What Clients are Saying about the Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program...
You should absolutely go. It’s amazing the skill/tools one can learn while building a foundation for your mental wellness.
I think that the program is great and very helpful. I would recommend it to anyone that are struggling with her anxiety and then skills to deal with it.
I would say keep an open mind. Group therapy in itself can be scary and intimidating, but this has honestly been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Keep perspective on the situation as well, what is six weeks versus a full lifetime of skills and healthy coping mechanisms you can use to take back control of your life. The structure the program brings helps wonders as well. I’m going to miss the ladies of Renew, both in group in those teaching group.
I was immobilized with anxiety. I was hesitant but decided to attend. While my anxiety isn't gone, I have the tools to deal with the pain it was causing me.
Do it! Don’t wait-start now. If you struggle with anxiety, this program is for you. You’ll get so much out of it, and maybe even make a few friends. I’ll be able to apply the coping skills I learned in this program for the rest of my life. I plan to continue with the aftercare group to help reinforce and practice the skills. I’ve learned so I do not become a “master of my emotions.” (Or at least I try)
I would tell them to know that in time, thought processes can change so to keep practicing skills.
Do it! Anyone struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, etc should invest in this program. The instructors are very compassionate, supportive and incredibly knowledgeable! This was a life saving and life changing experience for me.
Have patience with yourself as you go through this program. The first couple days of group are really tough but power through. Everyone has felt that way, but after a few sessions sharing becomes easier and it is helpful to talk through your issues.
I’ve been to other mental health IOPs and feel this was the best one for me yet. I have learned skills I can use life long. I encourage you to take a step out of your comfort zone and do it! It is a life changing program.
I have been part of several programs in the past to help me overcome my anxiety. With the tools I have learned at Renew, I am able to function each day without becoming overwhelmed with emotions that ultimately lead to isolation. Making the decision to take part in this program will be the best decision you make. In order to make the most of the program, you have to give 100% and dedicate yourself to a new way of thinking. At the end of the program, your dedication toward learning the skills of ACT will change your life and you will be able to experience each day with a new outlook.
Before starting IOP, I was consumed by my anxiety. Each day I would worry about my life being ruined by my past. I worried about my addictions. I was very anxious about just living. I was fearful of just going out of the house. My days were focused on not drinking, not using medications mixed with alcohol, not using self-harm to numb and not focusing on my suicidal thoughts. My mind was always negative.
Now that I have completed the Anxiety Center at Renew, I am able to identify the thoughts I have each day and identify the emotions/urges/body sensations/memories that contribute to them. I am able to communicate my needs better to my support system. I am no longer living negatively and focusing on not doing things but instead living each day for what it is.
You will probably get off to a bad start and it will be difficult, but keep going and things will get better.
Before starting the IOP I was full of anxiety; low self-esteem, constantly worried about my weight... I felt worthless...shame...aloneness. Now that I have completed the Anxiety Program at Renew, I still have so many things to work on-shame, becoming more assertive, lots of anxiety coping skills, raising my self esteem and rediscovering my identity. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would say that although it is a lot of classes, it is worth your time.
I would strongly recommend this program. Prior to taking this class I was suffering from anxiety that kept me from doing the things I wanted to do in life. The program taught me a different approach in dealing with my anxiety. It also focused on teaching mindfulness and how to apply it to your life. After 6 weeks of this program, anxiety no longer has a hold of me. I was able to manage my anxiety and do the things I wanted to do.
Listen and take in as much info as possible. You get out of the program what you put into it.
Celebrate victories-give yourself credit for punching your anxiety in the face.
Practicing works-doing it for the little stuff makes the hard stuff easier.
Everytime you think about something you learned here, it’s a win-every time you catch your anxiety it's a win. At this point, it's not even about being able to actually keep your anxiety in check; that’s like climbing a mountain right after you learn to walk-every little thing is a win; celebrate it. The idea of being in a place bad enough to come here and then come out 6 weeks later 100% able to keep it together all the time as the “expectation” is, again, like trying to climb a mountain after learning to walk; you’re going to fall down. It’s not wrong if you fall down; it’s expected.
Anxiety inventory can help tell your loved one to see whatsapp without having to have this whole speech or something worked out-or help you see other things in your own anxiety-talking about it doesn’t have to be re-inventing the wheel (doing it soon?)-like I said, every little thing is a win-walking about it normalizes it-talking about it makes it less strong-you can preface with what’s helpful and what’s not from them-they do care; you can help them show it in a way that helps
If you’re going to let your brain tell you lies, why not make it tell you positive lies?
