online conference transcript
Carolyn Dickman, Education Director of the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety.
David: HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. I hope everyone's day has gone well. Our conference tonight is on "Attacking Anxiety and Depression". Our guest was going to be Lucinda Bassett. However, Lucinda contacted me and said she had a personal emergency, and we are lucky because Carolyn Dickman, who works with Lucinda, and actually went through her Attacking Anxiety program, is with us tonight. Her story is very interesting and what she was able to accomplish in treating her severe panic attacks and anxiety (Panic Disorder) will hopefully inspire many of you tonight.
As a youngster, our guest, Carolyn Dickman, was an anxious child. By 13 years of age, she graduated to panic attacks. At the time, no one spoke of panic and anxiety (back in the 1950's). She didn't discover what she suffered with until she was 40. That was 27 long years of not knowing what was wrong.
Intermittently, throughout those years, Carolyn was house bound, travel and vehicle avoidant, prone to bouts of anger and severe depression. She hid it all, even self-medicating with alcohol. It was a secret that "I was dying-or so I thought." It took a long time, but finally Carolyn found some tools that worked for her and she'll be sharing those with us later this evening.
Good Evening, Carolyn and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being here tonight. Even today, there are many people who haven't identified their symptoms as Panic Disorder and who are scared out of their wits by what is happening to them. What was it like for you growing up?
Carolyn: I thought I was the only person on earth with the horrible scary thoughts and feelings of dying every day. The body symptoms lead me to doctors. No one could give me a name for whatever "it" was. I always felt out of touch with family and classmates, feeling something was "wrong" with me.
David: How did you discover that "something," was Panic Disorder?
Carolyn: I had a TV in the kitchen and I was watching it, and I saw Lucinda Bassett talking about body symptoms. I thought, oh dear, she has been sitting on my left shoulder for the past 30 years.
David: Before we get too far into that part of it, I'm wondering what it was like for you, personally and socially, dealing with panic and anxiety, during those early years, teens-20's?
Carolyn: As a teen, I was a great date because I couldn't eat, so I was very inexpensive. I couldn't stay away from home too long, so my parents loved that. I did most things teens and college students do, but with great fear. Fear defined my life and my decisions. I was never at peace, I always questioned my decisions. I was a perfectionist and analytic. People with anxiety disorders, panic disorders, are very clever at designing a life around their disabilities.
David: So, during that time, how did you deal with various situations?
Carolyn: Frankly, I gutted my way through some. I lied my way out of the things I couldn't do, like, go on vacation. "No, too busy." I cried a lot! Prayed a lot! Now, my goal is to help others, so they don't have to go through the pain I did because of ignorance. I have used what happened to motivate me, and hopefully, I can inspire others. If I can overcome this living hell, so can you.
David: We'll be talking more about Carolyn's road to recovery from panic and anxiety disorders. But first, some audience questions:
blusky: Do you believe that anxiety attacks, and the fears that come with it, are a learned behavior?
Carolyn: Yes. I believe it is reasonable to think that some of us were born with a goosey limbic system. However, from my experience we learn our fears and our responses to life. I have a dear friend who was once afraid of elevators. She survived encephalitis, but it wiped out her memory banks and she now loves elevators. I am not suggesting we go in for a sweep, but I truly believe we can replace our mis-beliefs. I have "learned" to fly, travel, do public speaking, the list goes on.
karen5: How long did it take you to control your panic episodes.
Carolyn: As you know, I went through Lucinda Bassett's Attacking Anxiety Program. There are 15 lessons, one per week. The second lesson is on controlling and stopping panic. There must be some justice in the world, because after that lesson, I've never had another panic attack. Now, not all of our participants can say that, some take a bit longer. The key is attaining basic beginning physical comfort, determining no physical illness, and most vital, learning why there is nothing to fear and then losing the fear. Recovery is like an onion with many layers.
irish_iz: Do you know what, if anything, started your panic attacks when you were a teenager. For instance, abuse, dysfunction, etc.
Carolyn: Short answer of what I went through: dry alcoholic, perfectionist, painfully poor, authoritarian, verbal abuse. My sensitivity was high; when the nuns talked about Jesus on the cross, I felt the nails :) There were also many many stressors like moving, illness, etc. It was a rain barrel effect: it doesn't matter if the rain comes from a storm or a shower, if we don't manage the level to evaporate some, one drop will send it overflowing. At 13, I had come to the brim and over, and from then on, it rained :).