“I couldn’t live anymore with anxiety. I was suffering too much.”
In the winter of 2015, Bodell Ostertag reached her breaking point. She was about to drive across town to get some groceries, a simple errand for most people, yet all Bodell could do was panic about possibly losing control of the vehicle and accidentally running over someone on the sidewalk.
Everytime I saw a person walking on the sidewalk, I panicked that I might lose control of the car & run them over. It made my life a living hell.
Even though she knew it wasn’t logical, she couldn’t stop thinking it could happen and the more she felt it could happen, the more upset and out of control she felt. “It made me wonder what kind of person I was. Like – what was seriously wrong with me? How could I even think such a thought?” The worst part was the more she tried to fight it, the worse it got. “I felt completely out of control in my own mind.”
Little did she know that she had pure obsessional OCD – a form of OCD in which a person gets stuck fighting the thoughts in their own mind caused by a misfiring amygdala (the seat of the fight or flight response). “A lot of people think OCD is someone washing their hands 15x in a row or counting objects. That’s not always the case.” But the problem for her was that she did not know she had the disorder. Nor did she know how to treat it. All she knew was that she was stuck in a battle with an invisible enemy and no matter what she did, she couldn’t win.
Agoraphobia, Panic Attacks, Social Phobia, and Toilet Proximity Awareness Disorder – I’ve been dealing with anxiety disorders since I was 9 years old but this new one – Pure Obsessional OCD – killed me inside. It was the first time in my life where I lost all hope that I could ever beat anxiety. It was also the first time in my life where I really thought about ending my life to stop the pain.
“I’ve been through so much in my life – abusive relationships, dealing with an alcoholic parent, poverty, being bullied in school – you name it I’ve dealt with it and not only did I survive these challenges but I became stronger. I’m a fighter – whether or not I want to admit it – I am. And I was pretty pissed that anxiety was always beating me without me ever landing a good counter-punch against it. Why did anxiety rule my life? Didn’t I have a choice?”
Digging deeper into her past, Bodell came to the life changing realization that she was not born with an anxiety disorder – they developed later in her life. If she wasn’t born with her anxiety disorders, was it possible that her anxiety was – in some ways – a learned response? A learned response that became a habit which overtook her mind and body?
The realization that anxiety wasn’t always in my life was huge. It was life changing. Because it meant that if my anxiety disorders weren’t with me since birth, I must have somehow learned it as a response – a maladaptive response. And if I learned one way, I could learn a new way. I had a choice. I was not going to be a victim to anxiety anymore.
Bodell immediately plunged herself into treatment, going to counseling, trying new techniques, speaking with her doctor about medication, and researching about anxiety. “It’s not that I didn’t try to get rid of my anxiety before. It’s just – this time was different. Anxiety almost destroyed me and when you hit rock bottom it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I refused to let that happen again. I had to figure it out.” But success did not come overnight. “As I was reading all these different websites and books about anxiety, I kept getting more and more frustrated because all I wanted was a clear answer on how to get rid of anxiety and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Instead, I felt I kept getting the anxiety run around where there was a lot of emphasis on statistics, definitions, and medication options, and not a clearly defined solution for anxiety.
To get my anxiety under control I knew exactly what I was looking for: A legitimate and permanent solution. No half-solutions or whimsical thinking or wonky suggestions like snapping a rubber band on your wrist every time you felt anxious. I wanted to be told “This is anxiety, this is why you have it, and this is what you have to do to make it go away.”
After many many months of intense searching as well as extremely frustrating setbacks, success finally came for her when she discovered the 3 Step Response.
I was reading about desensitization and exposure therapy when I had one of those “ah hah” moments where my anxiety, and how to defeat it, became crystal clear. I saw clearly why I had anxiety, where I was getting stuck, and I also knew what I had to do to get rid of it.
The answer to defeating chronic anxiety started with the fight or flight response. “People like myself who have an anxiety disorder lose the ability to experience anxiety normally. Instead, we see anxiety as an enemy. To change that, we have to retrain our mind and our body to experience anxiety – not as an enemy – but as an emotion and sensation that we can handle.” This discovery led her to creating the 3 Step Response (Repeat, Breathe, and Accept) which she used every time she felt anxious to teach her brain and her body to respond to anxiety successfully.
For the first time, in a very long time, I was able to experience anxiety as an emotion and a sensation that I could handle. I knew my life would be completely different going forward. It (the 3 Step Response) was a life changing discovery.
But for Bodell, her work with anxiety wasn’t done.
In fact, it was just getting started.
“Do you know I hate the most about anxiety? The power of its destructiveness. An anxiety disorder isn’t just a menace. It destroys people and their lives. After I discovered the 3 Step Response and saw the results for myself, I knew I had to do something with this information to help others. It was very important for me to do something – anything – to try and make a difference.
The desire to help others resulted in The Freedom from Anxiety Guide -the free anxiety guide she wrote to help people defeat their anxiety.
I knew I had done something really special when I started receiving messages from people all around the world thanking me for writing it.
These days, Bodell continues to share her anxiety knowledge any way she can including the creation of this website. “I wanted to establish a place where people could go to get the help they needed and I wanted the information to be solution oriented, engaging, and of very high quality.” She also uses the power of social media to share her anxiety recovery with others.
I’ve learned that to really “defeat anxiety” there are 3 important parts which must come together and become part of a person’s lifestyle. They are:
- Knowing how to respond to anxiety in the present moment.
- Understanding & healing the past.
- Building a different & better future using positive affirmations & other techniques.
All of the articles and videos Bodell creates teaches the effectiveness of this approach. “The best way to describe an anxiety disorder is to use the image of an iceberg. On the surface, you only see the tip of the iceberg – so you assume it’s really easy to navigate around however that isn’t true because underneath the water is the part of the iceberg you really need to worry about because it is so much bigger and hidden from your view. That image of the iceberg is how I think of anxiety disorders. There are a lot of layers that you don’t see directly that you are working on and understanding and healing. To really defeat anxiety, you have to tackle it on multiple layers of understanding.”
“This is the approach I offer – a multi pronged approach that effectively tackles that iceberg (anxiety disorder) until it’s no longer a threat and you are able to sail past it peacefully and move on.” Bodell Ostertag also uses the power of social media to share her anxiety solutions with others. “If I could help one person live a happier life, all of my efforts would be worth it. Just knowing that I could help a person enjoy a life without anxiety dictating the terms means more to me than I could possibly ever explain. Anxiety took so much from my life. Years and years of hiding in bathrooms and being so scared and isolated on a daily basis since I was 9 years old. I would never wish that pain on anyone and I want to do everything I can to ensure that other people can enjoy life, and defeat chronic anxiety, permanently.”
Connect with Bodell & begin your journey towards anxiety recovery – today.
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