Susan's Story

It’s Never Too Late to Try a New Practice

Meditating and doing yoga just once a week allowed this Westlake woman to kick anxiety medication to the curb for good.

Susan MulhernSusan Mulhern endured grief, sadness and some anger for many years after the death of her youngest son. Then, a couple of years ago, a friend told her about Francoise Adan, MD, a psychiatrist by training who is also the director of UH Connor Integrative Health Network.

Susan had met with a psychiatrist before, but wanted a fresh start. And she was intrigued by what she knew of Dr. Adan’s holistic approach – especially because her previous psychiatrist’s treatment did not go beyond prescribing medicine.

Susan, who lives in Westlake with her husband Jim, said one of the things that Dr. Adan told her first was, “I am not going to increase your medication,” which Susan, 74, was pleased to hear.

What Dr. Adan did recommend was that she try yoga, meditation, talk therapy and continue her exercise regimen. It was the advice one might expect from someone who is a leader in integrative medicine.

Susan, like many people, had heard and read of the wisdom and efficacy of such practices, many times. But it is wisdom that’s offered for a reason – because it works.

She didn’t know that then, but she was willing to try.

So based on Dr. Adan’s advice, Susan signed up for a yoga class, began taking the free community meditation class at UH Connor’s Rocky River site each week, and exercised even more, often on the elliptical, as she and her husband began to plan for a rigorous hiking vacation. She also continued her therapy sessions.

Soon Susan was able to stop taking Ativan, a medication in the benzodiazepine family, which she had used to treat symptoms of anxiety and as a sleep aid. “Dr. Adan got me off of that,” she says. “And doing that cleared my head, while the group meditation helps me to accept the things that I – or that we all – have to deal with.”

Those include stresses that crop up with her 101-year-old father, or concerns about a son who is unemployed.

“I can let things go now,” she says, especially her worries. “I feel such a transformation after a session of yoga or meditation.”

She sometimes even enters that twilight state that can occur during deep meditation, when Theta brain waves are present. Those leave a person feeling extraordinarily calm and refreshed.

“There might have been a time when if someone told me about meditation and yoga, I would have thought it was hokey,” Susan admits. “Now, I am in such a good place. I wish I had done all this years ago.

“To anyone who feels about it the way I used to, I would say, ‘Give meditation a chance.’ ”

Learn more about UH Connor Integrative Health Network and its offerings.

Free community meditation classes are offered on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at UH Connor’s location at 25001 Emery Road 25E, Suite 100, Warrensville Heights.

You can also try one of the guided meditations offered through UH Connor for free.