I was very anxious all of the time and couldn’t focus on anything. I am still anxious, I just choose to ride out the anxiety by deep breathing, listening to music, etc.
This is life changing. The skills and strategies you learn will help you be able to cope with your anxiety. What do you have to lose if this doesn’t work, because avoiding everything isn't the answer either.
You have to let the program help you. You can’t just go, listen, then go home. You have to be willing to put in work, to put into action the strategies they give you. When you leave you will have so many tools under your belt to help you work through your anxiety. It may be scary the first couple of nights but push through because everyone in the group is so supportive and I promise no one is judging you. This is an amazing program that is definitely worth taking.
Life before starting the program was a belief that I would 100% not get better, an inability to go most places with my family and dropping out of classes. Now that I have completed the program, things have been progressing. I went to school orientation and have started to consider a future career and making education decisions I had been avoiding. For someone thinking about starting the program, I would say don’t stay surface level and skim the course. If you fulling dip into the program you will learn new angles for familiar topics.
Before starting the program, I had very bad social anxiety. It kept me from doing things and it was a strain on my relationships. Now that I have completed the program, the anxiety is still there but the program has showed me how to deal with it so that it doesn’t totally shut me down. For anyone starting the program, I would recommend it. The program works as long as you apply yourself and give it a chance.
Before the Anxiety IOP, I was really depressed and anxious. I felt overwhelmed and tired everyday. My was impacted greatly by my consistent worries about nearly everything but primarily my job, my living situation, my parents. Several times per week I experienced suicidal ideation, and I just felt helpless and hopeless about my life. I showed up late to work, I obsessed about so much and I often felt I was not good enough. Self-care was frequently a chore that didn’t enjoy. I was overall very unhappy and displeased with my life. Now that I have completed the program, I am mindful every day without much effort. I feel mostly comfortable in my own skin, and I’m working hard at improving my skills of self compassion and defusion. I often remind myself that I am worthwhile and think positively about my life and relationships with others. I spend less time overwhelmed and anxious. My sleep is much improved and I continue to make it a priority as much as I can. I feel better about my abilities to manage my stress and anxiety while at work. I’m less tired and depression does no control me each and every day. For anyone thinking about starting this program I would say that it’s beneficial. For me, it has been life changing. I truly feel I have gained skills and knowledge that I will continue to use for the rest of my life. It was great to share my worries, fears and anxieties with the group. Talking about each of them really made them lose their power and helped me feel less alone in the world. The instructors are each unique in their teaching approach and absolutely care about you and your well-being.
Before the Anxiety IOP, my days were filled with anxiety and depression. I could not see past it. I saw how it affected my family and punished myself for it. I was severely restricting my intake. I saw myself as worthless and out of control and could not see why anyone could ever love me. Now that I have completed the program, I have learned ways to defuse from my negative thoughts and make room for my negative feelings. Most of the time, I feel comfortable in my own skin and no longer feel the constant need to punish myself. Instead I use my values to guide my actions. To anyone who is thinking about starting the program I would tell them it's hard and uncomfortable at times, but it has taught me many skills to help me live my life with anxiety as opposed to fighting it all the time.
Before the Anxiety IOP, there was so much fear in my life-worry, relationships, friendships, catastrophizing. Every day felt like the worst day with panic attacks 2-3 times a week. My mind was never in the present, I was restricting my diet and I always said “I’m stressed.” Now that I have completed the program: my thoughts are manageable, I’m able to see the positive, live in the present, accept and defuse thoughts, know my values and who I am, be more open to relationships and my panic attacks are only about once a month. My self care is 100% better and I can learn more from my past and my mistakes. To anyone who is thinking about starting the program I would tell them that if you are someone that constantly is stuck or stalled in one gear, Renew is perfect for you because it helps you shift gears by teaching mindfulness, observer as self, acceptance, defusion, values and action.
