Sunday, September 11, 2011

Anxiety Disorders: 100% curable!


How the hell is that possible?

You might not believe this, but over 20 years ago, I suffered from panic attacks. With the right direction, I was completely cured within 6 months and have been cured ever since. In fact, panic attacks and panic disorder would never work on me nowadays. I have a skill set that makes it impossible for it to be an effective means to get my attention. I still to this day sponsor people in their recoveries and inspire them. Y'all know me well enough to find it impossible to believe that this high-energy, ambitious, excited about life, goofy, risk-taking gal would ever have been afraid of her own thoughts and her own body!

If anyone is a poster gal for complete recovery, it's me!

Ironically, the worst things to ever happen to me, happened after recovery from the loss of over a dozen loved ones, a horrible marriage, a divorce, living on my own for my first time--yet none of them made me go under because I changed my relationship with my mind and how I talk to myself--I am my best coach and not my most fearful enemy!

When I recovered, I took over an anxiety self help group and gave lectures, workshops and wrote articles printed around the world on the subject. Anxiety disorders are totally curable and it should only take 12 weeks. If any therapist wants to keep someone in therapy for years on end, they are not giving the person what they need--cognitive behavioral therapy, rational-emotive therapy which go hand-in-hand.

Here's some basics I can impart:

People with anxiety disorders have some family tendencies to have anxiety/depression issues. They might complain of fibromyalgia. They very often expect perfection of themselves. They very often have a life issue they don't want to face, whether it's new parenthood, a dying marriage, or other matters they do not want to deal with. Instead, they focus inward "what is wrong with me???" They would rather have a physical ailment than to admit the real issues going on in their life that need resolution. They do no like confrontation, anger or assertion.

It seems like panic attacks come out of the blue, but they don't. There were things leading up to that moment including poor sleep, too much caffeine intake, stressors, loss of appetite, mind racing, feelings of detachment from meaning to things that once held importance, withdrawal, and more.

Basics: The panic attack begins, crests, and dissipates. It has no choice. It's the nature of an adrenaline rush. Your body is on high alert from racing thoughts, unresolved issues, and taking one's own thoughts as reality. By the time the heart races, the body goes numb, the breathing catches, you break out in sweat and tremble, your mind takes the symptoms and gallops off to one of two conclusions: "I am going crazy" or "I am dying." Either of these thoughts makes your alert system rise even higher.

The greatest truth: The only thing that feeds panic attacks is fear of panic attacks.

So long as the symptoms make you jump and run or freak out and call out for help, this "on" button will continue to sound off. The more frightened you are of a panic attack, the more your baseline anxiety and the more likely you will get another one. It's like living with Jigsaw the killer 24/7 and feeling unable to sleep safely without a clown doll on a tricycle chasing you down.

Here's the truth about panic attacks--they rise to a crescendo and then subside. One time, while having a panic attack, I recalled what I was told to observe it, not name it, just watch it rise and subside like a sexual climax. When I saw it in that light, I realized a few key things--you cannot physically die and you cannot go insane. You must quite fearing your body's reactions. If you were to eat a cabbage supper and had gas pains all evening, you wouldn't freak out, you'd take some Gas-X and hide in the bathroom so folks don't have to share the joy of cabbage fermenting in intestines.

I tell people with pain issues to rename it. Use words like "warm," "tight," "heavy." This is better than, "I cannot bear this pain!" "Something must be very wrong with me!" "I'm going out of my mind with pain!"

One boss I had called me from the ER. "They want to give me an IV. I can't do needles!" I told her that instead of bearing down against the needle like it was an invader, I wanted her to inhale and breathe in healthy oxygen for her body and let that needle enter to give her healing medicine. Draw it in, don't fight against it. Welcome it to bring her comfort. It worked.

It's all about change of perspective.

Our bodies don't know the difference between something actually happening and a thought in our head. Ask someone who hates snakes to imagine going outdoors where a snake was recently seen. He is likely to totally lose it just from his thoughts and not from a real encounter. It also cranks up chemicals in your body. You wonder how the body can do that? Look at porn some time and see if you don't feel warmth in your nether parts. The mind is made to release chemicals in the body when necessary and sometimes those chemicals for fight or flight are completely unnecessary--no real assault has occurred, but we fed our mind tragic thoughts. Over time, when you do this, your build up chemicals in your bodies that prepare for that eventual panic attack.

You must quit taking your thoughts seriously!

Basics: Just because you thought something, doesn't make it the truth. You must call into question any thoughts you have or assumptions you make. Put them on trial and prove them wrong. You want to know how well this works? Try this life-changing exercise:

Write down 5 assumptions you've always had about you, perhaps messages given to you by friends and elders like "I am lazy," "I am stupid," and others. When you have all 5 of them written out, I want you to write down the proof they are not true. Go through your lifetime and prove all the times you were not lazy, were not stupid. Now, re-write that statement to be more accurate. "I can work hard when an issue is hot and important," "I can learn new skills and apply them." How do you feel now?

Some people do need to use medications during the worst of times because they cannot function in their daily duties, but it should not be a life sentence. Working with the prescribing doctor, you can wean yourself off within 6 months' time.

