Hi everyone, as promised, here it is. If you find it useful or even inspiring please drop me a line so I know my time wasn't in vein. If it helps just ONE person, I have achieved what I want
Anxiety Guide by Dr.Waz
This guide based upon the following:
- My personal struggles with anxiety and OCD for 12+ years
- A lot of reflection and reading, including 300 pages of personal writing and isolation meditation
- Patients I help treat
I have included a lot of personal information in this guide to help you and maybe even inspire you. I have also included parts of my personal writing as I passed through the 3 phases below to outline the struggle I was going through. I hope you find it useful.
Who I am
My name is Dr Waz and I live in New Zealand with my wife and 2 boys. Anxiety has been a daily part of my life for the past 12+ years and it has taken me that long to figure out everything I have written in this guide. I work in accident and emergency medicine and studied at the university of otago completing a MBChB after doing a BSc. I see people with anxiety everywhere around me now and I am in a position to help them, which is an honor. My thanks to the universe for allowing this to be.
For those who would feel reassurance from seeing my credentials, PM me.
My anxiety has taken many forms: generalized, social and OCD.
My problems started in late secondary school. As with others I was care free and enjoyed life. Then the OCD started to kick in. It was mild. However, by the start of Uni it was full blown. I was doubting everything I read, I had to triple quadriple check everything, I remember sitting in the bus one day and starring at the ticket to confirm the bus number I was on the whole way back home, over and over again. Nothing "felt right". I became more and more isolated...
Then the anxiety started, initially mild then worse and worse. You name it, I had it:
- intrusive negative thoughts about harming others
- day long self criticism to the point where dying WAS better than living
- low self esteem
- VERY poor concentration - I recall sitting in front of a book for hours on end and barely being able to read a page
- irrational thinking and analysis of myself and others
- being "on edge" 24/7
- avoiding all forms of socializing and feeling left out and not fitting in all the time, super anxious dealing with others
- super high stress levels where my face would break out in pimples all year long, no treatment from my Dr worked
- derealization - feeling I wasnt living in the world I saw, I was removed somehow
= DEBILITATING AND GOING CRAAAZY
This is a sample of my struggles after things started improving a bit (I unfortunately didnt have the habit of writing when things were at their worst)
I felt like my mind was infected with a virus which kept it busy with itself all day long. There was no more joy in life...
My anxiety worsened after completing my 2nd year of medical school and by the 3rd year, I was in pieces. My grades hit rock bottom, I started failing, I had no social life and help was needed. I began seeing a psychologist and fought so hard to be better, there were so many tears, so many sleepless nights, so much anger, so much suffering. I never want to see those days again. It was from there that the improvement slowly made it way towards me. I was still a mess. Through shear force, total commitment and plenty of reflection, I managed to make it through medical school somehow, I am still not sure how that happened.
Then work began, and boom, another dip back down to rock bottom. This time my work suffered, I made mistakes, I was unable to get work done, I got anxious around my patients and colleagues, I ended up staying super late everyday. And along with this came the criticism and deadlines. NO ONE ASKED ME WHY, NO ONE TRIED TO UNDERSTAND, MY GP WAS APATHETIC, it seemed I was all alone!
I came within a breath away from LOOSING MY CAREER! I'd had it, no more.
I set up a gardening company to quit being a doctor
I applied for other jobs
I sent in my CV
But my wife made it see it through. I pushed through it day by day. It was difficult, it was painful, there were a LOT of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of bad sleep...
And here I am on the other side, happy, a doctor, a weightlifter, father of 2 young boys living a life where anxiety is no longer the center, for once in my life, I AM FREE. I have just completed a 1000 pound challenge lifting a total of 470kg over bench (110kg) / deadlift (210kg) / squat (160kg) (with videos to prove!)
Here is my deadlift to prove it! (note this was after benching and squatting so was quite tired!
I am writing this to help you overcome anxiety like I have. But don’t suffer 12 years like I did.
I wish someone could have told me what I am about to tell you.
Phase 1 - The struggle
Phase 2 - Empowerment
Phase 3 - Recovery
Phase 1 – The struggle
- Period of managing with anxiety
- Difficulty and disability
- Breakdown and help
This phase is the start of your anxiety. You will remember it, that first sensation, that first panic attack, that first night, that first situation. You will have had a period where your anxiety was manageable and you lived with it. However, slowly and slowly things started taking a path for the worse and worse. You slowly started loose self esteem, you slowly become more isolated, you had no idea why this was happening to you and only you…
2. Difficulty and disability
Now your life is filled with anxiety. It limits you. It is like a disease. Difficulty in the normal activities of the day grow and grow. Your routine meetings at work turn into difficult experiences. Your normal school classes turn into stressful challenges. You are turning from a “normal” person to this “crazy thing”. Now it is more than just difficulty, there are things you are not able to do anymore! Forget going out and socializing, forget driving in traffic, forget being care free , forget razor sharp memory. Now it is like a disability that you carry everywhere you go. It is stuck to you, it is part of you. You feel so frustrated, angry and sad all at the same time. You feel like you are going CRAZY! That there must be something wrong with you. “What if I have a brain tumour?” “What if I have a dangerous hormone problem?”. And the anxiety causes you MORE isolation and this in turns puts you more behind and distracts you which makes you even MORE anxious and it goes on and on…
3. Breakdown and help
For many people the disability grows and grows to such an extent that you reach a breaking point, the all-time low, where tears flow without your control. Your avoidance of situations grows, the frequency of anxiety increases until it feels like it is 24/7, you feel like you are trapped with a CRAZY mind. You are sure there is something wrong with you. Everyone else seems ok except you!
You cannot go on like this no more. Here, dying feels easier than living. You have a friend who committed suicide and you feel that somehow they are lucky they do not go through what you do. Life right here sucks. And yes this is rock bottom.
When you are here, you MUST ask for help. Sometimes things are too complicated for us to work out on our own. Just talking to someone about it relieves the pressure and puts a bit of sense in what you are going through. This is not weakness, this is strength.
But remember, sometimes passing through such a phase is exactly what you need to bring you back stronger than ever before! If there was a stage I do not regret being in it was this. Sure it sucked but you come out much more resilient and stronger as a result.
If you are at this phase, please remember that you are not alone, we care about you and we want you to seek help.
This phase will not cure you, it will simply give you a taste of what bad feels like and helps you move out of the hole and onto the next stage in due time...