Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I am in the process of transitioning to a new domain. I've decided to buy my own domain and hosting for Misdirected Anxiety and will be working diligently to get it set up over the next few days.

I will still keep this blog alive as well.

Stay tuned! Thanks for your support!



www.misdirectedanxiety.com is now alive and kicking! Please check it out!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How "A Life Less Anxious" Truly Changed My Life!!

It has now been a full 2 years since my last panic attack! Whether you have been following me all along or just today stumbled upon my blog, I want to say "thank you!" The large outpouring of support I have received since first engaging and becoming involved with the mental health community online has really helped me. My readers have kept me going and I seek to now offer support to others. I know how terrifying it can be to be in the grips of panic attacks and generalized anxiety. It's a scary place and it can be a lonely place.

 Now, I want to share with my readers something that I consider to be the first key to surviving and defeating my panic attacks. I have read tons of books and ebooks, listened to countless audio programs, watched many videos, even taken some medications and I've seen doctors. I have tried a lot of things over the years to help me rid myself of panic attacks. It was A Life Less Anxious by Steve Pavilanis that truly changed me, turned the tides for me, and helped me to get my life back.

One of the coolest things about this program is that it does not have the "clinical" feel of having been written by a doctor or phsychologist. That's because it wasn't. Steve Pavilanis is a regular guy with a regular problem- crippling anxiety and panic attacks. Anxiety and panic can definitely cause a lonely feeling. It often seems as if others just don't get it. Starting off reading this book, I had a lot of "this could have been written by me" moments. A lot of the experiences and thoughts that he relates to his battles with panic attacks were so similar to my own. This made me feel a lot less alone and gave me some confidence back as I progressed deeper into the program. I read this book almost religiously every night and had trouble putting it down. (This also helped calm some of the anxious feelings I often felt as I was trying to go to sleep).  

"Now, it's great and all that he's a cool guy, but does he know what he's talking about?" Yes! That's the best part, the author is extremely intelligent and does a fantastic job of tying those real-world experiences in with practical applications that make a difference. I don't know where I'd be if I had not read A Life Less Anxious.

I can truly say that it changed my life. I owe a lot of my success that I now celebrate to this program. I still use a lot of the fundamental teachings of A Life Less Anxious on a regular basis today. I strongly urge anyone who is fighting the fight with anxiety and panic attacks to try A Life Less Anxious!  You can take your life back today and start living again!

Thank you again for following and I wish you the best of success!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Youth Suicide Statistics

  • Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2010 CDC WISQARS)
  • Suicide is the THIRD leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18. (2010 CDC WISQARS)
More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED 

This is epically sad to me. I know the pain and despair that would make someone want to end it all. Now I know for sure that there are many others who have experienced far worse than anything than anything that I could even imagine. I won't try to diminish these experiences or the effects that they may have on the human being.

I will say, that while I may have never experienced the load of pain and sadness that can be inflicted by those cruel beings known as man, I have seen sadness and depression. I have seen the bottom of the World and that has allowed me to see the top. You can let these negative experiences own you, you can own them, or you can simply step aside and disown all of it. Letting those experiences own you is to fall into a depressive state, to lose sight of the world and to let those who may have done you wrong get the best of you. To own those experiences is to simply accept them, realize that an event cannot "un-happen" and to continue to make the best of life that you can. This does not mean pretending everything is "peachy". It means doing your best to move on, accept life and make the best of what's left of it.

 Stepping aside I say as a last resort. If you are unable to cope with life as it is, please realize there are infinite alternate ways that life can continue. Please do not confine yourself to 2 options- life as it currently is vs. a quiet end to it all. The world is not so simple as this. If you're living a sad life in Oklahoma and cannot see a positive end to it, maybe you just need to broaden your perspective. Would your friends and family be sad to see you leave and pursue a brand new life in Texas as an artist or in Costa Rica as a surf instructor? Maybe. But would they be more sad over that, or more sad to find you dead one day because the world was too much for you to handle? Surely the continued life of your own choosing would be better. If not, we need to have another talk. Your family and friends are toxic and they are the problem. This is a relatively easy fix. You need some positive people in your life, and while they may not always seem readily available to you, I assure you they are out there by the bushel. You are in the right place.

