70 year old Jane avoids anti-depressants

Gender: Female Age group: >70 years

The issue

Jane* was at a very low point. In her words “rock bottom”. She was on the verge of starting to take anti-depressants that her doctor had prescribed.

Jane didn’t know a lot about The Thrive Programme but liked the fact that it wasn’t therapy and that we wouldn’t be going over her past again and again.

Her contact email to me said “What are your qualifications please? I like the idea about not going over the past. To learn how to cope for now & the future is important to me as I am 71 yrs old (young 71), very fit & healthy but it is my mind that holds me back. Could you please let me know the cost of the programme …”

Jane is married with adult children that are independent. Although retired, she leads an active life including volunteering her time for others.

When I asked Jane how she views herself she said “I take everything personally - I get hurt very easily - I can’t take criticism easily - I feel quite dumb at times - I don’t like being alone - I get nervous about trying anything new or different”.

The approach

As always, we completed three questionnaires before Session One which measured Jane’s “core psychological foundations”.

One of the questionnaires measured Jane’s Sense of Power & Control Over Experiences. In psychology speak, this is similar but not identical to Locus of Control.

We measured Jane’s beliefs about how much control or power she believes she has over events in her life and also her belief in her coping skills when events are not within her control.

Jane believed she wasn’t very powerful. She believed that other people, and other things, controlled experiences and events in her life. In other words, she believed she was powerless. Believing you’re powerless to directly influence experiences in your life is going to create a lot of stress and anxiety.

But Jane’s sense of power and control is just a belief. So we set about challenging some of her unhelpful beliefs. It is these underlying “belief systems” that drive the way Jane is thinking, feeling and behaving. They are her own personal viewpoints.

Throughout The Thrive Programme, Jane gained self-insight, learnt the underpinning psychological theory, and then she set about doing some exercises/actions to embed her new beliefs and habits.

In particular, we spent a lot of time focusing on small challenges that provided Jane with the evidence that she does in fact have power and control over experiences in her life. Rather than avoiding these experiences, she started to actually enjoy them which developed her confidence.

What was resolved?

By Session 4 Jane was feeling great.

  • She went to the pool by herself and did 16 laps and felt proud of herself for doing so.

  • She went to find out about some adult courses to do and wants to do dancing. She was hoping her husband would join her but he wasn’t interested. The old Jane wouldn’t have enrolled on her own, but the new Jane happily enrolled to do the course on her own.

  • Jane does some voluntary work and on arrival she remembered the names of the other volunteers. She said in the past she would’ve forgotten their names because she was so anxious.

  • Jane stopped being a people pleaser and instead (politely) said “no” to something that she would’ve reluctantly said “yes” to previously.

By session 8, Jane’s words were “I feel like a different person”.

The outcome

In eight weeks Jane’s quiz results changed dramatically. For example, her social anxiety score went from 55% to 10%. In other words, she only worried a little bit (10%) about other people judging her.

Recently, this thriving 71 year old went on quite a big physical walking adventure. She didn’t feel anxious about it at all. In fact, quite the opposite. It was just her and her partner, no guides, a huge backpack, tenting most nights, and the freedom and exhilaration that comes with a thriving mindset.

How brilliant is that?

*Not client's real name

Michelle Carlyle