Before starting the Anxiety IOP, I worried so much and it was hard to separate truth from my anxious thoughts. Small germ exposures would feel like the end of the world and I would dwell on it for days. I had a very hard time enjoying life and being present. I avoided triggering situations and couldn’t challenge my fears. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP, I still have worries and fears but I can cope much better. I can realize and notice when my anxiety is loud and use the tools we have been given to work through it. I have learned to give up some control and realize trying to control everything around me pushes me from my values. For someone starting the program, it might seem like you don’t need to or want to but it really helps. There are a lot of tools you are given and you meet lots of people dealing with similar issues. - Anonymous
Before starting the Anxiety IOP, I was depressed and anxious constantly, afraid I was going to feel this way forever. I cried multiple times per day and was barely able to take care of myself. I was afraid to be alone with my thoughts. Now that I have completed the IOP, I am able to accept my anxiety using mindfulness and defusion techniques. Some days I don’t feel anxious at all. I have learned to be patient and compassionate towards myself with I feel bad. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would say give it your best shot. It helped me to be vulnerable and talk about what was bothering me to people who understand. ~Anonymous
I would say do it! It is worth the time and effort, and it is definitely an example of short term pain for long term gain. It is certainly a sacrifice, but you are worth it. And so are your loved ones and your goals and values. I would encourage you to challenge yourself as much as you can (and more than you think you can or feel comfortable with). Imagine you are in a fight for your life against anxiety/OCD or whatever it is you’re struggling with. Give it all you’ve got, and fight to win. This is such a beautiful opportunity and an amazing environment to grow, learn, and heal. You are with others that understand the way you think/feel, and they empathize with your pain. Be vulnerable, because it takes the power away from the shame, and it helps someone else to know they are not alone. This is a safe place to challenge your unhealthy mindsets/behaviors.
My life before Anxiety IOP at Renew:
Before I started IOP, I spent about 90% of my day avoiding mental and physical discomfort. My first thoughts waking up were always about what anxiety triggers would happen that day. I could not focus on work and was not making much progress on my degree. I lost interest in all my hobbies. My relationships with my husband and friends were strained because I got upset often but could not express/explain what was happening. I constantly felt like a failure – that I was not doing enough and I was not good enough. I felt helpless and could not find anything that made me feel better. I also felt alone – that no one else suffered like this and that there was something seriously wrong with me that I would have to deal with my whole life. It took me anywhere from 2 to 6 hours to fall asleep at night, and I was constantly fatigued.
My life now I completed the Anxiety Program:
Now I understand that I struggle with anxiety. I know that I am normal, that suffering is universal and a part of life. I have started spending time relaxing and pursuing hobbies. I now see the value of connecting with others, and I actually want to pursue this. Despite spending 10 hours in therapy a week, I am making more progress on my degree now that I have in months. I now understand my feelings and I have the language to communicate what I feel to my husband and close friends. I spend much less time judging myself and worrying about my thoughts/feelings. I am able to do things that make me feel anxious and challenge the thoughts I have. I also lowered the impossibly high standards I set for myself, and am feeling successful about what I am able to do while maintaining my health and happiness. I am able to fall asleep most nights in less than 30 minutes. Most importantly I have really gained a sense of self, and this has helped me get through a lot of difficult emotions because I know I am more than what I feel/think/see/accomplish at any given time.
What I would say to someone who is starting the program:
I would encourage them to stick with the program, and that things may feel worse before they feel better. I was very overwhelmed and afraid once I had the language and understanding of anxiety because I found out that I experienced anxiety pretty much constantly. I would really encourage them to share as much as they can in a group, because it is such a safe place to practice sharing feelings if they are having trouble communicating feelings with others for fear of judgment/embarrassment. Also, I would really encourage them to trust/have faith in the process. It takes time to develop the mental muscles to use the tools discussed in groups. It’s like doing pushups – when you first try it is reeeeally hard, but the more you do it the easier and more natural it becomes as you develop the muscles.
3 skills learned in IOP to implement in regards to ongoing recovery:
I have learned that I can get a lot of information from my thoughts/feelings. Even negative feelings can provide information to make a positive change in my life. The idea of observing my thoughts as a curious observer like this also gives me more distance from my feelings so I am not as overwhelmed by them.
Feelings and emotions come in waves. Some of the waves last longer than others and some are more intense than others, but they all pass eventually. This idea that an uncomfortable feeling is not forever gives me so much hope.
I learned about the importance of being able to give myself grace and compassion. I have really developed the language for this and compassionate thoughts about myself are coming more naturally. I now have room to take a break from work without feeling like a failure, and I look forward to spending time on my hobbies and things I enjoy.
To anyone starting the program, I would say it's a great program. I have learned great techniques to help when having a thought or feeling. You will always have anxiety but the group helped on how to handle it in a healthy way. I have now realized that I am not alone with having anxiety and negative thoughts. It’s common with the healing process to get worse before you get better. I recommend being fully engaged and finish the program for the best outcome.
My life before Anxiety IOP at Renew:
-Fears + Anxieties: fear of the unknown, fear of guilt and shame, anxiety over
-Days were depressing with no motivation, decreased energy, crying all the time,
-Quality of life was at an all-time low
-My relationships were mediocre
-My mind was blank and couldn’t think for myself half of the time.
