Jim Folk’s Anxiety Disorder Recovery Story

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated May 16, 2021

jim folk's anxiety disorder recovery story

Jim Folk's 12-Year Battle With Severe Anxiety and Panic Disorder

My struggle with anxiety disorder started in the summer of 1975. I had just turned 21.

Up to that point, I was living a normal 21-year-old life: was hanging out with friends, had a steady girlfriend, played sports, had a day job, enjoyed fast cars, and played in a band. Life to that point was good.

While I knew I was a bit of a worrier, it never stopped me from doing what everyone else was doing. I had no experiences with troublesome anxiety up until one night.

While talking with a few friends after a late-night party, I suddenly had an out-of-the-blue powerful sensation that I had never experienced before. I started sweating, my heart started racing, I felt nauseous, became lightheaded, felt like I was about to have a complete physical and mental breakdown, and felt terror like never before.

Since I was just relaxing and talking, this strong rush of intense dread took me completely by surprise. I remember thinking, “Whoa, what’s happening? Am I having a total breakdown? Am I having a major medical event?”

It startled me, yes, but because it passed in a few minutes, I was able to settle myself down quickly. About fifteen minutes later, I felt fine again, albeit a bit drained and shaken. Because it stopped so quickly, I shrugged it off as the after-effects of a busy party day. Soon after, I put it out of my mind and moved on.

A few weeks later, I began to get intermittent stomach problems. Nothing major. Bloating, nausea, a feeling of tightness, and a “heaviness” in the stomach feeling that was accompanied by bowel irritation—but bothersome nonetheless. After several tests, my doctor told me it was nothing more than a nervous stomach. His prescription was to go home and relax. Okay, I thought. I can do that. But it didn’t help. My stomach problems not only continued; they got worse—and became more frequent.

That same year, an exciting opportunity came along: the chance to join a new band and become a professional musician. It would mean leaving my family’s business and moving to a new city. Since the musicians in the band were world-class, it really had the potential for success. (The band became Streetheart.)

After six months of preliminary meetings with the manager and everyone in the band, things looked good. They offered me the opportunity to play with them. That meant I had to make a decision.

I wanted to say “yes,” but there was a problem. My father was ill. If I left the family business, there would be no one to help him run it.

On the one hand, it was a great opportunity. I loved music, and the chance to play with these fine musicians was a once in a lifetime opportunity. On the other, I’d be leaving my father and the family business in a tough spot.

As the deadline for a decision approached, I was feeling the pressure to make a decision. That’s when my mother quietly asked me to stay and work in the family business until my father was better. Once he was better, she said, I could resume my music career.

The deadline arrived. Not wanting to leave my family in the lurch, I chose to temporarily pass on the offer from the band and stay with the family business for the short term. The band’s manager, Gary Stratychuk, was a good friend of mine. We agreed to keep in touch and keep some options open until my dad’s health returned. I then refocused on taking more responsibility for the family business so that my dad could take some time off and get better.

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In addition to taking on more responsibility for the family business, I became the president of the Regina Autobody Association. Between the two, I was feeling somewhat stressed. Consequently, my stomach problems became worse. But I persevered thinking I could handle all of the extra responsibilities.

The rest of that year was filled with an upset stomach, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhea, shooting chest pains, and lots of antacids.

In 1976, my stomach problems continued. Later that year, I proposed to my soon-to-be wife. With everything going on in my life, I found myself so busy and so emotionally engaged that, without my even being aware of it, my nerves were being wound tighter. I had no time to rest because of the many things I had on the go. I was maxing out my energy level every day. And, still dealing with persistent stomach and digestive problems.

During that year, I’d become extremely ill after eating, sometimes spending hours in the bathroom trying not to vomit, dry heaving, or sitting on the toilet.

Over and over, my doctor told me the same thing. “It’s just a nervous stomach. Go home and relax.” But that wasn’t good enough anymore: my stomach problems were disrupting my life.

After every meal, I would be sick for hours until just the thought of eating made me sick. And vomiting was such a negative experience for me that I became afraid of being sick and vomiting (emetophobia).

I felt trapped. I was sick all the time, I was afraid of being sick all the time, and yet there was no way to stop it. My doctor’s recommendations weren’t working.

