Over the years of helping many thousands of individuals I just wanted to give you a very small sample of people I have helped in the corporate world
- all names are fictitious for confidentiality but the stories are factual -
John was a seasoned corporate director that had held board posts in very large companies for most of his career. He was now in his early 60's and had taken up a position as a director but in a significantly smaller company that he was used to operating in. John presented to me with feelings of anxiety. What was odd, particularly to John, was that he had never experienced this before and the new company was, as far as he was concerned, not presenting him with any stressful situations that may have led to his condition
His domestic and social life was also balanced so we initially could not identify any stressors at all that may have been presenting themselves to lead to his uncomfortable condition
Fortunately, because of my experience, I had seen this before. In technical terms it is called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I'm not a great fan of the word disorder. Anxiety is a psychologically based condition and can affect the most strong confident individuals (see my next case study). Within a very short time frame of just one week after applying the psychological intervention methods I teach John was free of his anxiety
Paul was ex-SAS, had now retired and presented to me with acute anxiety with some of it circumstantially based i.e. at night in bed he had to have the windows open otherwise he had more potential to suffer a panic/anxiety attack. One thing I have never forgotten about Paul was not only his extremely composed and confident manner but the words he said to me in consultation. He said "Kevin, I'm not afraid of anything or anyone but I can't kill this, I don't know what to do". The reason I relate this particular case story is simply to completely dismiss the fallacy and thoughts that anxiety/stress/depression is a sign of weakness. Here was someone that had been trained mentally and physically to be the top of his game. Why would he suffer with anxiety?
I have seen top corporate executives on burn out/melt down and they are afraid to admit to their work colleagues how they are feeling/suffering simply because they think that they will then be seen as weak and not able to deliver. A stiff upper lip and continuing to swing the bat when you are fatigued, stressed and losing sleep is a recipe for brick wall disaster. Medication is definitely not the solution in my experience by the way, neither is alcohol or drugs
After consultation with Paul we identified what was happening and I gave the tools and methods to Paul to help himself; which he duly did. Within a couple of weeks after a further consultation to check he was on track he was fine
Because of where I'm located, close to Hereford, I have seen more than one ex-SAS person and also their partners too
Fiona was a middle manager in a government security operation, in a responsible position whereby she was called upon to give both large and small presentations. Her 'performance anxiety' had always been a constant for her that she had never been able to conquer which meant that her nerves before and during a presentation always got the better of her. Resulting in " my legs turning to jelly and shaking like Elvis" (for the younger generation look up Elvis Presley on YouTube and watch how he moves his legs when singing) and my mind completely going blank. Performance anxiety particularly related to public speaking is not unusual for me to see. You can probably relate yourself in as much as you want to give a good account of yourself and deliver what you need to but then have potential to create the performance anxiety
Sarah was a very experienced qualified nurse that had a similar experience to Fiona above. She was engaged on cruise ships and because of her wealth of experience was tasked to give a presentation/training to qualified medical professionals (normally GP's). Sarah felt intimidated by those professionals she felt were more senior than her which then affected her ability to train and present. She actually wasn't in any way less professional as she was teaching what she felt were her peers what to do in first aid emergencies
To sum up Fiona and Sarah, Fiona went on to lose her Elvis legs' and Sarah sent me a lovely email to tell me she now looks forward to and enjoys her training and presentations
Howard was a main board director of a well known UK charity, he had travelled back from Mauritius with his family from holiday and suffered a quite severe anxiety/panic attack when the plane had taxied to the airport terminal to disembark but they were not allowed to leave the aircraft straight away. Howard suffered a panic attack whereby he had to get the air stewardess to open the aircraft door so he could see the tarmac. Howard, when he initially contacted me related his panic attack to flying. It was not related to actually flying, it was related to his fear of being in an enclosed space and couldn't 'escape'.