My life now I completed the Anxiety Program:
-My fears and anxieties have lessened, and (I) have learned better ways to
handle it when it occurs
-My days are hopeful for the future
-My quality of life in content
-My relationships have strengthened throughout the duration of the program
-My mind is full of resources and techniques to be used in the future
What I would say to someone who is starting the program:
-It’s not easy, but it’s worth it
-Ask yourself if you weren't afraid, what you’d do, and then do it
-It’s challenging at times, but definitely rewarding
-Listen, participate, encourage, grow
-Don’t let your diagnosis define you
-Realize you are not alone
-You being here is enough
3 skills learned in IOP to implement in regards to ongoing recovery:
-”I notice I’m having the thought…”
Before IOP, I had a mental break. I was hospitalized, had lack of memory, fear of leaving my house, inability to care for my family’s daily needs, OCD, and seizures (psychogenic). I had anxiety about anxiety. I was afraid of having a panic attack or seizure so much that I isolated and spent most of my time on my compulsions to clean.
Now I am experiencing fewer seizures and panic attacks. I am connecting meaningfully with friends and family. I am able to ride the wave with some of my compulsions and I can defuse from some of my thoughts so I am not as limited by them.
Advice: It is very helpful to be in a group that understands what you are going through and can relate. I gained the tools of acceptance and defusion that help me to live with my anxiety and I identified my values so I can live more fully.
3 Skills: “Hello anxiety” “I notice I’m having the thought . . . “; School of fish; Values to get off the “hamster wheel” -Elizabeth
My life before IOP was an absolute trainwreck. I couldn’t function, sleep, or work. I would be in constant panic 24/7. I lost my dog before IOP and it was terrible. My anxiety comes from my fear of death. Even though I still have that fear, I have become a lot better about it. My days I would just sit around and panic about everything. My relationships were okay, but a lot better now. My mind before IOP was in a dark place. I thought I was losing my mind.
My life now is a lot better. Yes, I still panic from time to time. But Renew gave me coping skills to get through my difficult times. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I still have to work on my recovery.
Advice: DO IT!!!! If you are struggling, what do you have to lose? Everyone understands what you are going through. Be vulnerable and honest. Take everything you learn and apply it to your life. You may think 6 weeks is a long time, but it’s to better your mental health!
3 Skills: Defusion, Mindfulness, and Acceptance.
Before IOP, I was basically staying in my room/bed all day everyday. I could not leave the house to do anything or go anywhere. I was majorly withdrawn from friends (lost some friends) and completely socially withdrawn. Nothing was fun to me and I didn’t enjoy anything. My panic attacks happened several times a day, lasted hours, and was completely paralyzed by them. Due to this I had to be excused from doing my sorority’s recruitment by my doctor.
Now I’m able to better identify my feelings and acknowledge them instead of bottling everything up (avoidance).
Advice: I was really reluctant and hesitant to do group therapy, but I have completely changed my opinion of group therapy. This has been the best experience, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Advice I would give to someone starting the program is to volunteer every chance you encounter in group. I believe you get as much out of the program as you put in, so push yourself and do as much as you possibly can.
3 Skills: “I’m noticing I’m having the thought”; “Is this thought a fact?”; Letters we wrote (future selves, band aids, boundaries, etc.) -Anonymous
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP I would cry every day at least 5 times, focusing on potential failures, specific fears and loss of hope. My mind had retracted into a cycle of anxiety and the inability to relax. My wife and kids were fearful of my actions; not to hurt them but myself. I was unable to claw my way out of this cycle. Now that I have completed the program, I have moved to a place of stability, able to relax and enjoy time with my family. I have pulled back from the need to complete a list to relax, to feel a sense of accomplishment. My kids have noticed a calm demeanor in my daily life. For anyone starting the program, I would say this course is 6 weeks. I believe the improvement I have made and where I am mentally would take at least a year (if not ever) to get to where I am today. I truly thank the Lord for this course and my family does as well.
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP I had no way to cope and/or manage my anxiety and depression. Now that I have completed the program, I have techniques and skills to use in my everyday life. For anyone starting the program, I would say that if it would be beneficial at all, then do it.
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP I was not true to myself and those worries surrounding my identity caused a lot of anxiety and depression. I was very fearful of my future and fearful of taking to my social support about how anxiety and depression is affecting my life. My quality of life was so poor that I couldn’t be present for my family. Now that I have completed the program, I have been able to communicate with my social support and identify the aspects of my life that are causing me to not live in my values. I have been able to identify the values most important to me and develop a plan to continue to work toward achieving all my goals. For anyone starting the program, I would say that anxiety CAN be managed in healthy ways that allow for a fulfilled life.
