“AT MY WORST, I WAS REGULARLY THINKING OF SUICIDE/SELF HARM”
Over the years, my fears prevented me from experiencing all that life had to offer. I never lived up to my potential because I was too afraid to push myself beyond what was comfortable. I avoided going to college, and moved from one unfulfilling job to another. In my early twenties I began drinking heavily to numb the fear and disappointment. At that time in my life I had no idea what anxiety disorder was. I thought people who complained about panic attacks where exaggerating or simply looking for attention.
Things came to a head at the age of 23 when my lifelong pattern of generalized anxiety became a panic disorder. I began suffering from powerful; frequent panic attacks which were accompanied by depersonalization/derealization, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, hypochondria, agoraphobia, mood swings, strange violent/sexual thoughts, and powerful depression.
At my worst, I was regularly thinking of suicide/self harm, and I was convinced that I had been possessed by a demon who had been sent to torture me. I even became afraid to be around my wife (the love of my life since the age of 17)! I felt unexplainable fear, around her and it killed me to feel that our connection had been lost. She stood by me through it all, even as my limitations became her own. I dragged her into my small life consisting of daily excessive drinking, overeating, and sitting around the apartment. We rarely did anything other than drink, play video games, or binge watch TV.
My friends were forced to endure my constant complaining and negativity. I spoke incessantly about the way I felt and how hopeless it all seemed. There were even nights where they were forced to comfort me, as a drunkenly sobbed about how I couldn’t take it anymore and just wanted to end it all.
When my anxiety disorder began, I missed weeks of work. I had no idea what was happening to me and associated my symptoms with food. Because of that confusion, I mostly stopped eating and lost a lot of weight, very suddenly. My mother became concerned and took me to the doctor, where they quickly diagnosed me with high anxiety and panic disorder. Thus began a long relationship with mood altering medications.
At first they started me on daily doses of Xanax. I took a dose every morning to help get me out of the apartment. It provided some relief, but I was miserable in between doses. I was constantly on edge, wondering when my next panic attack would strike. I felt weak relying on pills to overcome my fear, and I thought of suicide regularly. After months of this, a new doctor prescribed me Zoloft. This new medication helped much more, but I still felt the need to drink daily, just to feel normal. I also started eating far too much junk food which, coupled with the excessive alcohol consumption, led to me gaining a lot of weight very quickly.
After a couple of years, the doctors were concerned about my high resting heart rate (100BPM) and high blood pressure. They decided to put me on beta-blockers and ace inhibitors to control my heart rate. That put the prescription count up to 4 at once. I had trouble keeping it all straight and I hated relying on pills to manage my symptoms. I was frustrated that while I took 3-4 pills a day, I still felt awful and was still experiencing frequent anxiety attacks/symptoms. I wanted to stop, but I believed that while things were bad on medication, they would be much worse without it.
I saw a councilor for a short time, but they only made things worse by feeding into my fears and convincing me that my digestive problems were due to some non-existent bacterial infection or unseen rare affliction. I know they were simply trying to be supportive, but they were uneducated about anxiety disorder, and how to treat it effectively.
Age 28 was my lowest point. I was experiencing stronger panic attacks, Zoloft had become ineffective, and I was drinking more than ever (about 10-12 drinks a night). I dreaded going to work. I went to the doctor feeling helpless, and their response was to double my dosage. I hit a breaking point. Something had to change. That was when I found it.
“FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE WHOLE TERRIBLE BUSINESS BEGAN, I FELT HOPE”
I don’t really remember how I had come across it, but I remember exactly where I was when I did. It had been really tough day at work, and I was feeling depleted. I made a drink and went to our computer to search for something ANYTHING to make it all better.
Then there he was. Charles Linden. I found a video (the one where he is sitting outside in the white T-shirt and jeans), and in a few short minutes, he changed everything I thought I knew about myself and my condition. Something changed in me. I can’t tell you how it incredible it was to hear every dark and frightening thing I had been experiencing spoken aloud by another person. For the first time since the whole terrible business began, I felt hope. That night I ordered the in home learning program, and it was the best decision I ever made.
“When our first daughter was born, we saw it only fit to name her Flora Linden as a way of saying “thank you” to Charles and Beth”
Upon receiving the program in the mail, I worked to implement TLM in my daily life. I was astounded by how quickly I began to recover. Combining knowledge about how anxiety works with a structured approach to recovery led to powerful results!
Within 2 months I was medication free, and as the drugs left my system, I felt my whole being start to wake up. Fear was being replaced with curiosity and ambition. I began to feel that I was capable of offering more to the world and my loved ones. I realized that I had a strong desire to quit drinking and convinced my wife to do the same. Not long after that we stopped drinking completely, quit smoking, went on a juice fast and ended up adopting a vegan diet (a very stark contrast to the way we had been eating our whole lives!). I also took a new job, and for the first time in our adult lives the wife and I didn’t work in the same building.
As our bodies recovered from years of abuse, we felt far more energetic and fell head over heels in love with distance running. We completed both our first 5K and a full marathon in the same year!
My newfound curiosity led me back to school where I studied wind turbine operations and maintenance. While it did not lead to a career, it was a wonderfully enlightening experience. I also found my spiritual path in Zen Buddhism. I was ordained as a lay practitioner in November of 2015.
While I am proud of my achievements since recovering from anxiety, all of them pale in comparison to my greatest accomplishment. Becoming a father. In our younger years we swore we would never have kids. We wanted to live a life free of responsibilities and the thought of raisingchildren was simply too overwhelming.
That all changed around the time I completed trade college. Something shifted in us and we decided that it was time. When our first daughter was born, we saw it only fit to name her Flora Linden as a way of saying “thank you” to Charles and Beth. Without them, we would have never had the courage to start a family. We now have two beautiful girls. Flora and Luna make our lives so wonderfully rich and enjoyable.
I would also not have had the courage to follow my dreams, as I am now. After 3 years of taking photography clients on the side, I am building my photo studio on our property, and will be starting my life as a full time professional photographer. I can’t believe that just a few short years ago I was so afraid of new people and now I float around a wedding full of strangers with ease and command large groups for family photos. I love it all!
When I was approached about The Linden Method’s Ambassador program, I jumped at the opportunity!
It kills me to think that so many people still suffer from needless high anxiety and while I never pass up an opportunity to tell people about TLM, if I feel they would benefit from it, I am thrilled to have this larger platform with which to share my story.
I hope that other sufferers may know that they are not alone and there is HOPE. I wish you all the best life has to offer, and a speedy recovery!
Hi, my name is Beth, I am director of Linden Tree Education.
You will receive unlimited, qualified support from amazing Recovery Specialists when you start the courses.
If you wish to receive guidance or support, please contact the support team through the TLM Members Portal
If you wish to book a course, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Beth is director of Linden Recovery and course director of the Anxiety Recovery Retreat programmes.
Linden Tree Edu.