I couldn’t understand what was going on. I began to worry that my doctor must have missed something because everything he had me try didn’t work. Maybe I had undetected stomach cancer. Surely, stress couldn’t be the cause, not with symptoms this severe and persistent!

Even after more medical tests (gastroscopy, barium swallow, glucose tolerance, etc.), the results were the same. “Everything’s normal, Jim. Just go home and relax,” my doctor calmly repeated.

This state of affairs continued for some time. My constant fear of being sick combined with my concerns about what might be causing my stomach problems...and meanwhile, the demands on my time also increased. With a wedding right around the corner, the pressures of the family business, and my responsibilities to the industry association, the stress was relentless. But I still thought I could manage it. Not only that, I thought I was supposed to manage it and just cope with all of the symptoms.

And then a whole new set of symptoms appeared: weak legs, numbness, dizziness, blurred vision, a heart that raced and pounded or “flip-flopped” in my chest. Sometimes I’d sweat heavily for no reason. The list of strange sensations went on and on, and continued to grow. Every time I experienced one, it would scare me. I’d go back to the doctor, over and over again, desperate to figure out what was going on, and always got the same diagnosis: “We can’t find anything wrong with you. Go home and relax.”

I often thought, my symptoms are the reason I’m stressed. If I could just get rid of them, I’d be fine again. But no matter what I did, and no matter how much I relaxed, my symptoms persisted. Over time, they became worse and more frequent.

One night while lying on the couch, relaxing with my fiancée, I suddenly felt like I was dropping as if in an elevator. I immediately thought, What was that? I’d never felt anything like that before. Now I was sure my doctor had missed something serious. Only a serious medical condition could cause a sensation like that. What if I have a brain tumor? I thought. What if I die from this because the doctors missed something? What if it gets far worse and there’s nothing I can do to stop it? What if it ruins my life?

These thoughts terrified me, and in that instant, all of my sensations and symptoms intensified. My heart rate doubled. I began to shake uncontrollably. I felt dizzy. My hands and feet went numb. My stomach was up in my throat. I had pins and needles all over. I couldn’t think straight. And then, I felt that terror feeling again. But this time, it didn’t stop.

I was convinced I was having a serious medical event and was dying. The thought of that terrified me even more, intensifying everything! Believing I was in mortal danger, I asked my fiancée to rush me to the hospital.

When we got there, I sat in the waiting room for an hour or so, and during that time, my fear and strange sensations began to subside. After a brief examination, I was told there was nothing wrong with me and (once again) that I should go home and relax.

I didn’t believe that assessment. I was sure they must have missed my true—and quite possibly terminal!—illness. How could someone feel so horrible and have everything be normal? But I had no choice but to go home and try to cope.

Months went by. My feelings, sensations, and symptoms, though perhaps not quite as intense, continued off and on. I knew there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t the doctors, with all their tests, figure it out? Still, I didn’t want to seem like a hypochondriac, so I didn’t press the issue and pushed on.

In October 1977, we were married. Things improved for a while, but every now and then, episodes of feeling ill returned, sometimes in full force; and over a few months, those episodes increased. I began to get sick at family gatherings, at work, in meetings, at parties, while visiting friends, while shopping, at the beach, while driving—almost everywhere. The only time I felt better was when I was at home relaxing. And when I say better, I don’t mean I felt normal with no symptoms. I mean the strong waves of symptoms were less intense.

The fear and questions about my illness were always with me. Since I was getting “sick” almost everywhere, I began to get very anxious before I went out, worried I would get sick and have to rush home.

Many of those who knew me couldn’t understand. Some said things like, “Pull up your socks and get on with things!” or “Be a man about it, it can’t be that bad.”

Others said I was becoming a hypochondriac, that my “illness” was all in my head. Some became impatient with me because I had to leave family events early or couldn’t show up at all because I felt so sick. Some even accused me of being “antisocial” because I didn’t attend as often as they thought I should.

Now the pressure was coming from all sides. I had to force myself to perform, visit, be social, work, meet—all of the things normal people do easily. But for me, I was a raging mess on the inside with so many “horrible symptoms and feelings” it took everything in me not to explode!