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP I was in a constant state of daydream. I couldn’t focus on seemingly small tasks, much less big tasks. And I was feeling incredibly suicidal (again). Nothing brought me joy. My interests like sports, friends, family, work and even being alone time felt dull and meaningless. At this point I was hiding in the bathroom at work to avoid customers and my own growing discomfort. I had completely quit all sports or physical activities.I was isolating myself from family and hiding daily or frequently. In the middle of it, I felt alright. I knew what I was and wasn't doing was bad for me but my regard to safety was low. I didn’t respect myself. Now that I have completed the program, I still have thoughts of worry. I still feel unbelievable overwhelmed, but I’m more aware of it. Now, there are small moments I can step back and find a choice to put my energy elsewhere. I still have concerns but now they are narrowed down (instead of uncountable). I have been able to find courage (somewhere in the pit of worry) and have voiced my fear to others. From this I’ve gained support and connection. I have much to work on and improve but I don’t feel like I’m at the end of my rope anymore. For anyone starting the program, I would say that even it it’s paralyzingly terrifying, interact with others (as cheesy at that sounds). Get involved. Your fears and worries are valid but they DON’T have to consume you. If you can get past the first day, you can get past the rest. The skills and notes you make here can help the people around you. This program not only affects you but everything around you.
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP, my life was an ongoing wave of anxiety that I was unable to emotionally cope with. I never felt that my behavior was a choice and certainly didn’t know how to sit with my painful emotions. The idea of never being able to get rid of those emotions felt unbearable. My life was overwhelming to the point that I unconsciously made my world smaller. I was also prone to irritability and anger outbursts. Now that I have completed the program, I am by no means cured and there are still times when my reactive mind takes over. However, I have been able to deal with many difficult emotions by using defusion and acceptance. Knowing that I don’t have to hold onto every thought, especially unhelpful ones, has been so freeing. I have been able to determine what my values are, and what the life I want to live looks like. I will always have the anxiety, but no longer feel like it defines me. For anyone starting the program, if you struggle with anxiety, this group will change how you relate to your anxiety, what you think about anxiety, and how you cope. My biggest takeaway was to stop trying to get rid of the negative feelings, and learning to defuse and accept the feelings has changed my life!
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP my life was a complete mess-at least mentally. I had reached my lowest point on my birthday in August. I thought everyone would be so much better without me, and had a plan for suicide. I was hospitalized for a week at Shawnee Mission Medical Center. I thought I just had depression but the hospital strongly recommended I do this anxiety program. I didn’t realize how much anxiety I had but was struggling so much with everything being out of my control. I needed lots of tools in my tool box to learn to cope with day to day situations. I totally withdraw from family and friends. I was hopeless, felt worthless and I did not know what to do and thought was my new life. Now that I have completed the program, I feel like I am in much more control of my reactions to my thoughts. When I started I did not feel like I belonged in the group and told my husband I didn’t think I was smart enough to figure it out. I didn’t understand defusion at all. Now that I have figured that out, I am really trying not fuse with my thoughts and feelings. I do a lot of talking to myself out loud to really defuse. I am really working on staying present and understand what that means. I try to enjoy moments and not look ahead. That takes lots of practice. I still have lots of struggles with what I feel are my shortcomings. But I now feel I am functioning much better. For anyone starting the program, I would say give it time. It took me almost 2 weeks to really start absorbing information and understanding what I have been taught. Really take in the class and the information being taught. Learn from and value your group members too. Be consistent in attending and try your best to do your homework. Be patient and it will help.~Carmen
Before starting the Anxiety Center’s IOP, every morning I would wake up and immediately have a panic attack or I would wake up feeling fine and my mind would begin looking for something to worry about. I would worry all day wondering if I’d still have a job at the end of the day or if there was something else I’d lose. I didn’t want to laugh or feel happy for the fear of something bad happening in return. Now that I have completed the program, I still experience anxiety, but I now have the tools to manage it. I’m able to go out and enjoy time with my husband, do self care by playing with my dogs, exercising and focusing on the things that are really important. For anyone starting the program, I would say it’s hard at first. I’d equate it to going to the gym. When you think about going, you try to talk yourself out of it, but once you get there, you’re really glad you didn’t skip it. It is beneficial and its nice to know you’re not alone. If you stick to it and use the tools it really helps. Don’t be afraid to try medicine for extra help.~Tara
Before starting the IOP, I was in a lot of despair. My life was turned upside down and I felt as though I was drowning. My thoughts and feelings were dictating my everyday life. I was just trying to survive and didn’t know how to cope with such a devastating ordeal with my children and I. I couldn’t see my future and couldn’t focus what was right in front of me which were the people who care for me with such love and compassion. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I have learned many things about myself and the strength I have. The ability to see my future and my determination to not let the circumstance that has happened to determine my future and the mother that I am. It really changed my thoughts of myself and how to deal with my anxiety. Learning about what my true values and beliefs are and accepting them and knowing how to move forward while living with purpose. I am excited to see what comes next. For anyone starting the program, I would say to believe in yourself and don’t doubt that you are alone. Anxiety is real and we can learn to deal with those emotions in a healthy way. Opening up and being vulnerable helps. The more you talk, the more it helps. Continue to work on the skills that you have learned and learning to make your life more whole and fulfilling.
