Helen Carroll had suffered chronic migraines for more than 20 years.
A cocktail of tablets would take the edge off the twice weekly attacks which left her bleary-eyed and spaced-out.
She even struggled to give the time she needed to her three children, Daniel, 10, Isobel, seven and Christian, four.
Under the care of a professor of neurology, she was prescribed prophylactics, including beta-blockers and two types of anti-depressants, none of which made the slightest difference.
Desperate for a cure, she even endured steroid injections into the back of her head, again without benefit.
“Migraines seemed to be my heritage, my mother had suffered until she reached her 60s and my older sister was similarly afflicted,” explains Helen.
“So, when the idea was first mooted that the cure lay not in pills or even the host of alternatives I explored – acupuncture, osteopathy, reflexology, massage and fever few – but in mind over matter I thought it ridiculous.”
However willpower, namely a system called Resolution Magic, which uses a series of simple mental exercises, is what finally freed Helen from an agony, which blighted her life for 20 years.
“The exercises seem to retrain the way that the body and mind react to electrical waves inside you so that physical symptoms gradually reduce until they disappear,” she explains
“I decided to give it a shot after reading in a migraine association newsletter about a woman who got rid of daily migraines using Resolution Magic.
“But I can honestly say that I had no faith in it working and was openly sceptical during initial conversations with Olivia Roberts, the psychotherapist and neuro-linguistic programme practitioner who devised the system.”
After talking to Olivia, who does telephone consultations, about when she had her first migraine (in early puberty) and what the initial warning signs were she began to uncover some of the past experiences in Helen’s life that she thought might be contributing to her condition.
“Looming largest was the death of my sister, Jane, who was knocked down by a car and killed as we walked home from school in Odsal, Bradford, when she was eight and I was nine,” says Helen.
“Although the experience was devastating and, as the only person with her as we stepped onto the zebra crossing, I blamed myself for her death.
“I never had counselling and Olivia began to help me to alter the way I felt about the tragedy and its dreadful aftermath.”
Olivia taught Helen some mental exercises to change the way she felt about the tragedy without having to rationalise her feelings away.
She explained that the subconscious controls the activity of the body and uses sequences to store all our routines, both good and bad.
“Unfortunately for me, my mind had adopted a sequence that was creating crippling migraine symptoms.
“Olivia showed me how to do a simple mental exercise every couple of hours whenever I had a migraine so that my mind would gradually switch to a new pain free sequence.”
Helen says the process took real inner strength, as she had to be alert to the first signs of a migraine developing, even while she slept, and act immediately, no matter how off the scale the pain became.
Within a month, Helen enjoyed a gap of two weeks without symptoms.
“Then I had the mother of all migraines and had to draw on huge inner reserves to continue with the programme.
“The gaps between migraines grew longer, first a month, then three months then eventually six months. The intensity and duration also reduced with each attack.”
Olivia says that symptoms like depression, migraine, ME, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and backache are all caused by the same thing – our own manufactured electrical waves.
“Neurological Wave Syndrome is at the root of so many conditions.With Resolution Magic, even the most debilitating of symptoms or unwanted feelings can gradually be reduced until they disappear”
As forHelen she hasn’t had a migraine for more than three years, something she never believed possible.
No longer living in fear of the next migraine attack has been hugely liberating for her.
“There are no foods, drinks or situations I have to avoid, in fact Olivia positively encouraged me to de-sensitise myself using a special mental exercise while I tried things – wine, dark chocolate, cheese – which would have previously induced blinding headaches.”