Today’s guest is Susan, a long-time friend of my mine who is here to share her story about her battles with anorexia and bulimia throughout college.  We also touch on her husbands’s suicide later on in her life, and how that has affected her family moving forward. 

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Jaimal Yogis is the author of three books (arguably with the most awesome titles ever), “Saltwater Buddha,” “The Fear Project,” and the forthcoming “All Our Waves Are Water.”  His work centers around the intersections of surfing, fear, meditation, eastern philosophy and personal memoir, the journey of which began when he ran away from home at age 16 to go learn how to surf in Hawaii in the wake of his parents’ divorce.  Jaimal has taken the lessons he’s learned from the ocean and his travels and applied them everyday life in way that’s pretty awe-inspiring. 

Highlights of this episode include:

— Why Jaimal ran way at home at age 16 to learn how to surf in Hawaii

— How his adventures as a youth influenced his parenting style today

— All the great ways surfing serves as a metaphor for life

— Why spending time in the water is like magic

— Why he decided to write an entire book about fear following a break-up

— The ancient roots of fear, and how we’re biologically wired to “fight, flight or flee”

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It’s hard to believe, but Undue Anxiety has been around for an entire year now!  To celebrate, I’m joined once again by my wife, Julie, to talk about some of the most significant observations we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned in the process of hosting this very podcast.  While we touch on a range of topics that are bulleted below, perhaps the most important takeaway is that you should never, ever forget what it is that’s great about YOU…

What you’ll hear in this episode:
-Why we changed the name of the podcast to “Undue Anxiety”
-Why we should be honest and forthcoming with our stories versus hiding our anxieties
-My first experience with panic attacks at age 14
-What we’ve noticed when people are forthcoming in sharing their stories
-The inability to hear yourself in a world of constant external stimuli
-Therapy as a means of self optimization
-The mental & emotional roots of many physical problems
-A crucial exercise to help you reconnect to what’s great about you

(Editor's note:  I've had the following piece of writing piece of writing pinned to my wall for the last few months, and thought it would be appropriate to share along with this episode.  Enjoy!)

There is a vitality,
a life force,
a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

And If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine
how good it is
nor how valuable it is
nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.

Keep the channel open...
No artist is pleased...

There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes “us" MORE alive than the others.

Martha Graham
( - a letter to Agnes De Mille-)

 

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Andrea Petersen is a contributing writer to the Wall Street Journal, where she writes about health, psychology and neuroscience.  She’s also the author of the recently-published memoir “On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety,” which is an incredible read that’s quite the page turner.  In our conversation, Andrea is kind enough to talk about some of the more harrowing aspects of her journey, as well as some of the most important tools in her toolbox for managing anxiety. 

Highlights of this episode include: 

— Andrea recalls the first time she ever experienced anxiety

— Her extensive journey through the medical world to arrive at an anxiety diagnosis

— The long list of avoidance behaviors she acquired and whether she judged herself for them

— The way a childhood illness can be a precursor for developing anxiety later in life

— Why she thinks anxiety is increasing among young people

— How anxiety disorders have actually improved Andrea’s life

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Summoning the confidence to follow your dreams is a much more difficult task for the average college student than it may seem. Take today’s guest, Aaron, for example — he’s been a gifted soccer player all his life, and earned a tremendous opportunity to play soccer at a NCAA Division 1 school.  But something wasn’t quite right.  He had all sorts of fears and doubts about whether or not he could actually succeed, and a history of six concussions telling him maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. The root of what Aaron was dealing with, was simply a lack of confidence, and with this episode we delve deeply into the nature of it, and it how’s such a key player in shaping our lives. 

 

What we talk about in this episode:

 — Aaron’s history of concussions as a soccer player, and the how they affected his daily functioning

—  His lack of confidence in pursuing a soccer career, even in the face of big opportunities

—  Where he suspects his lack of confidence originates

— His path back to playing soccer again, once his concussion symptoms healed

— His current inspirational outlook on the nature of following one’s dreams

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Dr. Joe Tatta is a doctor of physical therapy and the author the new book titled “Heal Your Pain Now: The Revolutionary Program to Reset Your Brain and Body for a Pain-Free Life.”  If you or a loved one is experiencing any sort of chronic pain, you’re definitely going to want to tune into our conversation, which was illuminating in terms of the role that our brains and emotions play in the larger picture of pain.  Dr. Tatta believes that resolving pain has a lot more to do with the brain than the body, and makes a very strong argument for his case. 

