‘Vaso….what?’ was my reaction when I heard this term for the first time.

A wife called from Mumbai and shared her situation that her husband is suffering from ‘Vasovagal Syncope’ (as doctors say). I listened to her patiently and my curious mind immediately searched it online parallel to my conversation with her on phone. Let me first describe this term as its making you also curious about it.

Vasovagal Syncope (VVS) is a syndrome. It may also be called neurocardiogenic syncope. It occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. The vasovagal syncope trigger causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. That leads to reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to briefly lose consciousness. But it’s possible you may injure yourself during a vasovagal syncope episode. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org). In short, a person suddenly faints and blood pressure drops for no reason. Something triggers and body reacts. Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment (as per the doctors).

It defines VVS as a syncope syndrome that usually:

  1. Occurs with upright posture greater than 30 seconds, or with exposure to emotional stress, pain, or medical settings;
  2. Features diaphoresis, warmth, nausea, and pallor;
  3. Is associated with hypotension and relative bradycardia, when known; and
  4. Is followed by fatigue.

I think this much is enough to wonder, surprise, puzzle and shock a person. I had never heard of this ever in my life. So, I called the couple to my office to have a first interaction. And on a lovely morning, a handsome gentleman walked into my office with a beautiful lady (worried and tensed though). And we had a good 10 minutes conversation about their lives and work. Then my focus shifted to the husband as he kept on saying ‘I don’t know what is happening to me. Right now also I am not feeling comfortable in the room. Can we go out in the open space and talk?’

We went out in the open space (office terrace) and started talking. I was observing his language and physiology. His physiology kept on changing with the change in his language. And he kept on repeating few words like ‘I don’t know’, ‘It’s a weird feeling’, ‘When I keep thinking about it, it happens’, ‘I get anxious but don’t know for what reason.’ In psychology, principle of the Triad says ‘all behaviors, including emotions are made up of three elements working together.’ There are patterns of physiology, patterns of mental focus that determines your experience and patterns of the language that controls the way you describe your experience to self and others. All three together create meanings that determine the way we experience our life.

Hence, I was noticing changes in his physiology as he would express his feelings. Then he would change his focus to something else and bring back his thoughts that would disturb him. He also shared that the thought of meeting someone or talking to somebody would make him anxious. The reason; he/she would ask about his health, his mental state and then he would have to describe, go through those moments of syncope again, rewind in his mind and share….’it’s too much. Better I don’t meet them or rather any’ as he would describe it.

It was important for me to identify what is the trigger for him that puts him in this state. I was also noticing a pattern in him for his behavior. Identifying a pattern is important so as to break/interrupt it. I used rapport techniques to make him feel comfortable and he started sharing more about his teenage, childhood life. As he was sharing his life situations, his beliefs or rather rules of life were evident in his language. I kept on challenging his limiting beliefs using language patterns. This made him realize certain important corners of his life.

I have always found that using metaphors during such sessions helps greatly. I would like to share a metaphor that I used here. I directed his attention towards something meaningful. He kept on saying ‘I don’t know but it happens with me when I keep thinking about it.’ I told him, remember as a child we used to play with water when it would spill on the table. And with our finger or pencil we would give direction to the water.’ And he added…’oh yes, I remember and wherever we direct, the water would flow in that direction.’ and he had a big smile….And I told him ‘Exactly! The same happens with our thoughts. Just direct them to the direction you want to. Remember, energy flows where attention goes.’ And this is true for every situation. Wherever and to whichever thing you would put your attention to, your energy would flow in that direction and you would take actions. The fact that you are not taking actions in a particular situation means that you have not paid attention or given attention to it.

And once I found leverage, I used that to establish a trigger that would help him to have a normal reaction or a positive action. This helped him to a great extent to reflect on what was happening. Whenever I work with such cases, I realize there is so much to do, so many people to help. It gives me immense satisfaction towards my work. I feel I am the medium to reach people who are not aware of themselves. I wish and hope to change more lives in my one precious life.

Bharti Naik – Relations Strategist