Sally was close to despair. She rarely got a break from caring for her 11 year old autistic son, Peter. She has to micro-manage every aspect of his life, from helping him get dressed in the mornings, to washing himself, eating his meals, using the toilet and going to sleep at night. Each day is labour intensive. She hopes that he will learn to take care of himself and is teaching him basic life skills, but they have made very little progress. He is very demanding of her attention and lately he has become more angry and was hitting, biting and kicking her. She urgently wanted this violence to end.
When a second bout of flue would not clear up she went to see her family doctor. She was not sleeping well at night and exhaustion made her irritable and quick to overreact. This upset her, because she knew she had to have the patience of an angel to care for Peter. She frequently sighed, as if to relieve herself of a heavy burden. The future looked bleak. Her doctor diagnosed her with mild depression and carer’s fatigue and recommended psychotherapy for both Sally and her son.
The psychologist listened carefully to Sally’s story and then talked to her about the importance of looking after yourself when you are a carer. The psychologist knew that self neglect is a common problem amongst carers and Sally had all the signs. Her son and his pressing needs were her whole world.. There was just no time for herself and her needs. She never took time out, nor got help. She would not trust anyone else to take care of Peter. She no longer had any friends left. She had gained weight and was unfit.
To help Sally out of her rut the psychologist suggested she attend Fractal Therapy sessions, the exact same sessions recommended for her son Peter. The psychologist was confident Sally would cope and look after herself better after she had had these sessions. Importantly, she would find it easier to respond to her son’s special needs if she was more balanced emotionally and he would benefit from this too.
How Fractal Therapy can support caregivers
The stress of looking after her son had locked Sally’s nervous system into overdrive and she was in a chronic state of tension. As a fulltime carer for a child who was often anxious and aggressive she constantly had to be on high alert. With her nervous system pumping adrenaline, her fight, flight and freeze survival reflexes were overactive. These overactive reflexes caused her irritability, feelings of overwhelm, insomnia, depression and fatigue.
Fractal Therapy could balance Sally’s nervous system so that she was no longer locked into stress. Fractal Therapy activated her higher brain region, the hippocampus, to gain control over her amygdala, a lower brain region. Her amygdala was producing her fight, flight and freeze survival reflexes. It was these reflexes that kept her in a state of irritability, anxiety and made her morbid and pessimistic about the future.
As her brain became more balanced after using the fractal movements she felt her energy return, slept through the night again, felt more optimistic and balanced. Her son went through the same therapeutic healing process and became happier. He stopped being violent and instead was more of a loving son, affectionate and caring to his mother. She was delighted and suddenly the future looked bright and full of promise again.
As Peter became more independent and had more self control she no longer felt that she needed to control every aspect of his life – she could let go. She accepted help from her local church friends and from social services and while Peter was in respite care Sally spent her first weekend in eleven years away from home, mountain climbing with her friends.
Fractal Therapy had made it possible for both Sally and Peter to have the freedom to join their local communities, to explore creative ways to live more fulfilling lives, to be more independent of one another while deepening their love as a family.
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