Anxiety Success stories
In the past, I have helped people voluntarily, answered emails and met with people one to one. In this time I have seen and spoke with many people who have recovered or are well on their way to recovery. Below are a small section of these people who have passed their stories on to me. Nothing has been changed in anyway; these are real stories from real people and are just a very small percentage of the people who get in touch with me each year to tell me how well they are doing. These are not testimonials; they have been placed here to give encouragement to others.
Hi, I just wanted to come here and tell my story of the new attitude I have learnt and how much progress I have made.
I have progressed from experiencing anxiety every day, thick depersonalisation, unrelenting fear and wandering thoughts that had to do with everything and anything, to a new me. After time it comes off in layers. Of course your perception is stuck on you for a while, but it makes too much sense to even question, as all you have been doing is noticing and fearing everything that's been going on.
Anyway, the main thing we have to keep in mind that I got out of Paul's book and found to be the most helpful, is understanding that, in order to get better, it is VITAL to feel terrible… Feeling awful, whether it be anxiety, depersonalisation or panic, is the key to overcoming all of this. It is more than important that we feel it. Sounds weird, but when you are trying to get over anxiety, it is the ANXIETY you are feeling that is going to help you overcome these issues. We need to look at it as the friend that it is to us in this process rather than the enemy we fear so much.
Without feeling the anxiety, how are we going to show ourselves that it is not a threat anymore? Whenever the anxiety comes, we go “Oh my God its happening again, no, I'm scared” Well, that is telling us it is a threat and if we even feel a tiny bit of it, we are going to feel threatened. Of course these triggers are going to make us feel anxious and bring on all the issues again, because the triggers ignite that reaction we have had to anxiety for so long, which is nothing but attention, fear, and panic.
WE HAVE TO TEACH OURSELVES TO CHANGE OUR REACTION TO ANXIETY.
In order to implement this, we MUST feel the anxiety; the anxiety HAS to be there to change our mentality. We have to teach ourselves to have a different reaction WHILE we are feeling these feelings. Before, it has been so much fear and attention. We give the feelings so much power that even the slightest trigger can bring them back up to the point where the cycle starts again. But when we change our reaction to the issues we are dealing with, over time, we learn to respond to them differently, and over time we take the power away.
In my personal road to recovery, every time I felt anxiety, fear, panic, DP or intense thoughts, I would almost be happy about it. Here is my chance to change this cycle, RIGHT NOW!! With these feelings I can reverse this thing, as I accept these feelings, I am changing my reaction to them, which takes their power away. I am going to sit back and let them come, and let them make me feel however I feel. If anything I would want them to stay for as long as they wanted to. The longer the feelings stayed with me, the longer I had the opportunity to teach myself that these are not a threat and I don't have to feel threatened. Over time, I taught my mind to react to these feelings this way, rather than “oh my God, I'm so scared. What is wrong with me? I'm never going to get out of this. I must fix it” Of course you feel uncomfortable still, but it's almost like you learn to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable…
It truly is a process. You have to train your mind to think differently and in time it will react differently to these feelings, rather than with fear and frustration, the very things that keep them coming. The most important message I got out of this book was the desire for the anxiety to be there, as it was the only way to make progress with this.
It makes so much sense looking back. Before, I viewed anxiety and everything that came with it as the thickest terror of the world and when it had its hold on me I just felt helpless. Now, through this book, I look at it as almost a teacher who is on my side and wants me to succeed, as whenever it's around, that is when I have the opportunity to grow.
So remember “Anxiety is not a disease, therefore it needs no cure”.
Hi, I'm 21 and a 4th year nursing student. I suffered an anxiety attack in April of 2008 and went down the road of deep thinking and constant worry about how I was feeling, which left me with constant anxiety and feelings of depersonalisation. I found Paul's information in the summer and started applying it to my life. It took a while to understand the information and truly apply it to my life. I just want to say that my anxiety has been leaving me layer by layer. I want to tell you all, or reassure you all, that it is TRULY a process.