I couldn’t figure out why I was suddenly different. I used to be energetic, outgoing, and fun-loving. I loved being with people. I loved being with family. I was never sick. Now all I wanted to do was stay home so the “sick” feelings weren’t so overpowering.

More doctor appointments. More tests. I was so desperate for an answer that I wanted the doctors to find something wrong with me, just so that I could label it and get better...or die.

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Soon every moment of my day was filled with fear, illness, and questions. I did everything I could to find a way out of the illness in which I was trapped. Even my time at home was no longer relaxing but filled with constant fear and sickness. What had been “episodes of illness” became my new “normal”: I was sick and worried 24/7.

Burning skin, odd body aches and pains, muscle tension, every stomach and digestive symptom you can imagine, chest pains, heart palpitations, choking feeling in my throat, shortness of breath, constant numbness and tingling, brain zaps, chronic fatigue, cold chills then hot flashes, confusion, dizziness, electric shock feelings, more dropping sensations, frequent urination, so much energy I could barely stand it but exhausted at the same time, sleep problems, restless legs, incessant muscle twitching, and so on. I was also now having intermittent panic attacks. It was brutal – a horrible way to live.

Even being home was no longer “safe” from this illness.

In 1978, out of desperation, my wife’s parents took me to a clinic in Mexicali, Mexico, which reportedly did wonders with illnesses like mine. I was nervous about the trip because I didn’t know how I was going to ride in a car for four days without being sick, never mind that they might find exactly what I suspected: a terminal illness. But, because I couldn’t live the way I had been any longer, I went.

At the clinic, the doctor looked at my X-rays and said, “Yeah, I know what it is.” He didn’t tell me what he found but said it wasn’t terminal, and that I should take two medications twice a day until I felt better. He gave me enough pills to last a year and said that if I needed more, I could write and they would send more.

At that point, I didn’t care what I had to do, just so long as I could regain my normal life. Just being told I didn’t have a terminal illness was a big relief, too, and so I left the clinic feeling better. As we headed home, I began to take the medications, which reduced the sensations and symptoms enough for me to forget about my struggles with my “episodes of illness.” That in itself, made me feel better.

Although I wasn’t completely sensation- and symptom-free over the next year, I was certainly much improved. However, one of the side effects of the medications was that I felt exhausted for about three hours whenever I took them, to the point where I often found myself dozing off. I remember being at social gatherings and falling asleep while people were talking. Sometimes it took everything I had not to fall asleep when with others. Still, I thought the side effects were worth not feeling as sick as I had before. At least I was functioning again.

At the end of the first year, when my pills were just about out, I tried to stop taking them. That didn’t work. Three days after I stopped, all the symptoms came back, but much worse than before. So my wife’s parents had friends bring back another year’s supply of pills, and I was okay again.

Another year passed. Again I tried to get off of the pills—and the same thing happened. I decided I had to find out what the pills were and what they were doing. Maybe I could get them locally.

I took them to my doctor, who told me one pill was Librax (a stomach antispasmodic, prescribed for anxiety and spasms associated with gastrointestinal problems – a component of that medication is a benzodiazepine) and the other was Stelazine (a powerful antipsychotic, prescribed for psychotic disorders and anxiety). My doctor said that if they helped, he could prescribe them, so after that, I got them locally.

But over the next year, the pills began to be less effective. I was also getting fed up with being tired every time I took them. I was also getting tired of the other side effects, such as a super itchy and tingly scalp. I had to find a better way to deal with my illness—whatever it was. I couldn’t picture being on drugs my whole life.

That’s when I started my research. I revisited my doctor. He said that I should get off the drugs because they were highly addictive and try something else. He gave me Tagament to control my stomach problems, which didn’t help. He then tried a new tranquilizer on the market called Xanax (2 mgs three times a day). It helped somewhat, but had annoying side effects; still, out of desperation, I continued with it. Whenever I stopped taking my “medication,” I quickly returned to feeling really sick.

Up to that point, no one told me what I had. The only information I deduced was that my nervous stomach was causing all of this. So, I thought the Xanax was to settle my stomach. No one told me my intense episodes of “illness” were panic attacks.