Suicide is never the right option. Most often when someone commits to end it all, they are not seeing it all. I strongly urge you to press the edges of existence first. Seriously, if you have a few hundred dollars in your pocket (or even some objects you can liquidate.. after all, you aren't intending to use that X-Box anymore, right?) and are considering ending it all, fly to The Azores. See if you still feel there isn't anything worth living for. At the very least, you owe it to yourself to explore the options out there! If you're going to commit suicide, do it in Chile after you've seen the Andes Mountains and determined that they just aren't all that special and there could not be anything out there worth seeing. Explore the world a bit and see that there are people out there with NOTHING who are clinging to life with two hands while you are ready to let it slip away. This concept is easy to dismiss from afar, but facing it head-on you can't escape it.

The bottom.

"Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up. I’ve seen it. It’s fascinating.” He releases me but doesn’t pull away, his hand grazing my jaw, my neck. “Sometimes I just…want to see it again. Want to see you awake."
― Veronica Roth (via psych-quotes)

As someone who has battled anxiety and panic attacks straight head on, I can relate to this quote. When faced with a truly challenging situation, it tends to make all other tribulations seem trivial. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger can be little comfort at the time, depending on how you look at things.

I have been at the absolute bottom of the world looking up. Trust me, when you’re at the bottom of the world, it’s tough to even imagine seeing the top again. When you’re crying in desperation on a bathroom floor, a nice vacation in Key West is not even a thought that you can even fathom. You struggle to see tomorrow. But, I was in this situation and amazed myself with this revelation… If I can survive this (and it’s irrelevant whether the world at large can understand how large of an obstacle this is. At this time it is seemingly insurmountable to me) I can overcome anything.  This was the empowering thought that allowed me to get up off the floor and ultimately overcome the anxiety that put me there to begin with. I now live a life without those limitations.

While I may have overcome many things in my life, mental illness was been by far the most challenging for me. Anxiety caused me to retreat into myself. It almost cost me my career and did cost me my marriage (which I now realize was never all that strong if this could break it. “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health… and all that.”) But this experience has taught me a ton about resilience. It did make me stronger.
While for a long time I did feel that fear was shutting me down, ultimately it woke me up and made me alive.

The only light that I could see at the end of the tunnel at this particularly dark time was the stronger person that this experience was going to make me. And this was true. I do have to remind myself of this from time to time for sure. I can now tell myself that I should not take each day for granted because there was a time when I could not see the future that I am now living and thriving in.

There was an experience recently that tested this resolve and reminded me of this part of my past. It was good that it reminded of this part of my past, because it is very easy to forget the lessons that are taught by such tough times. Recently I was robbed at gunpoint. This is a situation that would send anyone's heart rate through the roof and bring out anxiety in anyone who is not Liam Neson's character from "Taken".

While I did get a little worked up and I didn't exactly handle the situation the way Martin Riggs would, I did keep my composure pretty well. I was taken by surprise, physically assaulted, held at gunpoint and forced to give up the money in the safe that I was responsible for. Was I scared? Yes! Anyone would be! I do not too closely analyze my actions during this traumatic experience. I am told that people in my situation have frozen, not been able to recall the safe combination, etc... This can get you killed. I am trained to follow preventative measures, but to simply comply if confronted like this, and that's what I did. I look more to the actions that I took after the incident took place.

I have simply broken down into a ball of anxiety in the past over so much less. This was a legitimately stressful situation that would make most emotionally tough people break down into jitters. I held my composure to the point that I was a little concerned about being considered as a suspect or as being false with my statements to the police due to being overly calm. There was evidence immediately on the scene that this was an inside job. Security procedures at my workplace are pretty tight and pretty much the only way a robbery like this could take place was for someone inside to comply or assist.

I am proud of myself for having the peace of mind in this stressful time to examine the other people there with me well enough to realize to understand that one was much more traumatized than I was (though I was the only one actually physically assaulted) and one was much more calm than seemed normal. It turned out that the one who was overly calm was the one who was involved in the robbery and was later arrested and is now serving time.

Anyway, the details aren't that important. I just want to express to those who may be at the bottom the way I was a few years ago, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it is not simply looking out the tunnel to see a return to normal, to the life that you were used to before. What lies at the other end of the tunnel can be much greater if you embrace it. The only thing that got me up off that bathroom floor was the idea that there was something greater that I could achieve. It was the fact from the viewpoint that you have with your face flat on the ground, a small fire-ant hill looks like a mountain.  If you put that in perspective, you can see yourself standing up, stepping over a mountain, and saying "what's next?" Then you look at a real mountain and you can say "bring it on!" While others who haven't faced these challenges still fear a challenge of this magnitude.

