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My Anxiety Journey: How I Overcame Anxiety

(and... Why I Created This Website)

Fellow Anxiety Sufferer,
 
My name is Robert Miller. I am the creator of Profound Anxiety Solutions. I am also a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and panic attacks – or at least I used to be.
 
To begin, I want to say thank you. Thank you for visiting us, reading what we offer and sharing your valuable time on our site.
 
There are hundreds of websites out there that discuss anxiety so we appreciate you being here with us. We truly strive to help those with anxiety and we only provide recommendations based on what works.
 
I also wanted to say – you are not alone! We are a community that wants to help and provide support any way we can. You can join us on Facebook or email us directly at [email protected]
 
We are only a click away and truly dedicated to helping you.
 
As a fellow anxiety sufferer, I know what it's like to be where you are today. Searching for answers, suggestions and help wherever you can find it.
 
I know what it‘s like to have friends and family tell you – “just stop worrying so much” – realizing just how impossible that simple suggestion can be.
 
I remember lying in bed more nights than I count, unable to sleep – mind racing. Worrying about things that never happened. Fixated on problems that deep down didn’t really matter. Hesitant to go to public places, fearful that “it may happen again.” Or making excuses to avoid events, get-togethers or uncomfortable social interactions.
 
Early on in my life I was determined to find a way out of the endless loop of worry, fear and prescription medications. I can honestly say I tried almost everything to overcome my anxiety and improve my life.
 
Like you, I also researched. I also spent many years on prescription drugs which pushed me to find more natural, permanent solutions.
 
This is my journey – the path I took to manage, control and eventually overcome my anxiety. This is how I went from over 10 years of daily anxiety and panic attacks – while on one prescription drug after another – to confident, secure and free of excessive anxiety and panic attacks.
 

My Journey

 
Anxiety first took hold of my life in my early teen years but looking back I feel I always had anxiety. Some people would describe it as being “shy.” I would often hear things like “He's just shy” or “He's a quiet boy.”
 
In reality I was shy and quiet because I was constantly nervous and full of fear. My childhood was filled with uncertainty and worry.
 
We moved around a lot – which meant new schools, new peers and trying to fit in all over again. I also witnessed domestic abuse of my mother on many occasions which led to feelings of helplessness and increased fear.
 
When I became a teenager my anxiety manifested as obsessive thoughts and behaviors, relentless worrying, unrealistic fears and a mind that felt like it wouldn’t stop. I began having regular panic attacks. Ultimately, this led to isolation and avoidance of social situations.
 
Being a teenager means increased responsibilities, pressures and of course puberty. These were experiences I simply wasn't able to handle and my anxiety truly took over my life.
 
When I say it took over, I mean it truly took hold of everything I did in my life. Where I went, who I was around, what I did. It made me second guess everything and plan ahead in case “it” happened again.
 
I quickly realized that this wasn't how most of the people around me felt all the time. Sure people had worries with the pressures of growing up or develop anxiety from time to time – but this was different – this was constant. I was experiencing anxiety 24/7.
 
This was chronic and obsessive worry, panic and deep fear. It was interfering with my life and I wanted to get better. I took the first step on my anxiety journey the same way many people do – I went to the doctor.
 
 

Prescription Rollercoaster

 
At the age of 15 I went to see a doctor about my anxiety and panic attacks. After a short talk, he concluded that my anxiety was caused by a serotonin deficiency and prescribed Prozac (yep Prozac at 15).
 
Within a few days I was worrying less and felt more comfortable in public. I didn’t necessarily feel happy, but I also wasn’t as anxious or fearful.
 
After a few weeks, I felt nothing at all. I didn’t worry as much anymore because I no longer felt strongly about anything. At the time I felt this was better than the alternative of daily anxiety and panic attacks.
 
After a few months on Prozac, the positive benefits declined, and I made another visit to the doctor. He decided to increase my dosage.
 
The “benefits” returned, but this time with more severe side effects. Along with the lack of feelings came a gradual loss of motivation for anything.
 
I became a cold, uncaring, unemotional human being.
 
As the side effects continued I realized I needed to do something. My next visit to the doctor resulted in an entirely new prescription.
 
This time Paxil.
 