Andy was an ex-forces Marine, CEO of a company and initially contacted me to say he had a fear of flying. This was a man that had parachuted out of aircraft?! His situation was similar to Howard above in as much as that he hadn't got a fear of flying, it was the enclosed space that created/caused the panic/anxiety. Andy increased his level of anxiety too simply because he didn't want to be seen as 'losing the plot' and causing himself embarrassment in front of other people and his family (as with Howard above). Andy had also subsequently begun to relate his anxiety to other circumstantial areas,in particular high bridges like the Avonmouth Bridge on the M5 near Bristol
Both with Howard and Andy their conditions affected their work situation. Part of Howard's remit was to fly away on business and Andy to drive over high bridges. It only took one consultation with Howard, he flew over to Europe within days of the consultation and was fine. Andy took a couple of sessions
It's worth noting how debilitating the above instances can be and how avoidance as a coping strategy only serves to make situations more prominent. One owner of a building company I helped, when confronted with having to attend meetings in multi storey buildings was instrumental in checking the building exits out first and always insisting he was closest to the nearest exit. But then still had to suffer his anxiety whilst in the meeting; which fairly obviously affected his ability to concentrate on the job in hand
Jeremy was the Technical Director of a communications company. My brief with Jeremy was to remove undue stress and any anxiety. I tell the story of Jeremy simply to illustrate how we can potentially stress ourselves and lose sleep because of our thoughts. Jeremy was ex-forces, confident and in an exacting role in the business heading up the department responsible for offering technical support to clients, testing and evaluating new products etc; At the time I saw him,because of the superior technical capability of their comms offering in the market at the time there was a suggestion that it would be employed in a war zone British Forces were operating in at the time
However, the suggestion on the table was that Jeremy and I can only surmise what would have been a small number of SAS personnel would be flown in 'under the radar' .Jeremy being involved simply because of his knowledge of his equipment that they would be using. If they were caught by the enemy in the war zone, no one would know of their presence! Now, I was helping Jeremy with stress at the time!!! so to say this latter suggestion was stressful to him was a huge understatement. The proposal was on the table for a further four weeks but in the end the decision was made not to go. In that period Jeremy lost sleep and worried himself. Which is a real illustration of how much we can worry and stress ourselves and lose sleep about something that then never happens!
Needless to say we put in place intuitive cognitive elements that removed undue and inappropriate stress
Susan was owner of her own business and suffering with health anxiety. -
Just a short note before I relate Susan's story -
Over the years I saw so many people with stress related conditions, fatigue, lack of sleep, IBS, depression, ill health due to anxiety and stress that I put together a program wholly related to that niche. Stress and anxiety and all their related conditions are wholly preventable. You or your business do not have to suffer
Stress and worry are created by thoughts in the individual, it is an internal psychological happening, it is not external to the individual (Although they may think it is). Over stimulation, or an overwhelming flow of stress and
worry thoughts has potential to compound itself which then has potential to create anxiety. In my experience once anxiety has been created then it has to have the correct psychological intervention to remove it and also to prevent the anxiety ever happening again. Health anxiety, in my experience, as with Susan and increased circumstantial anxiety then has greater potential to realise itself i.e.the anxiety increases in stature and circumstances - leaving the individual feeling helpless, fearful and very scared. I've had individuals suffer panic attacks so severe that caused them to think they were having a stroke or heart attack only to find when the paramedics arrive that it was just an anxiety/panic attack. They are very real and can be very scary, particularly the initial one
..........back to Susan. Susan presented to me with severe health anxiety. To illustrate what this means - we all get twinges and odd pains at different times in our body that aren't related to any particular distress, trauma or injury. Simply the body adjusting itself. We may get a short moderate pain in our calf muscle for no particular reason and generally we either ignore it or don't even notice or see it as anything untoward. It goes away, we forget about it. Someone suffering with health anxiety experiencing a similar pain would then become extremely fearful and significantly escalate the simple pain with worry thoughts, creating even more fear and anxiety. Susan would relate to me that it could be a clot clot that will then travel through her body, get to her heart and she would suffer a heart attack. She would then take that further and say what are my children going to do growing up without me?!
In my experience health anxiety tends to show itself after an individual has already been suffering an anxiety condition for a period of time. Needless to say Susan applied herself to my anxiety program and with correct intervention she was fine
Brad was the MD of his own company and gave a short talk at the beginning of every week with his staff to keep everyone informed and aware of the objectives and expectations of the coming week. Brad had given hundreds of these talks and he knew all his staff. He presented to me as he had begun to suffer with lack of confidence and now wasn't looking forward to giving his talk with the staff the following week. It was a combination of lack of confidence and a small degree of performance anxiety that had crept in but then manifested itself. We had one consultation/treatment session and he emailed the following Monday to say he felt supremely confident with his talk and was now absolutely fine