My doctor also suggested I see a psychiatrist who could help me with my stress. Since things weren’t improving, I was open to trying anything, and so I visited my first psychiatrist on his referral.

After the first few sessions, I didn’t think there was any reason to continue, so I went on to psychiatrist number two. He was worse than the first. Neither of them told me anything helpful or provided a diagnosis: they were just teaching me to relax, and that wasn’t enough.

A weekend “Mind Awareness” seminar taught me to meditate. That helped, but it still didn’t stop the episodes of illness or the panic attacks.

For two more years, I was “sick” off and on and sought answers. I consulted numerous self-help books. I tried multiple vitamin therapies. I changed my diet. I tried a variety of relaxation techniques. I gathered countless opinions. I kept notes: did I eat too much salt, did I drink enough water, did I eat too much sugar, was there a weather change, etc.

And through it all, I suffered innumerable panic attacks, made multiple visits to the doctor, more trips to the ER, and underwent endless medical tests. What with the confusion, frustration, and constant living in fear, I was exhausted and spent. The only thing I wanted to do was stay home and sleep (if I could). But with a business, family, and other responsibilities, that was impossible.

I didn’t want to do anything except stay home. I then began to have a hard time driving long distances. For instance, my in-laws had cottages at a nearby lake, about an hour from Regina. We’d often be invited out for the day or weekend. That was nice of them, but because I was having so many symptoms, including intense dizzy spells and panic attacks, I couldn’t go. I tried to go numerous times. But even if I was able to drive the distance, I was so sick trying to manage it, the experience wasn’t pleasant but just one more “visit” I had to suffer through.

There were times when we’d get the family loaded and head out on the highway, only for me to have to turn around and go home. Eventually, my wife and kids ended up going by themselves while I stayed home “on the couch.”

Overtime, my panic attacks were so bad, my driving radius was to the family business and back home – about 10 minutes distance. That’s all I could manage and even that was a challenge.

That’s when the dizziness really set in. I woke up with dizziness, which I often had, but this time it didn’t subside. I became dizzy 24/7. While the dizziness persisted, I often had waves of more intense dizziness that were unbearable. The dizziness made everything much worse, including panic attacks.

The dizziness became so pervasive that turning my head too quickly caused a wave so intense that it triggered a panic attack. I couldn’t bend over to pick anything up. I couldn’t watch traffic pass by because it would also produce a strong increase and a panic attack. I couldn’t watch anything fast moving on TV. I couldn’t get up quickly or roll over quickly. Sitting in traffic was unbearable because of the movement. I couldn’t take being in a crowd, standing in line, and even getting a haircut was almost impossible to bear because of the intense waves of dizziness and panic.

There were days when I had 40 to 50 panic attacks only to wake up the next morning for them to start all over again. This restricted my driving even more. Just the thought of getting in the car brought panic.

It got to the point where everything I did caused a panic attack: going for a walk, talking to anyone, standing in line at the grocery store (if I even got there), watching TV, playing with my children, doing yard work, and so on. My life became one big panic attack.

Because they seemed so out of control, I feared going to restaurants, to the mall, to the grocery store…to anywhere. I was almost house-bound because of the uncontrollable fear and symptoms.

Numerous nights I paced the floor because I could barely stand how sick I was. Numerous mornings I spent dry heaving in the bathroom while the family slept. It was a living nightmare with no moments of peace or a break from my symptoms.

I also had “crazy thought” symptoms, where I feared I might lose control and stab my children, suffocate my wife, steer into oncoming traffic (when I mustered the courage to drive), or worse, kill myself. Of course, they weren’t things I wanted to do, but my brain continually proposed, “What if you…?” The threat seemed so real I became afraid of my very thoughts because they seemed totally out of control and bizarre at the same time.

Tunnel vision, depersonalization, emotional flipping and blunting, ringing in the ears, kaleidoscope vision, eyes sensitive to light, after effects vision, hyper-sensory stimulation, memory problems, skin-crawling, concentration problems, incessant mind chatter, OCD thinking, worry beyond belief, and so many more.

Eventually, I had every symptom we list at our website, with the majority to severe degrees. We list them all because I had them all.

