I can see there is now light at the end of the dark and fearful dentistry tunnel.
The aim is to reach the point where I can happily (well, as happy as a normal person might feel about going to the dentist) keep an appointment, as I usually cancel at the 11th hour rather than deal with the trauma of going.
And, once I do turn up, I don't want to shake and cry when checking in with the receptionist, never mind how I feel when actually leaving the waiting room to get into the dentists' chair itself.