Heena* had significant stomach issues for over four years. After going from doctor to doctor, and taking multiple tests, no report mentioned any physiological problems. Hailing from Yemen, she witnessed the civil war of 2015 when she was home alone with her younger siblings. Being the parent of the house during war conditions as her parents couldn’t return from their travels before the onset of the war, she took on a lot of stress. Her stomach issues started then along with other severe symptoms. She had come to India to seek medical support for her physiological symptoms and came to us when she found no solution to her struggles.

Once she briefed her psychologist about what was going on, they focused initially on speaking about her trauma as she revealed that she wasn’t speaking to anybody about how she was feeling. She was in denial of the pain she went through and suppressed it too. After 2 sessions, she finally opened up about her family issues and how the war affected her. Despite all of this, she was extremely high-functioning. She was good at her job and could take care of herself and be responsible for her chores. Heena* was given some activities as homework like having some me time, practicing mindfulness, and spending time with friends. The other sessions focused on her constant worry about her family members and work life, which contributed to her pain. Heena* was then psycho-educated about the connection between the brain and stomach and the inevitability of stress and pain.

With the help of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, they came up with a coping strategy of a compassionate inner dialogue to tell herself that she’s doing her best and that’s good enough. Some breathing exercises and other techniques were also implemented which helped Heena* look at her pain in a different light and not be in denial any longer. After almost 2 months, Heena* improved significantly and was able to manage herself, and her family issues and improved her understanding of pain.

(*name changed for anonymity)