Vice recently talked to an expert in anxiety, who managed to change the way many people think of their anxiety. As a person living with anxiety myself, I found the article and the book that this person wrote extremely helpful. I’m writing this article with the hope that it can do the same for you.
As a typical person with anxiety, I prefer staying at home alone than going out, no matter how important the person is. Anxiety coach Barry McDonagh knows what I’m talking about.
I discovered Barry’s book in a period of my life where there was nothing could help me and when I had panic attacks every week. At the time, I believed that there is nothing that can help me escape this condition of mine. The thing that intrigued me about this book is the fact that Barry was himself dealing with anxiety, as well. His writing and point of view were really interesting to me.
Today, Barry is famous in the anxiety world. Back then, his book was just a document written in Microsoft Word with a cover page of him skydiving.
Vice talked to him about his book and about the condition.
McDonagh revealed that it all started when he was 18 years old on the day he was celebrating his final exams. Going through a hangover, strange feelings overcame his mind, followed by strong pounding of his harder which only accelerated.
McDonagh though he was experiencing a heart attack. Luckily, he didn’t. He spends a week not leaving his home afterward, not telling anything to anyone. What he experienced McDonagh then was the start of his anxiety.
He had several panic attacks after that first one. This changed his life completely, making him a person who is afraid to leave his home. This was dramatic change since he considered himself a free man before this experience. His ambitions to travel the world and have many different experiences fell through. He went through depression because of this. He thought the struggle would never end. But it did.
The end of the struggle happened as suddenly as it came, McDonagh explained. Lying on the floor and wishing for his anxiety to go away, he felt something suddenly changed. He started to see how wrong he was fighting his condition. He realized that he was only feeding his anxiety with all his negative and panic thoughts. He went from thinking anxiously into thinking boldly and bravely every time he was under panic attack.
From that moment on, the fear that was keeping McDonagh trapped in his condition was destroyed. He felt he was winning his freedom back. Afterwards, he knew that he wanted to share all the things that helped him with the others who were also dealing with anxiety.
As he says, although he is not a professional, he believes his point of view can help many people. So he reached these people via the Internet.
In the book and in the interview, McDonagh reveals that the fear didn’t go away instantly. Instead, it stayed with him for a while after the turning point. That uncomfortable feeling of anxiety was still present, but he reveals that it didn’t feel like his life was in jeopardy. He constantly trained his brain to deal with it.
“When you no longer react with fear to this discomfort you strip the fear away from the sensations you feel and that helps you exit the anxiety loop your mind has created”, he said in the interview.
The fear that we feel, which is caused by anxiety, is only in our mind and we have to realize this. Moreover, we need to constantly repeat this to ourselves in order to fight it. We are free to do whatever we want to do and that’s the only truth that matters.
On the question about experiencing anxiety today, McDonagh admitted that he still does. He revealed that he worries like every normal person because stress is part of life. The good thing is that he no longer has panic attacks, although sometimes the symptoms worsen such as when he has too much coffee. However, he considers this as unpleasant feeling that everyone has and nothing more.
Read Panic Away to learn more about McDonagh’s technique.