I was honored to interview Jon Mercer, creator of the EasyCalm Anxiety and Panic Attack Video Coaching Series. He had a lot to say about dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, and a few harsh words for the pharmaceutical industry too! Read on..
Jill- Jon Mercer, hi! My readers are very excited for me to speak to you today. I’m pretty excited myself! At PanicFreeMe.com, we’ve been carefully reviewing the best panic attack treatment programs available, so of course we were eager to look at EasyCalm.
Jon- Thank you Jill, it’s a pleasure to talk to you.
Jill- You developed the EasyCalm anxiety video series for anxiety sufferers, and you’ve been helping folks like me and my readers since 2005. Thank you for that.
Jon- I’m glad to be able to help. It’s been just over 5 years since EasyCalm took off online and I don’t think anyone expected it would become as popular as it has, least of all me! I get emails from EasyCalm users in places like Cambodia, Sri Lanka, even one researcher at the South Pole! It’s a bit surreal sometimes.
Jill- I imagine! About your background: you’re a Personal Development Coach with a Masters Degree, and as I understand it, you’re an ex-anxiety sufferer too. Can you share a bit about your struggles with anxiety and panic attacks?
Jon- I started having anxiety and social anxiety problems around puberty. Later in my teens, I began having panic attacks while driving and in some social situations, along with almost daily generalized anxiety. One of my worst symptoms was breathing problems — I felt that I couldn’t get a deep breath.
I had all the medical tests, but the docs said I was perfectly healthy. I had no idea what was going on, and it seemed no one else did either. So I mostly just hid the anxiety from everybody, even my family; and that’s one of the WORST things you can do. It really does start to wear you down both mentally and physically.
Jill- The present time is often described as the ‘age of anxiety’. Why do you think anxiety is such a huge problem in our society today?
Jon- Um, that’s a big philosophical question Jill! I thought this was gonna be a softball interview. haha. But seriously, I think as a society we’ve got some really bad habits these days. And some of those habits make people more likely to have anxiety and panic attacks. I know it probably sounds like a cliche, but the constant stream of unsettling information and unresolved conflict on television and the media is absolutely contributing to greater anxiety in my opinion. Some of my clients improve 30-40% just by turning off the TV and news for a few weeks. That says a lot.
Jill- I have to say, the fact that you’ve ‘been there, done that’ is what I appreciate most about your coaching style. Your teaching is so authentic, and that is refreshing for people who struggle with anxiety.
Jon- Thank you. I try to keep the coaching low key and ‘real’, so there’s no big production. Just a goofy looking guy talking to a camera–haha! In my experience, coaching works best in a very casual environment and I always try to draw on my own experience to explain subjects and gently steer the client in the right direction.
Jill- You have said that EasyCalm is at heart a very simple program. Why do you think many anxiety sufferers overcomplicate things when it comes to getting better?
Jon- I think it’s because anxiety seems like such a huge, complicated problem. So naturally, we think it should take a huge, complicated solution to get over it. The reality is, it’s a pretty straight forward process. Problems are complicated–but happiness is always pretty simple.
Jill- That makes sense. I personally struggled with social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, AND panic disorder for over 20 years. It’s only been a few years that I have been cured, and it is entirely due to teachings just like yours, Jon.
Medical doctors had me drugged out of my mind on prescription medications and I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on therapists and psychiatrists. Traditional medicine made everything worse, in my opinion. What do you have to say about that?
Jon- That sounds a lot like my story, and unfortunately I hear stories like this nearly every day. I’m a harsh critic of the pharmaceutical industry. I was also drugged up with SSRI’s and Benzos. Trusting in those medications and the doctors who prescribed them led to a lot of pain for me–not to mention horrible side effects and a protracted withdrawal from Ativan that nearly killed me. People think that’s exaggeration, but recovering from benzo dependency was the single hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. What’s amazing is, I was only on the drug for 3 months!
With EasyCalm, I set out to offer anxiety sufferers a real alternative to these drugs. And as you might expect, the drug companies aren’t very happy about that. Their legal teams have contacted me on several occasions warning against comments made in some of my anti-drug rants online. So far, they haven’t stopped me though.
Jill- No, I see that they haven’t. So do you believe EasyCalm works for all types of anxiety?
Jon- I’ve been misquoted a few times in interviews as saying that ALL anxiety is emotionally based and can be eliminated using the EasyCalm techniques. The truth is I believe about 95% of all anxiety issues are emotionally-based, not physical and can be remedied using our method. There are physical illnesses that can cause problems with the amygdale in the limbic system and lead to anxiety and panic. Thyroid conditions being one possibility. But in my experience these are the exception to the rule, and they’re actually pretty rare. I always encourage anxiety sufferers to get examined by their doctor though, for their own peace of mind.
Jill- Before we go, is there any advice can you give to anxiety sufferers who are desperate for some relief, but not willing or able to pay the $200 or more most psychiatrists charge for a single consultation?
Jon- It may sound self serving, but I honestly recommend they try the EasyCalm method first before considering more expensive and complicated options. Unlike Psychologists or other health care professionals, we offer a no-questions-asked refund policy so there’s no risk in trying the program. And it’s a testament to how well these techniques work that even with our open door policy, our refund rate has remained incredibly low over the last five years.
Jill- Well this was a real pleasure, Jon! Thank you for your time today and for the opportunity to review EasyCalm. It’s a terrific program and you are indeed the real deal. Thank you for all the great work you do to help anxiety sufferers everywhere!
Jon- Pleasure was all mine Jill. And thanks for the great work you’re doing online to help anxiety sufferers.
I wish you peace,
ps.– what a nice guy