For the next decade I continued on this prescription rollercoaster.
 
I was prescribed Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Effexor and several other medications.
 
Each time the “benefits” seemed to wear off the doctor would increase the dosage. Once that stopped working or the side effects got worse we would experiment with a new prescription.

I tried drug cocktails – adding this prescription to the mix, taking away that one or taking 2 or 3 medications at the same time.
 
While I did receive a measurable degree of relief from anxiety and panic attacks with these medications – I didn't want to live the rest of my life in a numb, medicated fog.
 
While I'm not demonizing antidepressants – they have their place and can even be life-saving – I also don't see them as a permanent solution for most people.

I do believe there is a percentage of those who's anxiety is caused by a true “chemical imbalance,” where medication may be necessary for the long-term.

However, for most people, these drugs should be used to provide short term support.
 
Problems arise seem to arise when doctors have their patients try every drug available for years on end without providing alternatives.

If a true chemical imbalance isn't the cause of the anxiety, medication is simply a band-aid and likely will not provide permanent solutions.
 
(My experience with antidepressants took place before the link was discovered between antidepressants and suicidal thoughts in young people. Looking back on my experience I was lucky. Many young people took their own lives because of drugs like Paxil and other antidepressants. Fortunately, we now know the dangers of prescribing antidepressants to children and teenagers.)
 
 

Seeking A Way Out

 
During those years of taking medications for anxiety, I was determined to overcome anxiety naturally. I researched and read everything I could find on human psychology.
 
I wanted to know what was going on with me. Did I have some type of “disorder?” Maybe it was a “chemical imbalance?” I read everything I could find; books, essays, scientific journals, everything.
 
I soon discovered meditation and began to practice… And practice. And practice…
 
Trying to sit still and “notice my thoughts” with an anxious, chaotic mind – was like trying to learn to swim while frantically kicking and splashing as fast as possible. I had a hard time at first.
 
My struggles with meditation led me to search for ways to “boost” my ability to relax and to meditate.
 
During my search, I came across a company called Centerpointe Research. At the time there really wasn't much else like what they were doing. It was all relatively new technology.
 
Centerpointe created a brainwave entrainment product called Holosync. It was my first experience with binaural beats technology. From the first listen there was a noticeable change in my level of nervousness and anxiety. I felt more centered, more balanced.
 
I began using Holosync for one hour every day. I became committed to it.
 
Over the following months, I noticed profound changes. I worried much less; I felt happy and more sociable. I felt more balanced and centered in my mind and body. Panic attacks were becoming less frequent.
 
Within a few months, I was able to become less attached to my thoughts. This key factor gave me much needed space in my mind so that I wasn't constantly wrapped up in my own thoughts.
 
It wasn't necessary to have a knee-jerk reaction to every thought. I didn't need to stop the thoughts (which is almost impossible for anyone). They were just thoughts. This was a huge insight for me.
 
Instead of trying to fix my anxiety, I realized a better way was to develop acceptance, greater self-awareness, and the ability to quiet the mind and maintain space between ME and thoughts.
 
My new found experience with brainwave entrainment greatly increased my interest in meditation. Once my daily meditation practice was firmly grounded, I began practicing breathwork techniques and eventually moved into a daily mindfulness practice.
 
 

Coming Off Antidepressants

 
After years of taking antidepressants daily I felt I no longer needed them – it was time to come off. I didn’t want to be stuck taking a pill for the rest of my life.
 
I was feeling good from my daily meditation and I felt I had a greater understanding of myself. Should be easy right?
 
If you’ve ever been on a prescription drug, like an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication, you probably know how difficult it can be to come off. Especially after years of daily use. You probably know (or you should know if you're on one and plan to come off) the importance of slowly lowering your dose.
 
Unfortunately, I was young and slightly over confident in my ability come off of the drugs – I didn’t realize the dangers of stopping a medication that had such a powerful impact on my brain.
 
I made a huge mistake – I simply stopped taking them.
 
By the third or fourth day, I was a nervous wreck. I had extreme panic attacks. My brain was going non-stop. All the feelings the pills had blunted overwhelmed me all at once.
 
By the end of the week, I was back on them again.
 
It would take several more years and several more failed attempts before I would come off of those medications entirely.
 