TOPICS WE DISCUSS IN THIS EPISODE:

— Joe’s surprising philosophy on how to alleviate chronic pain for good  [2:00]

— The difference between acute pain and chronic pain  [3:12]

— Why pain persists sometimes even after an injury had healed  [6:00]

— The types of people who may be pre-disposed to developing chronic pain  [9:00]

— The correlation between chronic pain and depression/anxiety  [12:15]

— How re-framing the way you think about chronic pain can possibly eliminate it altogether [14:10]

— Why Joe believes traditional methods of treating pain, such as medications, will always fail [14:45]

— The difference between pain and suffering [21:00]

— The role that fear plays in pain, and how addressing fear can diminish pain [23:50]

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Today’s guest is my friend Kelli — an incredible wife and mother, a vice president at a company you’ve probably heard of, and one of the most all-around brilliant, vibrant people I know.  The story Kelli’s here to share begins shortly after she finished college and moved to Los Angeles, when she unfortunately lost her mother to suicide. What followed were some very difficult years during which she stayed incredibly busy as a way to cope, until a car accident forced her to finally slow down and begin the process of processing her grief…

WHAT WE DISCUSS IN THIS EPISODE:
— The sudden loss of her mother to suicide, and how she coped by staying incredibly busy  [2:25]
— The car accident that forced her to finally deal with her mother’s death  [6:15]
— The disastrous night that convinced her to finally seek therapy  [11:00]
— The process of getting into therapy  [14:30]
— Feeling embarrassment about getting help  [19:30]
— Kelli’s advice for people who may be struggling with intense feelings [25:15]

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Today’s guest is Mark Lukach, author of a brand new memoir titled “My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward.” If the title alone isn't enough to grab you, this snippet from the book’s description says it all:

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Needless to say, when Mark was thrusted into the new role as his wife’s caregiver he inevitably found himself confused, frustrated, and worst of all —  completely alone. So the two big questions Mark and I tackle in our conversation are:  A) How does one take care of themselves and draw the strength to support your spouse during a difficult mental illness? And B) How is his love and admiration for his wife able to remain intact through this journey? Mark’s wisdom on the topic is definitely worth a listen.

WHAT WE DISCUSS IN THIS EPISODE:
— Mark summarizes the story of his marriage and the onset of his wife’s illness and 3 hospitalizations [1:54]
— The (lack of) help Mark’s insurance company offered him when he considered counseling for himself [8:05]
— How Giulia’s illness actually made their family stronger in the long run [9:35]
— Mark’s frustration about the lack of information available for caregivers [12:20]
— How Mark’s love and admiration for Giulia has remained intact throughout her illness [15:05]
— How an active lifestyle, particularly running, became a great source of strength for Mark [16:25]
— The primal nature of running, and it connects us to our human ancestry [22:05]
— How surfing, and even just being in or around water can have similar effects [24:05]
— Mark’s advice to other caregivers [29:55]

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“I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was gonna faint. I just thought I was dying. There’s just this place that you have no ground underneath your feet and you don’t know what’s going on with you.”

Above are the words from today’s guest Melissa Woods, describing what it felt like to be inside of a panic attack. Like so many of us — these panic attacks began seemingly out of nowhere for Melissa, and slowly grew into an invisible monster that dictated nearly every aspect of her life. 

Melissa is the author of the recent novel “Getting Past Anxiety,” in which she details her entire experience as well as the healing the journey that changed her life. And in our chat today, we’re able to dig into the nitty gritty details of her a story a bit in hopes that some aspect of her journey will inspire others to move past their undue anxiety woes.

 

WHAT WE DISCUSS IN THIS EPISODE:

— Her negative experience taking anxiety medication  [3:04]

— How seeing a chiropractor helped launch her healing journey  [4:54]

— What her panic attack symptoms felt like [7:04]

— How nobody in her family ever knew she suffered from anxiety until her book was published [8:44]

— Trying to manage anxiety as a single mom [10:34]

— Diagnosing anxiety via a psychiatrist versus attempting to decode the message anxiety has for us [12:34]

— How her anxiety morphed into claustrophobia and agoraphobia [13:04]

— How she met her transformational healer, and the process that helped her address the root cause of her anxiety [21:24]

— Can anxiety be inherited from a previous generation? [27:54]

— Why a novel was the ideal way for her to share her story versus a self-help book [33:04]

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April 28, 2017

On “13 Reasons Why”

Today, I’m joined by 18-year-old Mattis, and we’re talking about the trending Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” which is as addictive and entertaining as it is controversial and downright disturbing at times. If you’re not familiar, the show centers around the unfortunate suicide of a young high school girl named Hannah, and a set of audio tapes she leaves behind for 13 of her peers whom she felt played a role in her decision to end her life. While many feel the show is spreading awareness about teen suicide prevention, others - including some of my colleagues in the mental health profession - fear that show may actually be sending the wrong message who those who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

**Spoilers are present throughout this episode**

Topics we explore in this episode include:
-The extremely graphic suicide scene at the end of the series
-Is this show a realistic representation of the typical high school experience?
-Are younger people mis-interpreting the message of this show in a dangerous way?
-How to handle someone confiding their suicidal thoughts in you
-Should parents let their kids watch this show?

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