To help you understand how the Thrive Programme can help you overcome your vaginismus, I asked my client Riya, 26, to keep a diary of her journey throughout the process.
She has kindly written about the content of the sessions, as well as her thoughts and feelings. Some of the ideas and concepts that she mentions may be unfamiliar to you, but it should give you some insight into what The Thrive Programme involves and how life changing it could be for you too! Over to Riya….
“Before Thrive, I had not discussed what I was going through with anyone. Having Vaginismus is not something I could pop into conversation with someone.
It was embarrassing, de-motivating and I didn’t feel I had it in me to overcome this ‘problem’.
Session 1: Gaining Control
Today’s session was interesting. It was my first session with Cara and we began with my negative beliefs. I didn’t realise I had so many or that although vaginismus was the reason why I had chosen Thrive, a lot of my negative beliefs spread across my life in general. Cara did a quiz with me- 30 questions. I scored quite highly on the quiz but Cara reassured me that this was normal in the case of most vaginismus patients. What interest me was how much I was allowing my beliefs to control my thinking and my life. I had an external sense of control
After the session, I made a conscious effort to acknowledge my thoughts. Throughout the rest of the week, each time I had a negative thought, I noticed that I was having the thought, had an inner battle telling myself f I did not want the negative thoughts and batted them away. There were days where I felt anxious and stressed and it was not so easy to get rid of the negative thoughts but I acknowledged that they were there.
I felt positive for the rest of the week. I could not say if it was because work was not stressful or if it was the session or if it was due to me acknowledging my thoughts but I definitely felt better for the rest of the week.
Session 2: Self Esteem
I was looking forward to this session. The reading I had done inside the book over the week reinforced my learning from Cara and I wanted to know what I could do next to help me with Vaginismus.
We discussed my desire of control and completed another quiz. I knew that I loved being in control of every situation but it was good for me to get confirmation because it meant now I can do something about it. I thought that I was just over controlling but Cara explained how I felt I was out of control and I was overcompensating.
I’m still acknowledging my negative thoughts as well. I’ve had days where I do start taking negatively. While I’m doing so, I am conscious of the fact that I am allowing my negative thoughts to upset me.
On the whole I am feeling positive so far about the Thrive programme. I’ve noticed a subtle change in me and my behaviours. I am generally feeling positive and I don’t think it’s a fluke. I feel lighter and it could be because I am not filling my head with negativity and limiting beliefs. I am starting to recognise and acknowledge my thoughts and want a change and want to treat my vaginismus. I am feeling hopeful at this moment in time.
Session 3: Social Anxiety
Today’s session was interesting. Cara helped me to realise that social anxiety comes from me. I now know that having a high self esteem would mean I would have low social anxiety. What I need to work on now is building up my self esteem through acknowledging my positives. I’m starting to piece together what I have learnt in my sessions and I’m beginning to understand how I am in control of my thoughts and if I have firm foundations, then I can build my self esteem which in turn will lower my social anxiety.
Cara explained that I have learned helplessness with Vaginismus and actually I didn’t think of it as something I have learnt. I need to put myself into situations where I usually probably wouldn’t be comfortable so that I can work on lowering my anxiety.
Session 4: Unhelpful thinking styles
Found out that I had a catastrophic and brooding thinking style and also perfectionist. I agree with all of them. Understanding what I do with my thoughts has made me confident enough to know that I can overcome my negative thoughts and also my vaginismus.
With vaginismus I catastrophise all my thoughts and especially during my earlier days of trying. I kept thinking I’m tight, I won’t ever be able to have children and this is really going to hurt. Over time, I had catastrophised my thoughts so much that I put off having sex with my husband. I blamed myself, my body and also put some blame to my husband. I would brood about what was not happening and just focused on the fact that it was going to hurt. Now, I know that I need to work on stopping myself catastrophising. Cara told me to recognise my thoughts and to be aware of when I went into that mode. It takes effort but eventually it’ll become natural.
Session 5: Visualisation
I’ve really noticed a difference since my last session in my thoughts. At first, it was taking a lot of effort to turn my negative thoughts into a positive. I’ve been completing my positive list and actually I really enjoy writing up my positives. Completing this has helped me to focus on the good things rather than catastrophise or brood over what I can’t control. I have also started the positive list for vaginismus.
Just trying to change my thoughts about the fact that it will be painful into ‘I can tolerate it’ and it will become enjoyable has helped me to feel like I will be able to have sex with my husband. I know that if I put 100% effort into changing my thoughts and mindset, I will be able to do this. Cara went through Dream visualisation technique with me and I can’t wait to try that. I can feel myself beginning to let go of my anxieties and worries about life in general, work and also vaginismus.
Session 6: Success!
I’ve had a couple of weeks to put the effort into everything I have done with Cara. Since my last session, I have had sex with my husband. Hurrah!!! As well as that, I had a pelvic scan with the speculum being inserted and I was able to have this scan without too much bother. It did feel a little painful but once it was in, I relaxed and knew that it was entirely possible.
I need to continue working on processing my positives. Both of the above were amazing positives for me and I now need to process these. Thank you Cara for all your help. You helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you told me a few months ago that I would have overcome my vaginismus, I would not have believed you. Now, I know that I can do it and it will get easier and more enjoyable each time.