Before starting the IOP, I was dissociating all the time, shaking at random and constantly worried about how I was going to survive the day. I was in so much denial about the role anxiety played in my life. I had stopped living and was on complete survival mode. My therapist was hesitant to proceed in helping me work through my trauma because I was coping in such destructive ways and unable to tolerate any real emotion. I was binging and purging all the time or cutting-I was spiraling and I wanted to die. Depression and anxiety had completely taken over and I forgot I had a purpose. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, my day to day life looks completely different after having finished the program. I have stopped dissociation and maladaptive coping. I now face my feelings and have learned ways to deal with extreme thoughts and distress. I now direct my life with my values in mind and take action that align with my overall purpose and end goal in mind. I don’t fear my feelings like I used to, and when things get tough, I know I have been given the tools to deal life without completely falling apart or avoiding it. Life is much easier. For anyone starting the program, I would say stick with the program and learn to be vulnerable. You’ll get the most out of it if you participate, keep an open mind and challenge yourself to do the difficult things asked of you.
Before starting the IOP, I was just really unconfident about myself. I didn’t think I was smart or pretty and really let those hold me back. I had anxiety over emailing people at working, dating and even reaching out to old friends. I was just so afraid that people would think negatively of me. I would isolate myself from my friends and not confront them when they did something to upset me because I was convinced that I probably deserved it in some way. While my anxiety was more situational, it still had a huge effect on my life since it would hinder me from going after my values. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, while I still have anxiety and issues with confidence, IOP has taught me a lot of ways to cope with it so that I it doesn’t hold me back. I’ve been attempting to talk to more people on Match and Bumble and the more I do it the more confident I feel. I’m also more confident at work and emailing people doesn’t give me as much anxiety as it used to. I’m also working on being more mindful and present, which has really helped me because I don’t dread something I have to do in the future. I still need to work on being more assertive with people and making it known if they’ve crossed a boundary but I am coming along. It has just become easier for me to talk to people. I think being forced to confront the source of my anxiety, my shame, is what really helped. For anyone starting the program, I would say that the most important thing is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. That is what is going to allow you to be the most successful. No one in that room is going to judge you because they’re going through the same things. If you’re honest, then that’s the best way for Anna, Kori and Rachael to help. The other thing is that you have to be willing to do things that make you uncomfortable; that was one of the hardest things for me, but it was worth it. Again, this is a safe environment, so it’s okay to let loose. We’re all going through the same thing!
Before starting the IOP, my days were filled with constant worry and uneasiness. My thoughts controlled my mind and daily activities. I was constantly irritable and lashing out at loved ones, followed by intense guilt and shame. I did not understand my thoughts or why they were happening and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I am able to better understand that thoughts are just…. Well, thoughts! Those thoughts will always be there so fighting them does nothing for me. I’ve learned to just accept those thoughts and carry on living life. I’m able to diffuse negative thoughts, and although I do still engage in the hamster wheel from time to time the rides are much shorter. Overall what I truly gained from Renew are life skills which I hope to always carry with me. For anyone starting the program, you will get out of it what you put into it. The program is time consuming and at times uncomfortable but it does put some light at the end of the tunnel. And I don’t feel as if after six weeks suddenly I am cured of my anxiety. But I do feel like now I have the tools to better understand and cope with my anxiety. There is no magic button, but Renew definitely points you in the right direction.
Before starting the IOP, I didn’t have any skills to cope with my anxiety. But now I have lots of skills to use in order to cope with my anxiety. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I have skills and tools to help me cope with my anxiety. For anyone starting the program, I would tell them it is worth the time and work.
