This is an excellent piece of writing and a must read for anyone with a mental illness (and an open mind), more emphasise on the mind and less on medication for me all the way! There is this annoying mindset in the UK that medication must be taken very seriously when it comes to anxiety and depression. I disagree, I think this kind of mindset does much more harm than good! Yes medication may serve a purpose but only in short term and not so readily supplied. I personally have helped hundreds of people overcome their anxiety and depressive disorders simply by giving them a good understanding as to the cause of there suffering and offering them a definite programme of recovery. I believe what this country lacks is education particularly to the origin of these disorders, the neurology involved and a particular focus on the ‘mind’. Having said that, it isn’t easy to change people beliefs in medication and the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory that seems so ingrained in peoples thinking, and this is why taking people off medication can be so difficult, the power of suggestibility will always dominate. People only need to look at the increase in anxiety and depressive victims and suicide rates to realise that our current programme for recovery is way of the mark.
Detached mindfulness (A fantastic therapy especially for Generalised Anxiety Disorder). Here’s a quick guide on how to do it.
What to do when you ‘catch’ your worry and rumination (second fear)
Worry and rumination are both examples of ‘second fear’. Essentially, they are thinking styles, which, although people engage in for a reason, are ultimately unhelpful. Nothing good ever comes from worry or rumination. It is this worry and rumination that causes and prolongs your suffering.
Detached mindfulness is a way of taking a perspective on your own thinking processes in a detached way, without interpreting, analysing, controlling or reacting to them in any way. When you notice a worrying thought or image (e.g., what if….) or a ruminative thought (e.g., why me…if only…), it is important not to engage with these. Engagement involves responding to the thought, questioning the meaning of it, or having or continuing a dialogue with it in any way. It is important to remember that non-engagement is not the same as avoidance, such as trying to distract oneself from the thought or pushing it away.
Analogies of detached mindfulness:
The unruly child
Treat your intrusive thoughts as you might an unruly child that you have to look after (i.e. you cant avoid). You need to acknowledge the child is there but paying too much attention to it (engaging with it) would merely reinforce its bad behaviour, and attempting to punish the child (suppress it) would upset the child even further. Thus, the best thing to do is leave the child alone to settle of its own accord.
Intrusive thoughts can be treated as if they were clouds in the sky. That is, they are something that is passing by, and that we can do nothing about. They are part of a natural self-regulating weather system and attempting to stop or push them away is neither necessary nor possible. Even if we could, this would disturb the balance necessary for the rainfall and nature. Therefore the thing to do is let them occupy their own space and passively watch their behaviour over time.
Imagine you are on a train platform. Trains (of thought) will pull in. Rather than getting on them and become trapped inside (engaging with them), simply stand on the platform and observe them as they pull in and away. It may help to say to yourself ‘why get on this train of thought and become stressed and anxious when I can just stand on the platform and enjoy the scenery?.
*Remember cure lies in reversing the pattern and that begins in learning how to respond differently to your habitual worrying or ruminative thought patterns. In order to get a different result you need to try a different approach. It is simply the worrying and rumination that keeps you feeling the way you do…change it!
Many of us spend days, weeks, or even years looking for a person that will point us in the right direction.
A person that will not only explain our anxiety disorder in clear terms, but also how we can cope with it without going broke.
There are so many great ways to cope with anxiety, but unfortunately many of them require a lot of money.
Dr. Weekes on the other hand, provides inexpensive resources that can actually make you feel better.
Now, Dr. Claire Weekes ( 1903 – 1990) is not a caped crusader. She was a medical doctor and writer from Australia that spent over 40 years helping people like me and you.
Dr. Weekes is an anxiety superhero in that she also suffered from what she called “Nervous Illness,” but never allowed it to rule her life. She designed a basic program for recovery that was focused on overcoming what she called the three main pitfalls of nervous illness (anxiety disorder).
The pitfalls are sensitization , bewilderment (confusion) and fear. For Dr. Weekes, these are the three reasons why you are the way you are, and why you stay this way.
She describes sensitization as a person’s body being in an elevated state of sensitivity so that almost anything can trigger the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to things like panic attacks.
Dr. Weekes stated that this was the reason why you are jumpy, and prone to the over production of adrenaline, which ultimately causes all the nasty physical symptoms you encounter.
The second pitfall is bewilderment. She believed that because most people don’t understand the physical basis for a panic attack, or other anxiety related symptom, they become confused and “stuck in a maze.” It’s the confusion that keeps you anxious and may even worsen the condition, since it tends to rob you of hope and direction.
The last pitfall is fear. Dr. Weekes argues that after a while you’re simply afraid of your constant state of fear. This also contributes to more sensitization and confusion.
Dr. Weekes also thought of chronic anxiety as a cycle, a set pattern. A pattern that could be figured out and defeated.
Best of all, recovery from chronic anxiety according to Dr. Weekes is not rocket science. Her method of recovery is this: accept, float, and let time pass. She states over and over that if you do this you can get better.
Dr. Weekes wrote five books in total and also made several radio and T.V. appearances. Of all her works however there are two that I have relied on for peace and comfort when things got tough.
1. Hope and Help for Your Nerves . This relatively short book is her first, and it’s packed with useful information and self help tips on how to cope with your anxiety. I read this book on a regular basis to help me understand things more clearly. It is broken up into short chapters, which really makes it a great reference. She also talks about many of her patients and how anxiety manifested itself in them, and how they figured out creative ways to cope.
