In some instances of mental illness, there may be no cure. Instead, the sufferer will simply have to work to make symptoms more manageable. Since anxiety disorders are so common, it’s reasonable to assume each person may encounter another with a disorder during his or her life. One such story is told in a new book released in March: “Anxiety as an Ally: How I Turned a Worried Mind into a Best Friend.” It was written by Dan Ryckert as something of an autobiography. He says that it is mostly his experience, though also inclusive of the self help methods that worked for him.
As he recounts his experiences with the anxiety disorder, he begins with his first anxiety attack in 2003. He remembers on New Year’s Day of that year, when symptoms first appeared. Ryckert, then 18, was watching a movie at the time. He then began to feel an awareness of tingling in his limbs. Ryckert also began to perspire at this time. The anxiety caused him to have a more rapid heart rate and to breathe more quickly as well. Ryckert was experiencing his first anxiety attack. Later, he would watch a second film and experience yet another anxious episode.
Managing the symptoms
Ryckert has since been successful in his life and learned how not to let his symptoms hold him back. He eventually first sought assistance through the school’s medical facility and continued to learn more about anxiety disorders from there. He now has the professional job of his dreams and works for a video game company. Ryckert has grown from stage-fright during college roll call to being lauded as an accomplished public speaker.
In his journey for treatment, Ryckert attempted a number of different methods of therapy. These included support groups, medication and acupuncture. Eventually, this allowed him a better understanding of how to best make his symptoms work for him. He reveals the purpose of his book is to demonstrate how anxiety can be harnessed for a more positive outcome in one’s livelihood. The author has even set two Guinness World Records in his quest to overcome the perceived setback.This is Ryckert’s fourth book.
In an interview about his experiences with anxiety, Ryckert opens up about how after sharing about it through social networking, he was approached by others who suffer with the disorder at a video game convention. He is now reaching more people with his message than ever before. Yet the author has still struggled in the years since. Ryckert recounted how he once stayed at the Excalibur Hotel and almost considered leaping from the building in a moment of suicidal ideation; instead he retreated to the bottom of the hotel and was able to calm himself down.
Ryckert believes that the worst phrase to say to a person that is experiencing anxiety is that they should remain calm or “chill out.” He would like the public to better appreciate why this is not so easily accomplished.
Methods of treatment
In the book, “Anxiety as an Ally: How I Turned a Worried Mind Into a Best Friend,” the author covers a number of different treatments he tried in seeking relief for symptoms. His disclaimer throughout the work is that these are the methods that worked for him. The methods he mentions include meditation, which is a technique that has been in use for several centuries. In the western world, this may also at times incorporate a sense of mindfulness, which can also be used as a form of therapy for mental health. There are many forms of meditation throughout the world and each client can choose an individual form that works best for them.
Another form of recovery that Ryckert has undergone is acupuncture. This has been shown to provide relief for anxiety symptoms, as the location of the needles can assist the nervous system in creating painkilling chemicals. Another benefit of this treatment is that it can encourage the body to heal itself and activate areas of the brain related to emotion. In more recent decades, this has been gaining popularity as a form of anxiety relief. Some argue that while it may not be as effective for every single person, this is also the case for a number of other treatments as well. There have been participants that have seen results in one session.
The benefits of support groups in such therapy include the social benefit of connecting with others who have an anxiety disorder. In combination with other forms of recovery such as cognitive behavioral therapy and appropriate medication, those with such a disorder can have a much greater chance of leading a healthy, interactive life. Patients should be willing to see what works and a holistic treatment program allows for this.
Dan Ryckert is a Senior Editor at Giant Bomb, the largest online video game database. He formerly wrote for Game Informer and the Lawrence Journal-World and has struggled with anxiety since the age of 18. This is his fourth book. To read more from the author, visit here.
Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Group writer