I'm not a writer, I'm a smart ass, procrastinator with the mentality of a five year old. But I've also gone through some things in my life that have changed my way of thinking. I believe, these things are what gave me OCD and major anxiety. I've always dealt with anxiety. But, my anxiety would come and go and last no longer than a month. This last time on my roller coaster of anxiety, it has lasted for a year and a half. I experienced loss after loss and the anxiety has manifested into something bigger. It made me believe I would eventually lose everything. I began anticipating the future, trying to find a fix for what may or may not happen. I was scared every day, I felt alone, nobody understood. I was in a dark place that I didn't think I could ever pull myself out of. Just when I was at a point in life that I felt strong, I became incredibly weak.
Then I found this program. Did this program cure me? No, of course not. Anxiety is like the common cold. There are so many different forms and it affects everyone differently that there is no single cure. But, there are ways to manage it. To prevent it from controlling your life. Take group seriously. It's not going to work overnight. But, if you stick with it, listen to what everyone is saying, and utilize the techniques, you will gain control of your life again. You will learn to quiet the voice of anxiety. You are not your thoughts. But, you do decide what to do with those thoughts. Don't hide from them, don't run away from them, learn to acknowledge them. Decide if the thought is helping you work toward your values in life. Feel the sensation it gives you. I had to speak in front of 40 people the other day. I can barely speak in front of 2 people. I let the thoughts creep in, but I didn't allow them to control me. My hands become sweaty, I broke out in a rash, my mouth went dry, but I did it. And after that, everyone told me I did great, appeared confident, and what I had to say was valuable. I was valuable! Imagine had I went back to hiding in my hole and refused to speak. Never would I have thought I would have added value for someone else. My point is, group does work. Is it hard? Hell yes it is. Is it worth it? Most definitely. Don't be afraid to share in group, because I can almost guarantee you someone in that room has shared the same thoughts you are having. You will begin to feel less alone.
Learn to feel shame. I was ashamed that I was having to do IOP. Then I became proud of myself for caring enough to take care of myself. I began sharing with people that I was going to group. One thing I heard a lot in group was, "I failed," or "I am a failure." My response to that is, great! If you have failed, that means you tried something. What you do with that failure is what will make the difference. Try again, try different techniques, and just keep going.
I realize that no one at this point probably knows who I am, but please trust me and know that it works if you put your all into it.
Before starting the IOP, I went days without eating or drinking anything. I couldn't get out of bed or go to class sometimes. My relationships were failing because I couldn’t love myself first. My mind was constantly blank, but would only race with negative self talk. I had awful panic attacks on random nights which lasted 2-3 hours per night (violent shaking and increased heart rate, followed by extreme/severe weakness). Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I know how to stop my panic attacks before they happen with the techniques I’ve learned at Renew! I’m not anxious day-to-day like I used to be, For anyone starting the program, I would tell them to stick it out even if it doesn’t seem like something that you would usually do, or feel like is something that would help.
Before starting the IOP, I was having frequent anxiety and panic attacks. I cried a lot and had difficulty concentrating and articulating what I was feeling. And I avoided situations which would cause me anxiety. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I have been able to notice my anxiety and learn to manage it by mindfulness, acceptance, defusion and other activities. I feel more in control of my emotions and have a better idea of my goals, values, and boundaries to set for those issues which cause me the most anxiety. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would tell them to be honest with yourself. Don’t be afraid to share what you are feeling. Take the homework and assignments seriously and even if it doesn’t make sense how it will help, it will click and you will learn the tools you need to help with your anxiety.
Before starting the IOP, I was constantly worried about things that may or not happen. I was constantly getting in fights with my husband because I couldn’t put my feelings with my words. I didn’t know how to cope with my worries and they kept growing on top of each other. I didn’t know how to feel about my brothers attempt or how to cope with it. I was crying over everything and didn’t know how to take care of myself. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program,now when I start to feel anxiety I know some steps that I can take to decrease severity and duration. I am able to put my thoughts and feelings to words and feel like I have a lot more resources at my disposal. I feel like I am better prepared to face work and my upcoming move. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would tell them that the homework was my most helpful part because it puts the things we learn here to practice in your day to day life. If you don’t feel like your homework is working or attainable, then talk to someone to figure out a better assignment.
