Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekend Treatment Groups

Reid Wilson is getting ready to hold a few weekend treatment groups for people with panic disorder and OCD. Check out his website and get ready for a life changing weekend! You can read about my experience here.

If you live in the Chicago area, Dave Carbonell is also holding a 10 week panic attacks treatment group this coming Fall 2011.

Has anyone else attended either of these groups? If yes, what did you think? Does anyone have other resources they'd like to share?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anxiety Humor

Hi there! It's been a while, but I found something I had to share. Dave Carbonell has started a new page on his website called "Anxiety Humor" and it's fantastic. I've been known to sing my worries while driving or anticipating some panic provoking situation, so this is right up my alley. Imagine the difference in your practice sessions if you're breaking out in silly songs, perhaps loudly with the windows down? Anxiety messing with you in the work place or social settings? Why not sing these ditties in your head - no one will be the wiser.

I'd love to hear how it goes or if you have humor techniques that are already part of your repertoire!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is anxiety a mental illness?

At the end of August, a professor from the University of Arizona contacted me about submitting a "first person account" of anxiety for a new text book he and his colleagues are writing. They've received a number of submissions from people dealing with various forms of mental malaise. I'm getting ready to submit my story, but am still hung up on the books title "First Person Accounts of Mental Illness". It just feels like there's a big difference between an anxiety disorder and, say, paranoid schizophrenia with delusions. My Dad, a clinical psychologist, used to say that anxiety and depression were the common colds of mental health. I tend to agree.

The professor said that he was open to alternate titles for this text. Any ideas? What do you think? Is anxiety a mental illness? And, if not, is there a better description for what we experience?

Hope everyone is enjoying this amazing fall weather!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Exercise and Anxiety

I've got to tell you, I've been really noticing the positive effects of exercise on my mood and energy level these past few months. I'm not knocking yoga or a good power walk, but it's the days where I get some good cardio in and really sweat that seem to make the biggest difference. This is not new information in the world of anxiety and health, but it's interesting how difficult it is to prioritize self care.

Between taking care of three children and getting a second wind around 10pm, I can find lots of reasons to turn my alarm off at 6am. Frequently my husband and I will say to each other, "Ok, this is the week we're going to bed by 10:30pm and getting up early!" Signing up for a couple triathlons this summer certainly helped get me up in the morning, but my motivation can dwindle when race season is complete and daylight grows shorter. When I'm tired and not exercising, the world seems more overwhelming and my wheels spin.

This week, I've made a new pact with my husband to go to bed by 11pm-ish and I've gotten up the past five mornings to exercise. Depending on how much time I have, I'm doing a mix of running a faster 2-3 miles (a 10 minute mile is speedy for me); a favorite 20 minute video; swimming; and biking with a friend on the weekends. Even a little dance break in the day can help my body and brain play nice.

What's changed? I had to sit myself down during the daytime hours and say, "Look, girl, this is good for you & it makes you feel so much better! You are not going to find time to exercise after 7am. Now get your butt to bed! Whatever still needs doing can wait until tomorrow!" Again, while exercise and enough sleep does not make anxiety go away for me, it helps make it more manageable by using up some of that super-power adrenaline and starting each day with a more rested brain.

Will I be singing a different tune, next week? Perhaps, but accountability is a good motivator, too! What effect does enough sleep and exercise have on your mental health and outlook? What's working for you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

This too shall pass

Ok, so no one could ever accuse me of being current with all things hip. I understand that this video was "everywhere" in January, even though it came into my universe this morning. My husband couldn't believe I had never seen it and pulled it up on YouTube. When we should have been finishing the kids lunches and getting shoes on, the five of us watched and danced a little before heading off to work, school and the playground. Everyone lovingly rolled their eyes when they realized that the end of this song brought tears to my eyes. I'm not sure why - maybe it was the big band finish (I was in the high school marching band), the fabulous creativity or the fact that music bypasses my brain and goes straight to emotion for me.

