Tuesday, December 10, 2013

149 The anxiety cure

For reasons unknown many creative people suffer from uncontrollable anxiety. Three months ago after an exceptionally anxiety ridden week I woke up and said to myself, “if you don’t cure your anxiety your career is over”. It was a radical thought–one that came out of the blue–but I knew it was true.

But I didn’t know how to find a cure. I’m reasonably well versed in the tenants of psychology. I reviewed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which I studied years ago as an effective cure for depression. Unfortunately it had no effect on my anxiety. I tried meditation–a practice I abandoned years ago as anxiety overwhelmed all attempts to relax. It still didn’t work. I could only assume a meditative pose while anxiety played my nervous system like a bass fiddle.

A week later I attended a Christmas Bazaar and a physical therapist named Sharik Peck was giving complimentary massages. As I received my massage I told him about my anxiety. He said he had developed a new therapy that proved successful for many of his patients. I made an appointment and days later experienced the therapy. It was simple–I liked that part of it–but I suspected it might be too simple. During my first session I only had a moderately positive response.

Sharik told me to do the exercise every day. The first week was bad as I had additional stress from worry about the therapy not working (you have to have anxiety disorder to fully understand such absurd logic). But I stuck with it and within a couple of days I had the most amazing experience–no stress. I mean zero. It was incredible. I realized I had suffered from acute stress for decades. A profound peace enveloped me. My wife and daughter could see the difference in my face. I had found the silver bullet to vanquish anxiety.

After the anxiety dissipated I had a keen awareness how stress had disrupted every aspect of my life. It affected my relationships with friends, coworkers, and family. I saw how my condition had distanced people who might otherwise have helped me. It was humbling. On the other hand I was proud of myself for having lived on a volcano yet managed a semblance of normal life. No one knew–nor will ever know–how much discipline I exerted to hold it all together. Now I could use my emotional energy in more productive ways.

I’ve waited a month before sharing this process. It was possible the therapy invoked a placebo effect, a phenomenon that artists, with our vivid imaginations, are highly susceptible to. I’ve had many unfavorable experiences with the placebo effect and have no desire to share disappointment. I am sure this is a legitimate cure. I'm equally sure it won’t work with everyone. But for me it is as close to a miracle cure as I can imagine.

It is a simple therapy and if you live in Northern Utah I highly recommend making an appointment with Sharik Peck. If you live elsewhere drop him an email and he may have advice he can share with you. In time I suspect he may even have a video or other resources available online.

For me the foundation for banishing anxiety was Sherik Peck’s therapy but I felt it prudent to supplement my success by reading a few books on the subject (see below). From reading these two books I have resumed meditation, re-embraced elements of cognitive therapy, and am taking a high quality fish oil supplement (there is compelling evidence that fish oil helps with anxiety). If you know other resources let me know.

We are all unique. It is unlikely that what worked for me will work for everyone. But it might work for some. I wish you success in your search to be the best and happiest person you can be.

Update: I added a regimen of EMDR therapy to shore up my recovery. I use an inexpensive audio recording as well as doing some EMDR therapy with Linda Martin. EMDR therapy is explained in detail in the book The Instinct to Heal listed below. A related condition called High Sensitivity worsens stress. Read about it here).


Brad Teare December 2013

18 comments:

  1. Congratulations on recognizing your problem and finding a therapy that works! I thought, from noticing your affect on your videos, that you might be suffering from depression, but I guess that anxiety presents the same way.
    Anyway, best wishes for a renewed burst of energy and creativity.

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    Replies
    1. I think anxiety leads to depression because it just wears you out. Being anxiety ridden is like being in high gear all the time. Not good! When I started doing the videos the anxiety nearly killed me. And it shows! I think anxiety could present itself as bipolar disorder too because it flips back and forth between exhaustion and bursts of energy. Funny thing was that I would get as cranked up and miserable with something I was enthused about as with something that was worrying me. What a roller coaster ride (not in a good way either!) You are very observant! Thanks for your support! :)

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    2. Thank you Brad for sharing. It was very timely... and thank you for your suggestions on how to get a handle on this. You are not alone... Thoreau said, 'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.' Dismal thought.

      I too deal with anxiety. My dad was severely bi-polar - a condition that dramatically effected his [and his families] life....it seems that many plagued by unrelenting anxiety are high functioning... so they don't prioritize dealing with it... they live on the volcano and coping assuming that is the only thing they can do short of psychotropic medications or years of therapy. Not true there are things that can help nutritionally - fish oil, B vitamins, l theanine and magnesium... Life style changes.... exercise, meditation and prayer... processing the anxiety along the way.

      My faith [Christian] offers the perspective, "we are transformed by the renewing our minds..." Science supports that. We can rewire our response to life... breathing, processing our thoughts, reframing...

      Happy to hear you are effectively dealing with anxiety and minimizing the pain it brings to life. By the way, admire your artwork. You are truly gifted.

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    3. I appreciate your kind words! Things have been going well. I love that verse. Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

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  2. Thanks for this post. I've had some good results with accupuncture. Who cares is these are placebos? If they help, then they help, and without the physical side effects of pills.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Except for me the placebo effect wears off after a month or so. In the book "The Instinct to Heal" there is a whole chapter on acupuncture. The evidence is strong that it is good for stress. Western medicine hasn't figured out how it works though so many doctors are reluctant to prescribe it.

      I will have to give it a try! Thanks for recommending it!

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    2. "Except for me the placebo effect wears off after a month or so."
      Yes, it can wear off, but the pill effect wears off as soon as your body processes the medicine, which is how long? A couple days? If the pill effect works for you at all... A month with out anxiety is a pretty nice month for me.
      Maggie

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    3. I agree, Maggie. I would say that if you can repeat the experience month after month that is good evidence it is not a placebo effect but a real remedy. I agree as well that using a pill is probably not good long term.

      I think acupuncture is an awesome solution. I'd like to try it even though my current non-pill therapy is working great. I love being stress free! It is a small miracle (actually it is a huge miracle for me!)

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    4. Brad your story is a great inspiration! Thank you for posting. I have watched the many video's on Sharik's (my mind and poor eyes keep reading "Shark" :^D) technique. I think this might just be an answer to long, long standing issue... I will soon be working this process to find out.

      Thought precedes emotions and emotions manifest in the body. I'm surprised you have survived so well but you have! I am very grateful for your post. Just in the nick of time for me.

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    5. I'm glad it was timely information for you, VanGoghGirl. I was grateful for it too. I don't miss a day without doing my anti-anxiety exercises (thank you, Sharik!). Just to be on the safe side I'm also doing EMDR therapy as suggested by the book Instinct to Heal. So far so good. I will do another blog on it in a couple of months (I want to be sure the results are permanent). Thanks so much for your comments!

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  3. Brad, thank you for sharing your experiences. A couple of months ago I found an amazing new twist on the exercises. Call me when you get a chance sometime and I will let you know what we found. Thanks again for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sharik. I will definitely call. I appreciate your help.

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