13 December 2017

Fake Stories of Success and Recovery

I've done this many times before, and today I was at it again. I have a compulsive need to search for effective ways to treat or manage anxiety. I've been doing this for almost 10 years now.

Searching the web, I've read more articles and blog posts about anxiety than I can remember. I've read hundreds of success stories of people who apparently fought their way out of the mess that is anxiety and related disorders.
There are many, many websites full of tips and lengthy articles on how to deal with anxiety and countless 'testimonials' to the effectiveness of the methods. I've trawled through scores of them for years looking for 'answers'. An incredible number of people claiming to have 'recovered' or 'managed' their anxiety either by simple changes in their diet, habits, and, wait for it: positive thinking, or through a course under a "life-coach" (blech!!).

On all those too good to be true and 'you can too' success stories, I call BS. 

For example: A 'survivor' begins his story by telling us how good his life was. He claims he had a near-perfect life: a good relationship/marriage, a well-paying job, good physical health, and everything else you can imagine. Then, he says, he got hit by anxiety so hard that he struggled to keep his career, wrecked his relationship, and made a mess of everything else along the way. However, our miserable character miraculously managed to recover and is now thriving again! And he says, "If I can, YOU can, too!". He goes on to list down several 'tips' that you could try and 'get the life you want' and live happily ever after. Incredibly, many of those 'survivors' became therapists (read, successful businessmen) themselves! Many of them have written best-selling books on how to fight anxiety (rolling eyes!).

The more I read these stories, the more I'm convinced that they are all fake to begin with. Most of them are shameless sales pitches for their 'products' and 'programs'; some direct, others not so much. Not surprisingly, these sites are plastered with adverts featuring a variety of anxiety clinics, drugs, books, and yoga and meditation courses. 
Even blogs from seemingly independent individuals not directly associated with these commercial websites look suspicious to me. They all reek of fiction, and fishing for advert clicks seems to be their only motive. 

The story teller claims 'I was just like you' and 'I know how you feel', but I don't trust him. I think not everyone is so lucky or capable, in my opinion, to be able to stick through it through pure grit. The almost miraculous claims also mean that the miracles probably wont happen to you, because that's what they are: miracles. Or you could look at them and think to yourself: 'this person is nothing like me. He was bright, intelligent, and positive to begin with. A real winner. He hit a rough patch along the way, but his innate 'positive-ness' eventually won, and so he is thriving again. I don't see anything in common with him: I'm miserable, negative, and without any real talents. I will never be like him'. So, instead of giving hope, these stories take it away. Are these stories really meant to depress you beyond all hope and eventually drive you to their support programs, books, healing practices, and medications?

At last, today, I wondered if there are any credible stories of anxiety recovery/management out there. Anyone who has ever written about anxiety anywhere on the web seems to have done it for a) web-traffic/clicks and advertisement money, or b) promote their own anti-anxiety businesses. I'm finding it increasingly hard to believe that anyone ever wrote something helpful out of goodness of their heart, to share their true experience so that someone out there might benefit from it. 

For once, I'd like to read a few honest stories from genuine, compassionate people, whose simple motive is to share their experience. 

Thanks for reading!

P.S. A book called 'Feeling Good', by Dr. David Burns, is the closest thing I've seen to genuinely effective advice and techniques. I recommend it honestly, with no benefits to me. Enough said!

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