Although painful my first failed attempt provided another positive insight into my anxiety. I realized that my brain chemistry and my biology played an integral role in my anxiety and overall mental health.
 
Meditation and other techniques were essential tools for my anxiety – but my brain needed a little more help to handle the effects of years of prescription drug use.
 
Over the next few years, I studied biology, brain chemistry and supplementation.
 
With a better understanding of biology and brain chemistry, I realized that the anti-depressants were helping my brain to hold serotonin (which is how SSRIs work). By stopping cold turkey my brain was not holding (or producing) serotonin as it should – because it had become dependent on the medications for that purpose.
 
I needed to support my brain by providing the neurotransmitters it needed if I would come off of the medication successfully.
 
After several years, and several more failed attempts,  I made my final attempt to come off of the prescription medications.
 
I purposefully chose a time where things were going well in my life. I had a loving, supportive girlfriend, a good job and great friends. I was at a point in life I had always wanted to be. Life was less hectic and more grounded.
 
I believe that choosing that time, with supportive people beside me was instrumental in helping me to stop the medication.
It worked!
 

Self Improvement

 
I have always been interested in self development and self improvement. While other kids my age were partying or buying the latest sneakers – I was reading Freud and purchasing all the self-help books I could get my hands on.
 
For better or worse I was becoming a self help junkie.
 
To say I tried a lot of different therapies and programs would be an understatement. In my early 20's I had a decent paying job and began to go full force with my self improvement journey.
 
I started with various programs. This was before the huge number of online courses now available online, so they were usually mailed to you as DVD's or CD's.
 
I also attended numerous seminars, workshops and retreats. Some helpful and well regarded such as meditation retreats – others pushed the boundaries of made up garbage that was created to make money.
 
I tried numerous supplements, herbs, medications and nootropics. I experimented with the latest technologies and devices that promised relief from stress, anxiety and depression. Again some had been scientifically proven and did provide relief while others were mere “snake oil.”
 
To give you a better idea of some of the things I have tried for anxiety, stress and panic attacks – here is a small list
 
 
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Gestalt Therapy
  • Talk Therapy
  • Hot & Cold Exposure (jumping from an ice cold bath to an extremely hot bath)
  • Silent Retreats
  • Meditation Retreats and Seminars
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workshops
  • Ayahuasca ceremony by a Shaman
  • Psilocybin mushrooms
  • Brainwave entrainment – binaural beats, isochronic tones
  • CES Devices
  • Shadow Work
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Chakra Clearing
  • Acupuncture
  • Integral Life Practice
  • Progressive Relaxation
  • Reishi Healing
  • Rebirthing
  • Trauma Healing workshops  (screaming, crying, hitting pillows)
  • Qigong workshops and trainings
  • Cannabis
  • CBD Oil
  • Biofeedback
  • Herbs & Supplements
  • Medication
  • Pranayama – breathwork
  • Heartmath
  • Nootropics
  • Yoga
  • “Attacking Anxiety and Depression” program
  • The Sedona Method
  • Workshops on Forgiveness
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
  • The Law of Attraction
  • Massage Therapy
  • New Age Self Help Books and Programs – Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, “The Secret”, Deepak Chopra etc.
  • Fasting
  • Heavy Metal Detox
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Visualization
  • Exercise – Weight Lifting
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – “Tapping”

Looking back at this list now, it's a wonder my anxiety isn't worse today than it was before.

This list isn't everything either, there are quite a few things I'm too ashamed to admit I tried.
 
Your personal list may be much smaller or it may look similar. Either way I'm sure you've tried at least a few of the strategies I listed above.
 
The problem with my approach was that I was constantly jumping from one thing to the next. I wrote off many things that I may have gotten benefit from – simply because it didn't provide immediate relief. Or I wasn't fully focused and was attempting a bunch of different therapies at once.
 
Some things were just pure fantasy and provided nothing of value. They would have a good sales pitch or promise incredible results but with nothing to actually back it up.
 
I began to smell these money hungry teachers and peddlers from across the room as I became more experienced with the whole self help industry.
 
There were a few things that surprised me at their effectiveness – such as Acupuncture and Massage Therapy. But the results were very short lived – usually gone completely within a few hours. Still, they felt great!
 