If you or someone you love has issues with anxiety, phobias, panic or depression, I would recommend these two books that changed my life so much that they were considered my "bibles" for recover and for the group that I led.

"The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns, M.D. This has quizzes, examples, and ways to gauge your anxiety. Very practical. Very enlightening!

"The New Guide to Rational Living" by Albert Ellis, Robert Harper and Melvin Powers. This book teaches you the cognitive distortions that lead to all illogical feelings whether they are anxiety, anger, rage, fear, or other extreme emotions. When we tell ourselves things using these cognitive distortions, we have out of proportion emotions. "Black and White Thinking" "Because something happens today, it will always happen," and "Negating the Positives" are all examples. When you learn to recognize these distortions, you can literally prevent yourself from having unhealthy emotions. This knowledge keeps you evaluating things logically and having logic-based emotions and a very productive and happy life.

I honestly suggest the books to change your life, whether you suffer from anxiety or not. If you have only 2 books for self-help on your shelves, these two will give you a happy productive life and healthy relationships! I used many of these principles in my book "Was That a Ghost?" and in what I do to help folks suffering paranormal experiences. Many people can have activity in their homes, but how they handle it and what they tell themselves about it makes all the difference in whether they wish to flee or live in comfort and assured, even curious by the encounters.

Some celebrities who have spoken about their anxiety issues:

Isaac Asimov (author)
Kim Basinger (actress)
Roseanne Barr (comedian)
David Bowie (singer)Charlotte Bronte (author)
Robert Burns (poet)
Barbara Bush (former First Lady - U.S.)
John Candy (comedian)
Earl Campbell (football star)
Naomi Campbell (model)
Dean Cain (actor)
Deanna Carter (singer)
Ray Charles (musician)
Eric Clapton (musician)
Dick Clark (television personality)
Cher (singer, actress)
Michael Crichton (writer)
Sheryl Crow (musician)
Johnny Depp (actor)
Tony Dow (actor director)
Jim Eisenreich (baseball)
Michael English (singer)
Edie Falco (actress)
Sally Field (actress)
Sigmund Freud (psychiatrist)
Aretha Franklin (singer)
James Garner (actor)
Barbara Gordon (filmmaker)
Shecky Greene (comedian)
Pete Harnisch (baseball star)
Anthony Hopkins (actor)
Olivia Hussey (actress)
Beverly Johnson (supermodel)
Naomi Judd (singer)
Al Kasha (songwriter)
Leila Kenzle (actress)
Nicole Kidman (actress)
Courtney Love (singer - actress)
John Madden (announcer)
Howie Mandel (comic)
Robert McFarlane (former National Security Advisor - U.S.)
John Cougar Mellancamp (musician, actor)
John Stuart Mill (philosopher)
Alanis Morisette (singer)
Edvard Munch (artist)
Sir Isaac Newton (scientist)
Lani O'Grady (actress)
Sir Laurence Olivier (actor)
Donny Osmond (actor)
Marie Osmand (entertainer)
Robin Quivers (radio host)
Bonnie Raitt (musician)
Burt Reynolds (actor)
Joan Rivers (actress)
Winona Ryder (actress)
Charles Schultz (cartoonist)
Willard Scott (weatherman)
Sam Shepard (playwright)
Sissy Spacek (actress)
Carly Simon (singer)
Tom Snyder (host)
John Steinbeck (author)
Howard Stern (king of media)
Barbra Streisand (singer)
Dave Stewart of the (singer – Eurythmics)
Nikola Tesla (inventor)Susan Powter (tv host)
Anne Tyler (author)
Ricky Williams (atlete)
Ann Wilson (singer)
Oprah Winfrey (host)
W.B. Yeats (poet)

Famous OCD Sufferers:

Dan Ackroyd (actor)
Jessica Alba (actress / model))
Woody Allen (actor / director)
Natalie Appleton (pop singer)
Alec Baldwin (actor)
Roseanne Barr (actress)
David Beckham (athlete)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (composer)
Charles Darwin (biologist / writer)
Ian Puleston-Davies (actor)
Cameron Diaz (actress)
Leonardo Dicaprio (actor)
Penélope Cruz (actress)
Fred Durst (musician)
Albert Einstein (physicist)
Jim Eisenreich (athlete)
Harrison Ford (actor)
Paul Gascoigne (athlete)
Kathie Lee Gifford (TV host)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (actress)
Jane Horrocks (actress / musician)
Howard Hughes (producer / industrialist)
Dr. Samuel Johnson (author)
Stanley Kubrick (director)
Howie Mandel (actor / comedian)
Rose McGowan (actress)
John Melendez (comedian)
Michelangelo (artist / engineer)
Joey Ramone (vocalist / songwriter)
Martin Scorsese (director / producer)
Charlie Sheen (actor)
Mark Summers (TV host)
Billy Bob Thornton (actor)
Justin Timberlake (singer / performer)
Donald Trump (business magnate)
Warren Zevon (musician)

12 comments:

  1. I have Social Anxiety and tend to avoid puplic places like the mall. It's funny because I work with the public.

    I get panic attacks when I have to drive somewhere unfamiliar. I have a fear of driving and didn't get my license until I was 25.