2. My all time favorite however is her audio CD called Pass Through Panic: Freeing Yourself from Anxiety and Fear . This CD is a an absolute life safer. To hear Dr. Weekes’s voice in times of need was really indispensable. She has a way of “cracking the whip” on you and making you realize that you are, in fact, not crazy. And, that this anxiety disorder of yours will not kill you. It comes in both CD and cassette.
I wanted to introduce Dr. Weekes to you because I had gone over ten years with anxiety disorder without ever hearing her name. She is really is a giant in this field, and her contributions to helping people that suffer from anxiety disorder really can’t be overstated.
She explains things very simply and clearly, and gives you the sense that she really understands not only anxiety disorder, or “Nervous Illness,” but your personal struggle with it. I used to keep her audio CD in my car and the book in my home.
I have gained a tremendous amount of support and hope from Dr. Weekes. Much of what I believe to be effective coping strategies I adopted from her work. I still use Dr. Weekes’ method to guide me through stressful challenging periods and I recommend you all look up and research this incredible lady.
When you get a spare 45 min watch LeDoux explain fear and anxiety here. We often use the terms ‘fear’ and ‘anxiety’ interchangeably, but we should be very careful about there proper meanings as the repercussions can be catastrophic. LeDoux has done the hard thinking for us; all we have to do is listen and absorb.
I have always believed that anything that can give you biofeedback whilst experiencing anxiety can be a very useful tool in combating it. There are so many recommendations for people who experience anxiety; breathing exercises, visualisations, mantras, TFT tapping, positive self talk etc etc. Regardless of which ‘tools’ one applies they very rarely get immediate feedback. How encouraging would it be if you discovered that after applying your breathing techniques that your heart rate dropped from 180 to 120? I think this would consolidate your self-belief in your own ability to self help and raise your confidence in doing so ten-fold. Well I have a suggestion which I think all anxiety sufferers should at least give a go…..get yourselves a heart rate monitor and begin today! They are easy to use and very cheap too!
Here is an interesting study showing some good results.
This is a fantastic article written by Michael Specter which attempts to answer the question, Can neuroscience help us rewrite our most traumatic memories? I think it would be helpful to put a partition together to help Daniela Schiller secure funding to help her continue her research and development into treatment for PTSD. A long but extremely insightful article!
I can tell you all from experience that Claire Weekes’ treatment for anxiety cure is the surest way to recovery. It is is based on four concepts:
1. Facing 2. Accepting 3. Floating 4. Letting time pass
- FACING requires the individual to acknowledge and understand that the cure comes from within. It means facing the things and situations that make us fearful as well as facing the nervous symptoms than many of us would rather avoid. According to Dr Weekes the notion of facing fearful situations but having the option of retreating if we panic or go beyond our ‘comfort zone’ does not facilitate a long-term cure. Instead, it is necessary to face fear and panic symptoms and to learn to deal with them. The long term goal is for the individual to learn to cope with panic so that it no longer matters if it does happen. An old Chinese proverb ‘Go straight to the heart of danger, for there you will find safety’ reflects this concept.
- ACCEPTING involves learning to co-exist in a kind of truce with the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic no matter how uncomfortable they can get. Fighting fear and its often terrible physical symptoms can spark more fear and thus perpetuate anxiety and panic. De-sensitisation to fear lies in acknowledging the physical symptoms and discomfort and to trying to flow with it. The aim of acceptance is to try not to fuel existing fear with more fear. Obviously this isn’t easy and requires practice. Dr Weekes states that by practicing accepting, “…you earn the little voice that says, ‘It doesn’t matter anymore if panic comes!’ this is the only voice to listen to. It is your staff, and will always come to help you in setbacks, even if you find yourself almost helpless on the floor”.
- FLOATING encapsulates the idea that instead of fighting and forcing our way past anxiety and fear it is more effective to physically and mentally take the path of least resistance and float towards, through and past the anxiety. Dr Weekes likens the sensation to floating on a cloud or water. The aim of floating appears to be to remove the rigid and exhausting physical and mental fight that panic and anxiety sufferers find themselves involved in when confronting fear thus removing another source of fear. Indeed, floating can be a very pleasant antidote to fear and panic.
- LETTING TIME PASS asks from us an understanding that recovery can take time. It takes time for a nervously sensitised physical body to heal and for the heightened memory of fear and panic to gradually extinguish. We live in a society that fosters an expectation that life can be instant and fast, and these concepts can be counterproductive to a recovery that requires time. Dr Weekes counsels that setbacks on the road to recovery should not create dismay, but instead be expected and accepted. Setbacks provide us with an opportunity to build and forge our recovery on repeated practice and experience so that the techniques become truly ingrained in us.
Good luck on your quests to recovery!
So as we approach the end of yet another year I’d like to wish you all a more happy and peaceful 2016. You know its never too late to bring about change and one should never think that they will never recover, no matter how long you have been ill! I have helped people who have suffered with anxiety and depression for the best part of there lives. It is never too late. The only difference between someone who has been ill for a week and someone who has been ill for forty years is that the person who has suffered longer has had more time to build up more memories of suffering, that is all. As I bid you all farewell to 2015 I would like to remind you of some famous people who have been affected by anxiety and panic attacks. I always think its quite nice to know that some of the people we see on our television screens have struggled and still struggle with anxiety. So from me all the very best!
Merry Christmas everybody! I wish everybody a more peaceful 2016 and remember it’s never too late to learn the tools needed to recover from anxiety disorder. As I always say, understanding is key in recovery, without the right understanding you can so easily keep going round in circles (as I did!)….for understanding and a full programme of recovery contact me to book some new year sessions. Wish you all the very best!