When you've felt life slip away from you, a lot of power can come your way. This is certainly not limited to anxiety and panic. There are many severe forms of mental and physical illness that can bring this type of revelation. The blessing with mental illness is, that while I will certainly not say it is not a real thing, it can usually be less terminal than physical illness.

Anyone who ever considers ending things needs to think of one thing... once you've considered the end, the world has now opened up. Seriously. Hate your life where you're at? Suicide is not the way to go. Once you've considered the end, you have little to lose, much the same way that someone who is diagnosed with terminal cancer is faced with the end (only you can choose to continue on). Instead of ending it all, you could move to Guatemala and surf for the rest of your days or go to Alaska and become and Eskimo guide. Would those options not be better than being #456 to jump from the Bay Bridge? For sure!

Friday, January 24, 2014


This past Monday night I was robbed at gunpoint. There is still an active investigation so I will spare the details. I will just say it was a scary experience.

I have been commended for my calm under the pressure of this stressful situation. People say I did the right thing. People say I was brave. People have even said that I'm a hero. The thing is, I don't feel brave or heroic. I simply complied with the gunman's demands to the best of my ability and then called the police after he left.

Looking back, though this could be a major step for me. As nervous and anxious as I have been prone to be, this could have been a major challenge for me. People freeze up in circumstances like this. Their minds go blank. I could have frozen up and not been able to comply with the attackers demands. I could have forgotten the safe codes or could have been to shaky to enter the code into the keypad. I could have had a full out panic attack and could have acted erratically and gotten myself shot. But I didn't do any of those things. I complied with a reasonable level of anxiety and fear given the situation.

I called the police and was a bit anxious while talking with them and dealing with the aftermath. This is natural after such a traumatic experience. But overall I remained remarkably calm throughout the few hours I spent dealing with the aftermath. And in the days following, life has seemed to continue on as scheduled. They gave me a few extra days off from work to "deal with things."

People keep asking me if I'm OK. "How are you doing?" they say. But I don't know how to respond. I am fine. Nothing has changed. My life is exactly as it was before this happened, but all this prodding makes me concerned that maybe it should not be this easy. It seems as if I'm expected to feel something. Fear, maybe anger, pain, or some sense of loss? But I don't. Today I did exactly the type of things I would have done with any normal free Friday, aside from a quick visit with the police to look at a lineup of photos.

There are a few thoughts I have on this:

One. As I have always said on my blog, I feel that my battles with panic attacks made me a stronger person. I am now more attuned than most to the things that my body tells me. I am better able to cope with stress. Many years of "false alarms" with the fight or flight response have trained me to cope with these moments better than some others. "From chaos come clarity". Now don't get me wrong. Of course I am not talking about any movie hero type calm under pressure. Liam Neeson from "Taken" would have disabled this punk in 0.25 seconds and made him fork over HIS wallet. This was not me. I have no shame in that. This stuff only happens in movies. I am not going to say I was not scared. I was TERRIFIED! I was punched multiple times all while having a gun pointed at my head.

But I did handle myself with, I think, and admirable level of grace considering the circumstances. I do thank my lucky stars that I was able to remain this calm during this. I have more to elaborate on this, but feel that it would be wise to wait until the investigation is complete to say anymore in the direction that I want to go.

For now, I am just monitoring myself and trying to look out for what is best for me. I do not want to relapse into panic. I have been panic attack free for close to two years now. I find that the worst thing to do at this point is to think of that streak when I begin to get anxious. The added pressure of breaking this streak just makes it all that much worse. I am usually able to abate it with some opposite action techniques and realizing once again that if I do have a panic attack life will go on.

I intend to seek some counseling. While I don't feel anything yet, I have been advised by people who deal with things like this more than I do. They have said that it's paramount to seek some counseling as anger or fear will surely show up at some point. I will take their advice. Mostly I am determined not to let this change me. I like who I am. I do not want to change and be someone else. I will not the thugs and punks of this world change me into a fearful or hateful person. Resisting this may be one of my hardest challenges right now...

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Panic Contagious?