It got to the point where I could no longer trust my body or my mind. I felt like I was locked in a prison of fear and symptoms with no way out. Worse yet, I couldn’t escape them because they were in me. I had no safe place to go to. I truly felt trapped!

Then, the depression set in. I was now anxious and depressed!

Many of my family and friends didn’t see my real struggle because I did the best I could to conceal it. Even my wife didn’t know the depth of my struggle, even though she got a good glimpse of it from time to time.

I was embarrassed that I was so sick. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t get better no matter what anyone did or no matter what I took. Nothing helped. I felt I was truly trapped in an illness with no way out. I often struggled with imagining having to live the rest of my life this way.

I became so bad that I reached the point where I couldn’t continue to force myself to live with my “illness.” I was at the end of my rope, and so was my wife. I contemplated suicide numerous times as a way to end the 24/7 agony. But whenever I looked at my family, I knew I couldn’t go that route. And I wasn’t a quitter. I was a fighter, but the constant battle had gotten the best of me. I always knew deep down that suicide wasn’t a realistic option, but the fact I even considered it shows how desperate I had become.

It got so bad that I began to think I was losing my mind. In addition to all of the symptoms, I was having wild dreams and wild hallucinations. Even remembering familiar phone numbers became problematic. My short-term memory became so bad I often couldn’t remember what I ate just 20 minutes ago. I was sure I was going insane. Everything felt wrong.

I kept asking myself questions. Why can’t I live a normal life like everyone else? Why am I house-bound? Why can’t I get through this? Why doesn’t anyone in the medical profession know what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get better? Do I have to live the rest of my life like this? Am I going to go crazy and kill myself? Why is God punishing me this way? What have I done to deserve this horror?

My family kept suggesting that I should just accept my illness and live on medication for the rest of my life. They said that other people had to and maybe I did, too.

Well, that wasn’t good enough for me. I knew I had to figure this thing out if I were to have any chance to live a normal life again. My wife kept on saying, “Why do you always have to figure things out? Just accept that you’ll have to take medication for the rest of your life and get on with things!” I knew that what she said made sense, but it just wasn’t good enough for me. I had to find a solution. I was determined to not just exist in the hell I was in.

After talking with my doctor AGAIN because I needed yet another refill of my “medication,” he finally said to me, “Jim, you have anxiety. Since your dad has it, it’s probably genetic and runs in the family, and you’ll just have to live with it, too. Take your medication and resign yourself to the fact that you’ll have to take it for the rest of your life.”

I could have done that had the medication actually worked. But I was taking it and still felt horrible. I thought, how was that any way to live?!

As my illness continued to stifle our lives, my wife said to me in desperation, “If you don’t do something about this, I’m not sure I can live with you anymore.” I don’t blame her. She had endured enough. Frankly, we were both at our wit’s end. After years of being impacted by my struggle with no end in sight, who wouldn’t finally have enough? It’s a testament to her patience that she lasted even that long. But even hers was finally running out.

My struggle also affected my children. I felt so badly for them. Even though I tried my best to be with them and be a good father, either I was sick and could barely interact with them or so frustrated with being sick that I had no patience. At that point, life was awful…and that’s a gross understatement. Looking back, I don’t know how I lasted that long.

I remember standing in our living room one day and looking out the window onto the street thinking, “I’m locked in a prison of fear and sickness while everyone else is living their lives normally. How is this fair? Who should have to live this kind of hell?”

Out of desperation, I said, “God, if you are real, either you help me get out of this, or I'm going to kill myself. I'm tired of this and can't take anymore. But, if you help me, I'll do whatever I can to help others for the rest of my life."

For two weeks, nothing happened. I was still sick and seemingly hopelessly and helplessly trapped in fear and illness with a multitude of 24/7 symptoms.

In what I believe was an answer to that prayer, in the third week, my wife said she had a friend who was suffering from something similar and found success with a stress psychologist that was new to Regina. My wife recommended that I make an appointment with him to see if he could help me.

That was in 1985. That’s when I met Dr. Bart Jessop. He explained to me that I had something called severe anxiety and panic attack disorder. He was also able to explain why I felt so poorly for so long, and what I could do to improve my condition.

One of the biggest “ah-ha” moments, however, came when he asked me to fill out a personality profile. Upon reviewing my answers, he said, “Your biggest problem is that you are a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. You aren’t going to make it.”