I love the message of "this too shall pass - let it go" and thought it fitting to share in this space. This phrase reminds me to be ever present and move slowly through all of life's moments. We can find comfort in the fact that emotional turbulence will not last forever. And, an equally, if not more, important message is to wake up to the joy and beauty in our every day lives, because those moments pass, as well. We don't have to feel calm or "together" to be awake to our lives, we only have to show up.

What moments have you been awake to today - what beauty have you seen?

Hugging my girls, looking into their eyes and telling them that I love them; laughing with my handsome husband this morning; holding my 3 year old's soft, tiny hand; watching clouds roll through the breezy sky; taking time to listen to the sounds of outdoors and feel the crisp morning air; making home made pizza dough at my child's pace as she stirred the flour up to her elbows and snitched dough; children racing through the grass to see brilliant green caterpillars at our school garden; listening to a foreign language being spoken; people connecting and reaching out to one another; etc.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mind Traps

"When you go beyond seeing words as words, you're buying into the illusion your mind creates. The thoughts shift from being thoughts to being something dangerously serious. And when that happens, you'll often find yourself trapped in old behavior patterns that are neither helpful nor in your best interest. We call this a mind trap." (pg. 70)

Come again? The idea of a mind trap is actually pretty simple and people (with or without anxiety) do it all the time. Mind traps occur when we make up stories in our heads and respond as if those thoughts are true. If we've imagined something scary, our bodies begin making lots of adrenaline and our physical symptoms kick in, followed by more scary thoughts. Of course, this is a great recipe for a panic attack and, over time, it simply becomes habit.

I remember a few years back, my husband took our older girls to a festival. When I couldn't reach him by phone, I started to imagine that one of the kids got lost and he wasn't answering until he found her. I imagined her lost in the crowd and crying for us - it was horrible. Even though I knew this scenario was highly unlikely, I found myself believing my imagination and feeling more and more anxious until I was able to reach my husband. The reality was that they were having so much fun that he didn't hear the phone and everyone came home happy.

I so identified with Brene Brown's video when she asked the audience "what happens next?" My brain runs disastrous headlines on a daily basis. Sometimes I shrug them off and other times I get a little wave of adrenaline. What if it's a sign?

Leaving the pool with my three year old while hubby and the girls stay behind.

"Little did they know that would be the last time anyone saw them alive".

The phone rings before 8am in the morning.

"And that's when she first heard that (insert name) had passed away during the night".

Even though it doesn't feel like it, we do have a choice in how we respond to thoughts like:

What if?

It would be terrible if . . .

I'm going to have a panic attack and then . . .(this terrible thing will happen). . .

"One of the most courageous things you can do when your WAF's (worries, anxieties and fears) show up is to sit still with them and not do as they say." (pg. 76)

This week, I invite you to just notice when your mind starts to set a trap for you. See if you can simply watch the thought without having to respond to it. There's an exercise on page 76 in our summer book called "Mind Watching" - it's a good one. And, if you're not reading the book, try sitting with some basic meditation every day for as long as you like. I'm going to aim for 5 - 10 minutes a day and see how it goes!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home again

I'm just getting settled back in after being away for two weeks. My Mom and Step-Dad live by the water and we had the chance to house sit for them while they adventured off to Alaska. It was so nice to be away and long enough that I was excited as we drove back into our cozy, little neighborhood this past weekend. One of these days, we'll have enough money to fly our family of five somewhere exotic, but for now, house sitting in a beautiful location was just what we all needed.

As I was getting our kitchen back in order the other night, I found myself needing to take frequent breaks and pop into some favorite blogs. (Speaking of distraction - this is fabulous ice cream and you can sub 1 tsp vanilla extract for the vanilla bean.) I also found this wonderful video by Brene Brown. I was so touched by her talk and am still processing what she had to say. Enjoy and I'd love to hear what you think.

Watch live streaming video from tedxkc at livestream.com

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