Many of the intensive retreats, workshops and seminars I attended were extremely effective. In some instances after a day or two my anxiety would be gone completely and I would be almost in a state of euphoria. “I'm healed!” I would think to myself.
 
The problem with retreats, however, is that once you leave that safe and accepting environment and get back into the “real world” –  you tend to slip back into your old patterns fairly quickly.
 
I've attended well over 15 retreats, seminars and workshops and this has been the case every time. You may have experienced the same.
 
That's not to say we should avoid retreats or seminars or that they aren't effective – they can in fact be life changing – it's that after the retreat you need to bring whatever practice you learned into the world with you.
 
The “high” will wear off and your guard may go back up but the real world is where those skills are truly needed.
 
Some of the things I tried actually made my anxiety much worse. Cannabis, for example, made me extremely anxious, to the point of paranoia. Even while friends and others would claim it would “mellow me out.”
 
A few of the therapies such as rebirthing and trauma therapy brought up so much unconscious baggage that I would end up needing therapy for several months to deal with it all.
 
Then there are those strategies and techniques that have worked for me and I continue to use to this day. These are the strategies and therapies that we teach on this site – such as Meditation & Mindfulness, CBT, brainwave entrainment, Qigong, MBSR, breathwork, relaxation techniques, supplements, exercise and nutrition.
 
 

The Final Pieces of the Anxiety Puzzle

 
During this time of self improvement, meditation and self help I had completely neglected an essential part of my overall health – my body.
 
While I had been aware of the power of herbs and supplements for many years – I had ignored the importance of healthy nutrition, getting the proper vitamins and minerals and the power of exercise. These 3 components play a huge role, not only in our overall health, but in the amount anxiety we experience.
 
I saw massive changes when I improved my diet, reduced my sugar and caffeine intake and started an exercise program.
 
Meditation and therapy are incredibly powerful when it comes to handling anxiety – but if your consuming massive amounts of caffeine, refined sugars, processed foods and other junk on a daily basis – your brain and body are going to suffer. This will make truly overcoming anxiety incredibly difficult or impossible.
 
I avoided exercise most of life. As a teenager, the gym would invoke intense feelings of anxiety.
 
I've always been skinny – even though I'm in good shape now – and laying my scrawny body on a bench and barely being able to lift the bar in front of a bunch of people – sounded about as fun as a root canal.
 
After developing a healthier diet and supplementing with vitamins, minerals and other herbs – exercise was the next logical step. In fact when my diet and nutrition improved I actually had the desire and the energy to exercise. It felt good taking care of my body and I wanted to continue.
 
I quickly discovered that exercise is an amazing stress reliever.
 
At the time I would go to the gym for about an hour, 3 days a week, right after work. Regardless of what happened during the day I would put it all into my workout.
 
Stress, tension and anxiety would disappear by the end of my workout. I would drive home feeling great. I would feel mentally sharper, more grounded in my body and I would sleep much better at night. 
 
I tried both cardio and weightlifting. In my experience weightlifting is far superior for anxiety, stress and tension relief. In addition I felt good and looked good – so I felt more confident. I still did some cardio – like running on the treadmill and other warming up cardio exercises but I received the most benefit from weightlifting.
 
I recommend trying both and see which works best for you. Doesn't matter if your a woman or a man. Your goal doesn't have to be to look like a model on a fitness magazine. Your goal can simply be to improve your health and reduce stress and anxiet. I recommend at least give weightlifting a shot.
 
Many self help books, magazines and websites recommend exercise for anxiety but they usually talk about cardio – running, walking, exercise balls etc. – especially when it's advice geared toward women. I feel this is a mistake.
 
Not that cardio is bad or doesn't have any benefit but cardio combined with weightlifting – and/or body weight exercises such chinups and pushups – can make a much bigger difference.
 
 

An Integrative Approach

 
I spent many years trying many different techniques, therapies and strategies – getting results here and there from different places.
 
Through trial and error and years of experimenting, I finally realized what worked for anxiety.
 
By combining specific techniques, practices and therapies that worked in each area of my life I created an integrative approach to overcoming my anxiety. This was the key.