    I use meditation and breathing exercises to help get me through my anxieties.

    Great post!!

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  2. VM;
    Those are extremely common. When I gave up expecting myself to look like I know what I'm doing and worrying about looking stupid, it helped a lot. I used to fear going to new places in the car, but then, that's kind of what gas station attendants are for and off-ramps. You can always backtrack, ask questions, sit in the car a while and figure it out. It's never going to be perfect. I practiced asking questions of strangers and looking for places that are hard to find and having to go into shops and ask for directions. I realized, not only am I allowed to not know what the freak I'm doing, but people are really nice and helpful. Always be comfortable with pointing our your own foibles. I find that when I'm public speaking, if I forget what I was going to say next, I sort of roll my eyes and laugh. "Bear with me, apparently my mind was distracted by the pretty lights." Everyone laughs. I'm allowed to redirect. I had a therapist one time tell me, who would you rather hang with? Martha Stewart or Julia Roberts? One is overly concerned by how she appears and is without flaw and the other one bumbles and laughs too loud and is natural. Yeah, we all like Julia, it's why we secretly cheered with Martha went to jail. Be real. Once you become real and okay with being goofy or making mistakes, then the world receives you with open arms and loads of love. No one wants someone so wound up tightly they worry how they appear all the time. They adore those who are totally willing to laugh at themselves and be warm and spontaneous. When I let the real me free and gave up the perfect me, the world was so welcoming and friendly and I moved around it in great comfort instead of feeling I was constantly internally jousting. Well, that's my advice. Just give up appearances.

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  3. Thank you so much for this post ! I suffer from Anxiety/Depression and I feel like a total prisoner. It's gotten worse and I really don't want to suffer anymore.

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  4. Thanks for the advice. I've gotten really good at laughing at myself. My customers love that about me. My driving has gotten better through the years, though I will still not turn at certain intersections. I just drive around the block to a less busier one.

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  5. Senorita;
    Just know that the fear of the symptoms is what feeds it and creates more chemicals in the body that make you feel worse and then when you feel worse, your mind gets more worried. A lot of people talk about emotions as if they are something that just well out of our bodies from some unknown source. We can't help our feelings, right? Well, we actually can. We cannot have a feeling without first having a thought. When I watched the plane hit the tower in NY, my first thought was "what kind of radio controller do they have? Is he blind?" My feeling was disgust. Then, as the second plane hit, my mind thought "that's not a coincidence. Someone MEANT to hit the building." Then, I began to feel fear and anger. Until I had a thought about the experience--there was no emotion yet. You cannot have a feeling without a thought first. So, you must observe the things you tell yourself when your body gets symptoms. You know it can't make you go crazy or die and so it means that you must live through it. Once you just observe the symptoms and let them pass, they lose the ability to make you jump and run. Instead of spending time worrying about when they will hit again and dreading and fearing it, you start working on your inner dialogue. "So what if it happens again, it's just body symptoms. I get symptoms with my period. I get symptoms when I eat ice cream too fast. So what?" Once you free yourself of the fear of the sensations, then you can start working on how you interpret everything you encounter in your day and how unrealistically you are talking to yourself, like a gloom and doom peanut gallery. I would suggest those two books. When you really get to see how it all works and test it and feel better, you realize you have utter control of your body because your mind tells your body to produce chemicals/hormones depending on what you tell it. That is why meditation does such amazing things for the body. We suspend all anxiety and just hit the "reset" button.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have severe depression and anxiety.
    The way I stop myself from having panic attacks is reading. I read about 50% of my day away. I take 50mg of zoloft a day and see a therapist every 3 weeks. I started this blog to help me through this. It's great to hear other people go through the same thing. :)

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  7. The power of the human mind is a wonderful thing!

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  8. HR; I'm so glad you found my blog, sweetie. I have been sponsoring people as they recover for over 20 years and there is nothing as satisfying as seeing people live to their full potential and use the ability of the mind to give them a completely new life experience. My life is night and day compared to where it was. I don't even remember that woman any longer. No limits. It's not only possible, it's completely do-able. Lots of famous celebrities are in the limelight having recovered and living satisfying lives.

    Zombie--That's true! The mind can hurt you or help you. I literally am the only person I would want running my life because I know my capability and my tenacity. I also am my own best company. In the throes of the worst panic--I was terrified to be alone with my thoughts. They tormented me.

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  9. I've been Anxiety and Depression free for about two years and I couldn't be any happier :) Not being on those pills and having that stuff disrupt my life...
    I can't see myself this successful and busy two years ago. ^.^

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  10. Soraya; I am so proud of you, sweetie. What you did is quit fighting yourself and accept yourself, quirks, interests, focus, talents, and all. Most of us who have suffered know the square peg/round hole syndrome. Night and day, isn't it?

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  11. Thank you so much for this post ! I suffer from Depression and I really hate to be depressed more. but to read your post it would be great support to me. self help may be one and the best to be secure. and describing the feelings is key to success.

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  12. Hi,
    this is very nice blog. I just had very very bad panic attack, and now reading your blog and trying to sleep. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

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