The key is to LIVE as normal as possible and focus on outside OUTWARD tasks like reading, exercising and socialising. This stops the constant inward thinking of your condition and gives the mind the break it needs. As I applied this behaviour, I noticed moments of normality that kept adding up as the days passed!!!!
I am not yet fully recovered. However, I feel it is just around the corner. It's just a matter of keeping my mind busy and focusing on outward tasks rather than me. This does not mean I run around frantically doing things to forget my anxiety as this would be running away. No, if it's there, it's there.
Everyone worries that they may be the only one who doesn't recover. It is part of the self-doubt that we all have when suffering. But keep following Paul's advice. Live your normal life alongside anxiety, accept the thoughts and let them be in the background. Try not to analyse them (it takes practice I know - but small steps at first) and face any fears that you may have head on. Do not avoid doing things and going to places that you would have done before the anxiety, even if you feel strange. You are changing behaviour and to do this you need to live alongside the old behaviour for a while until the new behaviour overtakes the old one. I also now understand that if I do TRY to feel better, then it is actually causing me to care about how I am feeling, which causes the worry and obsessing habit to return. I think I am on track with something here. It's that basic need to be in control that holds us back
I promise you Paul's method works, it has been a life saver for me. I truly hope this encourages other people.
I am truly understanding the message about not trying to constantly care or fix how I feel.
Think of it this way. An example: my mom has no anxiety whatsoever. She is happy 95% of the time. She doesn't have things better than anyone else. She just does a few things every day and is content with those few small things. BUT SHE IS NEVER THINKING OF WAYS TO FEEL GOOD, NEVER. It doesn't cross her mind. “Oh what can I do that will make me feel happy?” No. “Oh maybe this subconscious conditioning CD will help me feel good.” No. “Oh maybe I can make my life better by thinking about X.” No. Instead, she wakes up and says, “I've got to go and meet some people from my women's group at church. I've got to get groceries. I'm going to make some coffee. I should try and find something my daughter will like at the thrift store. I should write a letter to Aunt Sheryl, Kelly, David. I should read the newspaper. I should go for a walk”. She's just not thinking about herself.
My uncle had depression and anxiety and has been going to a psychiatrist for 30 years. When I talked to him about it, he still has it! I wish I could tell him that he is doing the wrong thing, but who is going to listen to a 23 year old punk kid, right? Anyway the message is: happy people are out doing things. They are doing things with people. They are not thinking existential crap all day like me. They are not thinking about themselves the way WE have been. We get out of this trap by allowing all the thoughts to be there until our mind is just so sick of them that we finally find other stuff to occupy ourselves with. I go to the bookstore every day, the mall every other day, talk to friends, read funny stuff online, watch funny movies, go to church, call relatives, go to the used record store, bike ride. I just kept on living this horrible nightmare, and now my symptoms are almost entirely gone. They are gone because I said: “YES, IT IS A NIGHTMARE, and I DON'T CARE. DO YOUR WORST, I'M NOT GONNA GIVE UP.” In conclusion, now every day is great, except for small periods of strangeness, but, hey, again ‘So what!'
In a certain sense I have always been a bit of a worrier and used to freak myself out that I had every illness in the world. My biggest fear was (like many) going mad or “losing my mind”. Well this site and Paul's book has been a wonderful help to me, and it's only been TWO days since I read the book.
I suffered a very tragic loss in Oct 07 (stillbirth at 25 weeks) and it tore my reality apart. Literally, I went into tremendous shock and was so upset that what I was feeling was happening to me, to ME!!! The world terrified the holy crap out of me and I had no idea who/what/where/how I was.
Somehow I held it together, after so much falling apart it didn't seem possible. Anxiety was HUGE at the start, I had no idea what was happening to me at all. I was terrified I was going to get postnatal depression/post natal psychosis (because others did) etc. etc. I convinced myself at one stage that I actually had it and, of course, cue the scary thoughts which fuelled that belief. I got so depressed thinking I had it and so the cycle went on.
