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Hope and Help for Your Nerves Mass Market Paperback – September 4, 1990
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“A revolutionary new method for overcoming fear and tension...I recommend it with my whole heart.”—Ann Landers
About the Author
Dr. Claire Weekes was the author of the bestselling self-help books Hope and Help for Your Nerves and Peace from Nervous Suffering. Best known for her pioneering work in the study of nervous illness and anxiety, Dr. Weekes lectured at psychiatric hospitals in Britain and spoke often on radio and television both in Britain and in the United States. She passed away in 1990.
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Over the years these episodes have continued and for so long I used modern terminology to describe them, such as major depressive episode and other DSM terms. I would spend days and days searching the internet, reading blogs, articles and more and NEVER NEVER finding anything that sounded like what I was going through. I heard a lot about disorders, like GAD and it all pointed to mental illness. I have tried to avoid anti-depressants my whole life as wish to see if this pain has a purpose, and I do not wish to block it, but recently had decided to begin on a series due to how exhausted I was with a recent episode that has been on and off for a month. For so long I waded through my sub-conscious, sought therapy, dug into my childhood, analyzed and analyzed and analyzed everything desperate to discover the cause and the root of this demon within. Just when I felt like I understood something, some new aspect of the problem would present itself and it was all back to the beginning.
For me, I never related to the panic attacks that I heard a lot about. There seemed to be a blurred line, but I never felt like I was dying, or like my heart was going to explode. I had cold sweats, and racing pulse, and heart beating out of my chest, but it lasted for hours, not minutes and panic attacks didn't sound like what I had, although MENTALLY I was in a full on panic often. This book clarifies the difference and the reasons why they are the same.
I offer this story because I believe after reading this book, that I was never alone. Due to the complexity of terms now and the fact that so much is simply labeled mental illness and disorders there is no help to be found for FACING our problems and our anxiety, just new ways to label things and new medications to help us not feel. The truth is that often times those who suffer from this illness are beautiful souls who feel the depth of beauty in this world more acutely than many others and this sensitivity is why they love so deeply, feel the pain of others as if it were their own and why they are the poets, artists, dreamers, inventors, who taste the stuff of God in every breath, yet these powers when out of balance can create madness and chaos because of our sensitivity. Understanding such factors as the sympathetic nervous system being out of balance and the anxiety finding fuel in thinking patterns that are destructive was huge for me. To learn to let a thought float, to accept it, and pass through it, no matter how uncomfortable it was was pure poetry to understand. In time I learned that this anxiety was a messenger, and the message had grown so loud as to be deafening because I had ignored the whispers, the quiet pleas, and the loud protestations of my inner life and the deeper hidden feelings for far too long. When the anxiety came, I learned to view it as a welcome guest, here to deliver a precious gift to me. For the first time I stopped fighting and learning to bring no hatred, denial, or rage to my anxiety, but instead to bring compassion and curiosity to it. Once this dynamic was changed, everything changed.
This book stands apart from ANYTHING else I have yet found. I am sure there is other useful material out there, but please get this book if you struggle with any kind of deep anxiety. We know how much this can hurt, and how it can be truly living hell to endure. Worse than all else, anxiety changes the very way we see the world, blurring the truth and clouding needed judgement. Please begin the process of getting the help you need from a doctors whose life work lives on in each of us. Her love is plain, her concern so deeply felt even in the way she writes. She knows what it is to endure this, somehow she knows and more than this she gives the way out for those who are able to realize the truth of her words.
You are not alone. Remember it is often your beauty which can turn too deeply inward and creates fear which when met with a serious problem/conflict can result in a nervous explosion. This is the way out, along with love from others, and the help of God where faith is already in place. I deeply hope that all might find a way to welcome this very challenging problem and the pain it brings as a wonderful gift and invite it in and cease to do battle with it. This is the beginning of all change I believe, to cease to war, and to insist that even the most painful experiences carry with them the light of deeper truth, and are in fact gifts from the recesses we may have long ago abandoned.
