Jason Ellis is our featured anxiety success story for today. He writes an amazingly helpful blog that helps teach you to stop anxiety and feel good naturally: http://www.stop-anxiety-panic-attack.com.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your struggle with anxiety?
I grew up in just about the sweetest, care-free home in Long Island, NY you could ever imagine. With an older sister to look up to and parents that were as loving as could be, my childhood couldn’t have been more cushy.
That’s what always troubled me in hindsight. Why is it that despite being raised in a warm, safe environment, I was constantly plagued with extreme shyness and hypersensitivity?
Why did I always have relentless anxiety about the future? – even as a young kiddo without a single responsibility to bring me down?
I remember, distinctly, my elementary school teachers teasing me that I was a worry wart. Even at the young age of 12, the pressures I felt in my sixth grade environment were blown way out of proportion. Taking tests and fitting in with my peers were huge anxiety triggers that drove me to tears at times.
Some of it, I suppose, was normal tween type peer pressure but even then, I knew I was more inclined to stress than those around me. My parents were terrific though – the whole way through. They always encouraged me to share my insecurities and talk it out. I learned from the get go that uncorking feelings of stress was a quick fix to releasing the tension built up by anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, throughout my life I have had many many wonderful moments, memories and a constant stream of laughter. But – underlying anxiety was always something I’ve dealt with in ebbs and flows.
As I progressed into High School, I was a relatively “normal” teen. I’ve always had a small group of friends and never isolated myself from others. However, inside, I felt much different from my peers.
Being around friends was a battle with social awkwardness. I over-thought my surroundings quite a bit. This led to a nervousness that was hard to hide. I started biting my nails (a habit which I still struggle with).
College was the peak of my anxiety. At 19, my social awkwardness and paranoia made conversation difficult with fitting in. I still had a group of friends, but among them I felt distant and alone in some ways.
As I carried on through the years and my adult life took form through career, marriage and children, I gained confidence. Seeing my dreams take form provided the realization that I do have some control in this world (we all do) and the consciousness that we create has a direct effect on the fruition of our ambitions.
Anxiety, however, is a part of my natural tendency and if I didn’t work hard to stay on top of my perspective, keeping it positive, that negativity and worry would definitely creep back into my daily thinking.
For this reason, I created the website. It’s a way to constantly exercise my train of thought while at the same time, educate others who have yet to discover the subtle power of managing your mindset.
In my 32 years working through bouts of panic and anxiety, I’ve accumulated an arsenal of techniques that I pull out from time to time to calm my busy brain and find sanctuary within.
What things did you try that didn’t work?
Medication was never a winner for me. In college I tried Paxil for a stint of time and it only amplified my emotions. That said, I know there are a very wide array of medications on the market today so I’m not saying medication doesn’t work for anyone. And, yes, you do sometimes need to experiment with a variety until you find the one that suits you.
For me though, I wanted a sustainable solution to my anxiety that wasn’t reliant on anything other than my rationalization. I’m definitely a type A personality, so thinking out my anxiety fits the problem-solving side of my personality.
What helped you the most?
Although I do teach many psychological exercises you can actually practice on my website, the most helpful thing for my anxiety has been the understanding of specific concepts. To name just a few, understanding the principles of Gratitude, Forgiveness and Acceptance have completely transformed my ability to live life to the fullest.
These concepts are based on philosophies of living that are far too grand to sum up in a few paragraphs so I apologize if my answer is vague. However, I can make an analogy as to how these concepts have specifically helped me.
There’s a saying I like to use on my site that goes as follows. “In life, you can’t always control what happens to you. However, you CAN always control how you react to what happens to you.”
The concepts of Gratitude, Forgiveness and Acceptance are kind of like the Kung Fu you can use to defend against attacking anxiety.
When anxiety hits, you may fall into a natural rhythm of reaction. These concepts break that rhythm and put you in the habit of redirecting your thoughts towards a more positive perspective.
What made you decide to start blogging about anxiety? Has it helped you?
As I was saying earlier, the site is a way to constantly reinforce the positive that exists around me while at the same time, teaching others through my own experience. A cornerstone to treating anxiety is letting out your emotions in any form that allows you to examine them objectively. The site is my own form of therapy. The fact that it helps others just makes it that much more rewarding.
The site has helped me, personally in many ways. By writing out all my own neurosis and then addressing solutions to the dilemmas one by one, I’m engaging in a major anxiety fighting activity…
You see, when you stand back from your anxiety, you’ll see how oftentimes it is irrational and even when it is not irrational, it can be mitigated through an abundant supply of therapies.
Much like how writing down information helps you memorize it better, writing down the solutions to common anxiety conditions helps me absorb them into habitual practice.
There’s a therapy for every personality type out there. By doing the homework for my readers, I save them boatloads of time by presenting the most fitting solution for their specific concerns.
What have you learned about anxiety that you can share?
I’ve learned that anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Anxiety can come from a good place sometimes. Anxiety can transform you into a more empathetic person.
My anxiety has led me to love more and appreciate more – for that I have no regrets.
What is your best advice for someone who is suffering from panic attacks and doesn’t know where to turn?
Sites like mine and Jill’s are a great place to start. You have the comfort of anonymity and the empathy of an audience that has been in your shoes. I do always recommend therapy if you feel you are a danger to yourself. And if you’re not a danger to yourself, I would still say therapy is a great option but certainly not mandatory.
Not matter what solution you turn to, there is one fundamental rule everyone will abide to (like it or not). The resolution of anxiety must come from within. There’s no pill, therapist or website that can do it for you on its own. Unfortunately, coming to that resolution can be painful, challenging and take time. You’ve go to put in the work to reap the results.
That said, what is waiting for you on the other side is a life without the limits of your own disbelief. Take action and learn to love yourself along the way. You can do it – the freedom is already within you.
-Thank you, Jason and congratulations on your success!