My name is Barry Joseph McDonagh and believe it or not, I was the last guy in the world you would expect to experience a panic attack or general anxiety.
“So laid back he might fall over” is how people described me.
Then about to start college year I experienced a spontaneous panic attack! I was sitting in church close to the front when my heart suddenly started pounding like a bass drum in my chest. “WHAT IS GOING ON?” I thought to myself as an awful sense of fear and dread swept over me.
“Am I having a heart attack?”
My heart started pounding so hard I thought it might explode! My chest began to feel really tense and my breathing felt restricted like I was suffocating.
I needed to get out. I excused myself and walked outside for fresh air hoping it would all end. I thought of getting an ambulance to rescue me but the really crazy thing was, that I was too embarrassed to ask a passerby for help! After about 15 minutes the panic attack subsided and I went home really shaking from the experience. It felt like just has a brush with death.
Nowhere now felt safe
I began to fear if this would ever happen again and just the anticipation of a panic attack was enough to bring them on. They started happening in cinemas, at lectures, even while driving my car. Anywhere outside of my comfort zone (which was my home) felt unsafe. In addition to the panic, I developed general anxiety and moved into a state of feeling anxiety 24/7.
My life changed completely. I went from being a totally laid back guy, to someone who was afraid to queue in a bank. The general anxiety made me feel on edge all the time and there were only a few many moments when I felt relaxed.
It reached a point where I knew I had to get help but being a typical Irish male, I resisted asking anybody for help or going to see the my doctor. I was afraid of what people might think and I was terrified of being diagnosed with some kind of mental illness.
I resolved I had to find a solution to this on my own so I began research the different treatment for anxiety. That period of research was incredibly frustrating and disappointing. All the advice I was getting was to either take medications or try a therapy that would help me cope and manage the panic attacks and anxiety. I didn’t want to just cope with this the rest of my life. I wanted to end it!
Every book seemed to have the exact same breathing exercises and coping strategies all designed to distract me in the moment of panic. Let me tell you something… anyone who has experienced a panic attack or high anxiety knows that deep breathing and distraction will not stop a real panic attack. That’s like closing the gate after the horses have bolted. IT JUST DOESN’T WORK but only people who have experienced anxiety, know this.
I think that is the main problem with all the literature out there. It is written from an academic point of view and not from the first hand experience of someone who has been there and done that (with the exception of Dr. Claire Weekes).
I was looking for someone to say, “look do this right, then do this and follow it up with this”. Something simple I could apply and stop feeling so out scared all the time, -all I got was jargon and coping tools.
I had a hunch that this was all wrong, that teaching people to cope and fight against the anxiety was the wrong approach.
The answer came from trying something unorthodox
I decided to ignore all the advice I was reading and to try much more radical approach based on how I observed the panic/anxiety manifesting. So during my next panic attack, I turned everything on its head and had the most amazing insight ever.
I discovered that the panic could in fact be short circuited by doing the complete opposite of what everyone was telling me. By not fighting the anxiety I could free myself from it with the right mental maneuvers.
And it worked, it worked extremely fast. I immediately started putting myself in situations that would trigger panic attacks and I couldn’t even bring one on. That’s how effective this new approach I was using was.
Over the coming months I refined into a technique that was easy to apply then added in components to tackle the general anxiety too. Within a very short period of time my panic was gone and the general anxiety that has been stalking me daily lifted. That technique became know as the 21-7 Technique™.
I formulated all of this into one easy to use program called Panic Away and the rest is history. Panic Away has gone on to become one of the most successful programs for treating panic attacks and general anxiety today.
We have now touched the lives of over 150,000 people.
The results we see are incredible. People don’t write to say ‘thanks it helped it bit’, they write to say how the program has completely transformed their lives for the better. Their anxiety is gone and they like a bigger and stronger person because of it.
These people become living proof that the program works and as a result their health care providers (doctors/therapists) want to learn these techniques for their other patients.
That’s when we decided to embark on a very ambitious goal. What if we could change the way anxiety is being treated the world over. What if we could offer people a real alternative to the traditional model of medications and coping strategies.
That is why we have created ‘Mission 2018’. Our goal is to reach 1 million people suffering from anxiety by the end of 2016 and create so many amazing success stories that the medical establishment has to take notice. If we can transform enough lives, a tipping point will be reached that will propel this approach into mainstream therapeutic care.
I hope you can join with us on that journey and that your success can not only enrich your life but other peoples lives as well.