He said that I was a creative personality, and that was directly opposite to the job I was doing. He said I needed to reconsider what I was doing in my life and align myself to my personality. I couldn’t disagree with him because I felt that way for years…ever since I traded my music career to help out the family business. But my physical recovery came first.

It was his help, combined with all the research I did that finally headed me in the right direction.

After 11 years of illness, confusion, fear, and frustration, I discovered that I didn’t have a terminal illness and that I could regain my normal health. All of a sudden, all of the pieces fell into place. I finally understood what I was dealing with—and created a plan to get better. I could finally see the light at the end of what had been a terribly long tunnel.

Even so, as I started to implement my recovery plan, it soon became evident recovery was going to take a lot longer than I had thought. Each day I had questions that remained unanswered. Fortunately, Dr. Jessop was patient. He answered the questions he could, and even when he couldn’t provide answers, he always provided reassurance, which encouraged me to continue despite the lack of progress.

For example, I would ask him, “I’ve been practicing my deep relaxation for a month already, so why do I still have symptoms?”

He would say, “That’s because the body can take a long time to recover. You have to be patient.”

I would work at it for another week or so; then I’d call him again and say, “Okay, I’ve given it more time, but I’m still not feeling much better. Why not?”

He’d say, “Your body still requires more time. Keep up your work and continue to be patient.”

A week later, I’d call him again and ask the same kinds of questions. He finally said, “Alright, let’s put a stake in the ground. It takes about 90 days of faithful practice before you might notice a difference. Keep doing what you are doing for 90 more days and let’s talk again after that.”

Sure enough, about a week before the 90-day mark, I noticed a slight difference. I finally had proof that what I was doing was working. That gave me the confidence and determination to continue.

At about the six-month mark, I really saw a change. It wasn’t as pronounced as I had hoped, but it was enough to show me I was headed in the right direction.

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At about that time, I came across the book, “Hope And Help For Your Nerves” by Dr. Claire Weekes. It confirmed what I had discovered on my own. This information helped me deal with my panic attacks, which I was still getting.

At about the one-year mark, there was a significant difference. I still had some symptoms, including panic attacks, but they were far less intense and much easier to live with. The biggest change for me, however, was the recognition that I could regain my normal health by doing what I was doing. That in itself made a world of difference. I was no longer afraid of my sensations and symptoms, and no longer questioning my sanity or health. I knew I was on the right track.

That didn’t mean I still didn’t have panic attacks and some symptoms. I did, and some were doozies! But I was able to settle myself enough to have them ease off and go back down to being tolerable.

This was also the time when I decided to come off of Xanax. I recognized I didn’t have complete ability to calm myself. I thought that the Xanax was preventing me from being in complete control of my body. Since I felt I needed that complete control, I needed to stop the Xanax.

To stop the Xanax, I had learned that I needed to taper off slowly. So, I tried that first. Over several months, I got myself down to .25 mg of Xanax once a day from 2 mg three times a day. Once I “stabilized” at .25 mg per day, I stopped altogether.

That didn’t work. About three days after the break, I was a wreck again. So, back on the Xanax.

I made numerous attempts to quit, to no avail. I found that all of my sensations and symptoms spiked after three to five days of being off the benzo, which forced me to go back on.

But after many, many unsuccessful attempts, I thought I was finally prepared enough to persevere with the break. In early 1987, I made my final break. The first 4 days were okay, but days 5 through 12 were hell. Two of those days, I jogged all day because I couldn’t stand the intense symptoms.

Finally, after three weeks of intense symptoms, my body cleared the medication and made the necessary adjustments. As my body settled down, I felt much better. In fact, much, much better. The big difference was that I was finally back in control of calming my body down when I wanted to. That had never happened while on the benzo. It felt great to be finally clear of both anxiety disorder and medication. In the summer of 1987, I was finally free!

That didn’t mean I still didn’t have a few symptoms and the odd panic attack. I did. But I was able to shut down the panic attack quickly, so they were of no concern. Throughout the rest of that year, all of my symptoms subsided, and so did my panic attacks.