The areas I am talking about are:
 
  • Biology (brain & body): focusing on a healthy diet, physical fitness, and using effective strategies to keep our brain and body healthy, we become healthier in both body and mind, leading to less stress and anxiety, and greater vitality
  • Psychology (ego, thoughts, beliefs): what we believe about ourselves and the world around us, what we focus on and think about and the person we want to portray to others directly shapes the world we see and the life we experience, it also has a profound effect on how we feel and whether or not we experience anxiety; therapies such as CBT, ACT and Psychotherapy can be invaluable for helping us in this regard
  • Mind, Breath and Spirit (Mind with a capital “M”): meditation & mindfulness, breathwork, Qigong and other techniques help to establish the essential skills for quieting the mind, becoming more centered and connecting with something greater than ourselves
  • Environmental (relationships & environment): here the focus is on our relationships with others, setting clear boundaries, getting out of toxic or negative relationships, improving our lives through work, love and family
Combining all of these areas into an integrative approach to my anxiety proved to be the answer to my lifelong anxiety, fear and panic attacks. My life has been changed ever since.
 
 

The Next Stage

 
Over the past 25 years I have spent hundreds of hours researching, reading and training. Thousands of dollars were spent trying different supplements and herbs to find what worked best. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent attending seminars and retreats.
 
It was a persistent effort through trial and error
 
I realized many people were attempting a similar method of “trial and error”  to overcome their anxiety issues.
 
Having drastically improved the quality of my own life, I began to offer help and guidance to those that were in the same boat as myself years earlier. I offered advice based on what had worked for me.
 
I started by helping my family and friends. Both anxiety and depression ran in my family so there was no shortage of those in need of help.
 
My mother had been on and off of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications for as long as I could remember. She would always refer to her anxiety as “bad nerves.” I’m not sure whether that term came from her doctor or something she preferred over “anxiety” or “panic attacks.”
 
Many of her beliefs about herself were ingrained over a lifetime and she wasn’t open to the idea of meditation or brainwave entrainment. So we started with something basic and essential – her diet.
 
I had never realized how terrible her diet was until we actually sat down and discussed it. Between fast food for dinner, a pot of coffee and a pack of cigarettes a day – it became easy to see what was causing a lot of her anxiety.
 
Simply eliminating the negative foods and substances and replacing them with more healthy options had a profound effect.
 
Improving her diet and cutting back on coffee and cigarettes, while introducing supplements like magnesium and fish oil reduced her anxiety drastically. Over time she began journaling and warmed to the idea of using brainwave entrainment- or as she refers to it – her “mental vacation.”
 
She eventually quit smoking after a lifetime of trying and rarely drinks coffee anymore. Her diet has remained healthy and it definitely shows. The change has been dramatic, to say the least.
 
Seeing her remarkable change was one of the major events that inspired me to put all of my effort into helping others with their anxiety.
 
The way I saw it – if I could genuinely help someone who has dealt with years of abusive relationships, decades of antidepressant use and a lifetime of fear and anxiety – I could help others too.

I began offering advice online – on forums, health-related websites and other places people went for help. I also began offering help to those in my local community.
 
My drive to help others manage and overcome their anxiety has only increased over the years.
 
 

The Journey Now

 
Today it’s been over 15 years since I stopped taking prescription meds for anxiety.
 
At this point in my life, I am rarely ever anxious. I literally can not remember the last time I had a panic attack. I have brief moments of anxiety on rare occasions, which is a part of the unpredictability of life, but I am freed from the constant, debilitating anxiety filled with obsessive worry, fear, and dread.
 

That is one of the main reasons I created Profound Anxiety Solutions – to eliminate years of trial and error for others and simply provide what works. 

After helping myself, my family, friends and those in my community – our website is the next logical step. This site allows us to reach more people in need of support and advice for their anxiety than we could ever hope to reach in person.
 
We sincerely hope you use the information that we provide to manage and overcome your own anxiety. You can also join our community on Facebook or contact us anytime.
 
As I said before you are not alone. Sometimes having the support of others that have been where you are now or that are currently dealing with similar issues can be an incredibly powerful thing.
 
Sometimes just having a friendly ear to listen and knowing you are not alone can be the greatest medicine of all…
 
Wishing You Peace,
Robert Miller
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