We moved house and I went back to work. This lifted my spirits for a few weeks, but I felt the down-ness coming back again and it kind of spiralled up until a few weeks ago when, on a Saturday, the feelings and scary thoughts got SO bad that I honestly thought that day I was having a nervous breakdown. The scary thoughts were the worst for me. I was convinced I could do some harm to my partner - so bad that I was terrified of my kitchen knives (ALL BECAUSE OF ONE THOUGHT) and because I pondered and completely obsessed about that thought, I was convinced even more that I had post natal depression which made me worse and so it went on and on -cycles of anxiety, fear, depression, adrenalin, frayed nerves…not sleeping…EXHAUSTED physically and mentally!!!
How I continued going to work I will never know. I was going around like a ghost, like a shell; it was awful. I was beating myself up constantly because I SHOULD have been feeling better…I just should have. But I shouldn't! I found Paul's site. Believe me, I am a true information gatherer and, of course, like many of us, convinced myself that I had every symptom, disorder etc. The amount of times I asked my partner if he thought I had this or that. No amount of convincing would pacify me.
Then I found Paul! It's only been a few days, but now I finally realise what's causing all of this. Yes, I went through a terrible trauma. Of course my poor mind and body wanted and needed to shut down. But did I give it the break it deserved and needed…NO! Of course I didn't. Now I finally realise where the bodily feelings come from…adrenalin people…adrenalin on a tired body and mind!! That's simply it.
I thought I was doing okay until we were on our way back from Manchester on an early morning flight. My stomach turned once at the thought of going back home and BAM that started me off thinking “oh no, it's starting again” and I was messed up for weeks. Then I came across Paul's book (Thank You).
I have learned that no matter what I'm feeling it's okay.. It's okay. And that's all there is to it. Whatever I am feeling, I am feeling and that's okay. If I feel de-realism…is it any wonder? My mind is tired and shut off and needs a break…so it's okay. If my stomach churns (which it still does a lot) that's okay, just sensitised nerves. My body has developed a habit and my memory believes that somehow I'm not safe - that's okay too - habits take time to change. It's all part of it, and that's okay. If my hands shake, sure, that's okay too, my nerves are a little fraught at the minute …I'm still working away.
Scary thoughts…I've learned a lot from this one… I didn't believe that if I just followed Paul's advice when the thoughts came, it would work. Believe me, I'm a sceptic when it comes to ME!…It worked.
I know I am only 2 days into it but when they come, let them in, see them bounce around in there, let them have a stretch and roar and shout at you…that's okay...that's the over production of adrenalin needing an outlet. That's where the thoughts come from in the first place and because you placed so much importance on them when they first came, your mind thinks there is seriously some danger in that thought. There is NOT!
Let it in…pay it no attention. Give it space and time and let it run alongside your day. I didn't believe it would work, but it did. The thoughts just don't seem as scary. They are still there but just a teeny bit less scary. Just don't stress over it. Take the fear out of it and what have you got? A thought and nothing else.
I have many scary thoughts, that's my difficult one, but if I keep following the advice, understanding where they come from and letting them have their space and time…they eventually lose their edge and I find I can go an hour and then think ‘oh I haven't thought that in a while'. Then it comes back and I do the same all over again: “come on in…take your time but I am not going to pay you much attention”
It's been working so far and I am only starting this journey. I believe it will help me with previous scary thoughts that I had. I now realise that they too came when I was going through some tough times. Yes my friends, anxiety. Accept whatever you are feeling. Don't “try” to let it go, don't force it away and don't try to make yourself feel better. Don't try to talk yourself down, but invite every bit of it in. Live it, experience it, realise that it's all a part of what you are going through. Don't fear it. You WILL NOT collapse and die. So what if you look a bit weird in front of people? This is you now (just for now and that's okay) getting better and you will soon be back to your old self. Remove the fear and you remove the problem. It lives on fear, but through understanding and perseverance I believe we all can come through, just as Paul has, and will never have to worry about anxiety again.