For a while, I still carried my Xanax with me, “just in case.” But I never used it again. Eventually, I threw the pills away, and I haven’t looked back.

Later in 1987, I stopped working in the family business and restarted my music passion. Changing careers in my thirties with a family, with no guarantee of success was big stress, but no anxiety issues or attacks.

In 1989, I formed a business partnership creating original music for television and film (Audio Image Productions). The work, time pressures, and responsibilities rolled in. I had to manage my time as a father, husband, composer, music producer, and performing musician. Big stress again, but still no anxiety issues or attacks.

In 1990, our business grew and went through many changes. My business partner and I created “Talking Dog Post & Sound Studios,” a full music production facility. Again, significant stress; but still, no anxiety issues or attacks.

In 1993, we had our busiest year to date – lots of work, lots of pressure, lots of deadlines, and long, long workdays. Big stress, yet again, no anxiety issues or attacks.

In 1995, our company grew again, a change that required extensive planning and brought new challenges and new business partners. As well, my wife and I separated, and along with that all of the challenges of a disintegrating relationship and family. Once more, it all added up to big stress, yet I still had no anxiety issues or attacks.

In 1996, we expanded our company again – more deadlines, responsibilities, and business pressures. And, I was still a single father at 43 with three teenage daughters at home. The combination of a successful expanding business with the financial and parenting pressures at home created intense stress. Despite it all, I suffered no anxiety issues or attacks.

During this time, I also helped people with anxiety disorder via a booklet, hosting a support group, and eventually creating the website panicattack-help.com. From 1995 to 2002, I answered emails about anxiety from people from around the world. Because I had suffered with intense anxiety for so many years and understood the hardship it can cause, I was passionate about helping others. I also wanted to fulfill my promise to God (in case He existed).

In 2002, I left the business group I had been involved with and started anxietycentre.com. That work has carried me to today.

Ever since I recovered, my life has continued to be challenged by change and the unknown. But, I’m proud to say, not by anxiety issues or attacks.

I’ve worked hard by putting in long workdays. And sometimes, I’d work for weeks at a time without a day off. While I did see a return of some symptoms of stress, I was able to quickly eliminate them using the strategies that I learned and now share at our website.

For those of you who are in the midst of an anxiety disorder, there is hope. There is relief. You can return to normal health…for good. I believe if I can do it, so can you.

Honoring my commitment to God for helping me overcome anxiety disorder, I'll continue to help anxiety disorder sufferers as long as He enables me able to do that. Anxietycentre.com is that commitment.

Today, Marilyn (my wife) and I are joined by many anxiety disorder therapists who have similar stories and who are equally passionate about helping people overcome anxiety disorder (and other mental health challenges). We do this work because we care for people, and we know that anxiety disorder can be overcome by getting the right information, help, and support.

Many people have traveled the road to anxiety disorder recovery over the years. The strategies we help our clients learn and apply, work time and time again. Anxiety disorder is no longer a mystery, and neither is recovery.

Once again, if we can do it, and so many others have as well...so can you! We’d be honored to partner with you on your journey to anxiety disorder-free living.

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All of us at anxietycentre.com have personally experienced and successfully overcome anxiety disorder, we are all medication-free and have been for years. This can be your expectation, too, if you are willing to do the work.

We’re not going to mislead you and suggest the work is easy…because it might not be. For me, it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever had to do. But it is the work that sets us free from anxiety disorder.

It’s sad enough that I wasted 12 years of my life to anxiety disorder. It’s even sadder that it could have all been prevented had I been given the right information and help right at the beginning. I could have been through it all in a matter of months rather than years.

This is the reason we do what we do: to fulfill my commitment to God and to prevent needless long-term suffering by getting our clients the right information and help. It breaks my heart to see so many people suffering when they don’t have to.

I hope my story encourages you, so that you, too, will overcome your struggle with anxiety disorder. Life is too short to waste any of it being sick with anxiety.

NOTE: Even though this is a lengthy recount of my experience with anxiety disorder, it barely touches the surface of what I actually went though. If you are struggling with anxiety disorder, I’m sure you know what I mean.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Visit our Anxiety Disorders Signs And Symptoms article.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Jim Folk's Anxiety Disorder Recovery Story.