In the past few months I have encountered others suffering from panic attacks twice. There was a stark difference, thought this last time. This time I did not feel panicked myself. 

In the past, it has often been enough to spur anxiety any time that I would witness someone else being extremely anxious. I dealt with a guest at work a few months ago who was having a severe panic attack. While I maintained my composure, I was feeling quite panicked on the inside. It sometimes feels that panic can be contagious. 

This most recent situation, however was quite different. An employee of mine had a severe panic attack the other day at work. Seeing her this way did not cause me to panic this time. I was able to calmly sit by her side and try to help her. 

 I even confided that I also have had panic attacks. This helped to ease her nerves a bit, I hope. But I am positive that it helped me to ease mine. This I think was the primary difference in the two situations. The first time, with the guest, I was new to the job and not comfortable with discussing my own issues with anxiety. This fed the anxiety. This time, I was much more comfortable and willing to try and share my own experiences and help this girl. 

While I don't think I got anything at all through to her (she ended up popping a pill and becoming almost instantly dopey, a way in which I never handled my problems) I did learn something about myself. And about other's perceptions... I did encounter a few people saying she was just doing it for the attention. This renews my focus on being unashamed of my anxiety disorder. I am in a position to be a role model to some, and them seeing that I too have struggles can maybe offer some guidance to those in trouble and some perspective to those who criticize.

Anxiety can be contagious, but only as much as you let it in. Another's anxiety is just a trigger like any other. You can fend it off in the same ways. A calm and centered mind is the best defense.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I am still proud to say that I have not had a panic attack. It has been well over a year now and the fear of panic no longer plagues my life. I now consider myself a true success story. 

Ten years ago, none of this was even in my sights. I hadn't a worry in the world (aside from the usual... Not being able to pay my bills, struggling with college, and tuition.) One of many things that actually makes me grateful for this battle with anxiety is this. I am now able to see those old problems for what they were; inconsequential and trivial. In recent times I have faced problems every bit as troubling, if not much more so. Yet I have now learned to keep my composure and strength. 

In the past year (panic attack free year), I have gone through divorce, changed jobs, and relocated to an entire new state. Any one of these factors can be stressful on their own. I am not a prideful person, but I do feel immense pride in my ability to handle this all with grace and dignity. But I do not forget that I learned much of this composure through my struggles with anxiety. I would not be the man that I am today without those challenges.

Just two years ago I was at a very extreme low. Anxiety had overwhelmed my life. I was scared every time I left my home. I had panic attacks while driving and was terrified of entering a busy road or highway. It was also getting to a point where I would begin to panic at work or even at home. My world was shrinking, closing in on itself, and it seemed there was no way to reverse this. It kept getting worse by the day. I had hit bottom. I no longer saw a future. I was unable to enjoy life. Thoughts of suicide were there. It did seem like the easiest way to end the pain. I simply am not selfish enough to do that to the people who love me. And now for those people I am forever grateful. For now I again see how much potential my life has.

I now appreciate things more. I see life's problems in perspective. And a major key to this all is that while I would hate to break my "win streak", I do realize that it's not the end of the world if I do. The ultimate enemy of the anxious person is simply the fear of fear itself. If you do not fear panic attacks, they simply will not happen. 

The extreme challenge is to break down the difference between telling yourself you do not fear and actually believing it. Frantically willing yourself to not be afraid of the panic attack will work about as well as excitedly hoping for sleep the night before a big test or event. We've all been there. The more you try to sleep, the harder it is. But if you can recall a time you have willingly tried to stay up all night, it felt almost impossible to keep your eyes open. Anxiety works much the same way. The harder you fight it, the more it comes on. 

The key lies in opposite action. If you feel anxious, acting anxious will only lead to more anxiety. Acting calm, however, will point you in the direction of calm. But that calm has to felt. This is something that requires practice. I suggest trying in lower pressure situations at first. 

Anyway, this started off as a simple status report and ended up a full-blown post. I do not find time to post often lately, but I do love to try and help when I can. My inspiration for this blog has always been the memory of those first few days after my first panic attack. I was confused and terrified. As I've chronicled here, it did not immediately improve from there. I saw some very low valleys in life. I have ow again learned to see the mountain tops, and if I can help just one person out of that mess it is all worth the effort.

ANY questions or concerns can be emailed to me and I would love to respond. Also please see my Facebook page and twitter account.