May you be blessed on the journey and I very much hope this book can help you begin or take another step as it did me.
This past summer, I was in the WORST anxiety phase of my life. For 4 months, I could not leave the house alone because the world would spin and my legs would freeze. Simple things like walking, taking a shower, even going downstairs to get the mail became impossible without assistance because I felt like I would fall or faint. It wasn't social anxiety...strangely, I've never had that...just health anxiety and dizziness. I learned from this book that the inability to leave the house or walk without hanging onto a person or a wall was agoraphobia.
Every anxiety book I've ever read felt cold and clinical and didn't seem to cover exactly the sort of anxiety I was experiencing. There was always something missing, something that wouldn't click for me. This books takes care of all of the forms of anxiety because it all comes from the same malfunction; the same way we've programmed our minds to have anxious responses to various scenarios (my words not hers). This book makes it personal. Dr. Weekes sounds, in my head, like a kindly older lady. She uses cute old-fashioned lingo here and there and it's very calming to read.
After reading the few pages about agoraphobia, I was able to take myself out of the house, ALONE, for several hours. I had a problem crossing streets because my legs would freeze and the world would seem to spin. She covered that, too! I just repeated in my head what she'd said I should tell myself: "Jelly Legs will still get you there!" And it worked! I was still a little nervous as I got used to being normal again, but something about a sweet lady's voice in your head talking about jelly legs takes the edge off.
As far as panic attacks...everyone will have a mantra or technique that's a little different, but when I began to feel one coming on and had the thought that I was about to have one, I would grab hold of my chair and think, all tough-sounding, "So what? Let's have a panic attack. BRING IT ONNN!" And then I wouldn't really have one. Because you cannot make yourself have a panic attack. You have a panic attack because you're afraid of having a panic attack.
A couple weeks of this, and I was back to normal. My brain must have un-programmed those fear responses I'd developed. Like how I'd become afraid of escalators. I mean, really? I've gone on them my whole life. But because one day I'd had a panic attack on one, I trained myself to believe I couldn't go on them. Or driving on the freeway. I just drove 5,000 miles last spring, and two months later, I was afraid of driving? Made no sense logically. Knowing that did nothing for my anxiety. You can't really reason with it, you just have to invite it and let it roll over you. I am all better now. With the exception of this one particular freeway with these tunnels that always freaked me out even before the panic. I did make myself drive on it recently, and did have a big panic attack...probably because I knew I would and the driving attacks are the worst. But that's the only panic attack I've had since I got better 4 months ago. And, to be fair, it is a horrible freeway where people drive like speed-demon jerkfaces.
Anyway. This book. It's such a comfort, and I see why it's helped so many people over the years. It doesn't look at your "issue" as some overly-complex thing that needs addictive medication or years of therapy. Benzodiazepam medication like Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan MAKE YOU WORSE because their withdrawal, even after a week of usage, causes more anxiety! Doctors need to start warning patients about that...it makes me so angry to see people dependent on them for years.
I digress. This more like talking to your wise granny than being analyzed by a doctor. (I have no idea if Dr. Weekes was an old lady when she wrote this; that's just how I hear her in my mind) Get the book. It fixed me in a few pages.
An online search revealed this book to me I read through it looking for the instant cure. Guess what? There isn't one.
What this book does is essentially tell you that, and then gives you simple steps to follow to overcome anxiety and phobias. These are simple on paper, but you need to work. You need to put yourself in the situation that scares you and learn to manage the thoughts and feelings that appear (usually fear).
Think of this book like a sweet old grandmother (I don't know how old she was, but she died in 1990) walking you through desensitization therapy. Her writing style is somewhat old-fashioned, but easy to follow.
Here's the thing: so many books about conquering anxiety either cite her or borrow heavily from her methods.
'Dare', a recent book has mentioned her and incorporated her technique.
'The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook' by Dr. Bourne talks about her directly.
I'm only beginning my journey through getting rid of my phobia, but for me, this has been six bucks well spent.