Before starting the IOP, my anxiety was so bad that I was barely able to function. I had stopped talking to many of my friends. I was leaving work early every shift because I was so anxious. I was crying all the time and hating where I was at in life. I would spend my days skipping class to avoid my anxiety and instead going home to watch Netflix and ignore my feelings. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I sleep much better. I recognize my shame and how it channels into anxiety and depression. I have better coping skills with my anxiety by using defusion, separating myself from the emotions I feel and better grounding techniques. I have my creativity back and feel like I am thriving. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would tell them that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I thought I was alone with my anxiety before and it was really nice being around others who go through the same thing I do.
Before starting the IOP, my anxiety was at a 10. I would look in the mirror for 8 hours a day and I wasn’t going into work. Now my anxiety is at about a 2 and I look in the mirror about 5 minutes a day. Now that I have completed the Anxiety IOP program, I have time to do other things in my life. Having and spending time with my family and having less urges to look in the mirror. I also go into work more. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would tell them to stick with it and be open.
Before starting the IOP, I felt like there is no hope for recovery. I was constantly afraid of things such as driving, social media, social situations, and life in general now, I feel like I can accept that my thoughts and feelings don’t run my life and may or may not be accurate. Now that I’ve completed the program, I would say I have many skills and strategies to help me to fuse except situations. I definitely still feel anxious every day, but it doesn’t scare me as much. What I would say to someone thinking about the program is that I would highly recommend it. However, I would also warn them not to expect instant gratification. You get out of the program what you put in.
Before starting the IOP, my life was debilitating and still kind of is. I was suicidal and my therapist wanted to put me back in inpatient care. Relationships with friends and family were straight. I was 100% against ever being on meds again as well. I feel completely worthless and that things would never get better. I was merely existing. Now that I’ve completed the program honestly my anxiety is still pretty debilitating. However, everyone is proud of how hard I’m working and has improved my relationships with friends and family. I do have a better grasp on what my core values are so that’s important. I do try to look for things that I’m grateful for. I also came to the conclusion that my job is to turn my recovery and therefore I need to quit. This is my current major stressor the job itself and trying to figure out what else I can do. I also became open-minded about possibly being put on meds, as I took a genetic test to see what meds well I’m at work with my genetics. I’ve also been talking to like coach. For anybody thinking about starting the program, go for it. It teaches you a lot of coping mechanisms and teaches you how to be mindful of how to focus on your values. Plus it can’t hurt! To be honest I didn’t do for me as much as I hoped it would. But that could also have to do with my job and not be medicated.
Before starting the program my life was debilitating. I was always afraid of the next panic attack, I was terrified of dying, and I would never leave the house. Now that I’ve completed the program, I feel more confident in my life as far as living with my anxiety and being able to function with it. For anyone thinking about the program, I would suggest asking to consider it. The program is a life changer.
Before starting the program, I was always on edge and felt constantly just overwhelming anxiety and has so many obsessive and intrusive thoughts. I felt crazy and like the people I was around could understand the anxiety but weren’t as sensitive to me about my compulsions. I was going in to work and had episodes of repeating myself over and over and it was really getting in the way of productivity at work and I felt like I was ready to be around people who could give me tools and strategies to deal with anxiety and OCD. Now that I’ve completed the program, I would not say that the anxiety and OCD are gone by any means, but that’s one of the things I learned in this program is to not try to control things I can’t like thoughts and urges that pop up but to defuse or unhook myself so that I can experience those things, but not let them control my life. I still have a lot to work on but I have met so many kind and understanding people who I look forward to seeing in the aftercare program and I have learned strategies to deal with these unwanted thoughts and feelings I just need practice and to not be so hard on myself. It is hard for me to do but I have at least noticed when I don’t need to give in to thoughts that I have, the hard part is the feelings that come when you don’t give in. For anyone thinking about the program, I would say do it! It is so encouraging to be around people who are going through the same struggles you are and it’s helpful to have accountability.
Before starting the program, it was almost constant physical anxiety. I couldn’t think about anything but the panic/anxiety. I had almost zero interest in the things I’m passionate about, and couldn’t pay attention in class or at work. I was afraid to go certain places, eat certain foods, and wear certain clothes. I could barely eat because I would get so nauseous, and I didn’t enjoy how food tasted. It felt like I was just existing. Now that I’ve completed the program, I can go about my daily life and not be constantly weighed down by anxiety. It hasn’t gone away completely, and I still have moments where I get anxious, but I have learned ways to cope and deal with it. My interest in doing activities like going to class and having fun has returned, and now that it’s back I’m much more grateful for the little things in life. My appetite is back. Renew has taught me so much about anxiety and OCD and in turn, so much about myself. I have been at the brink of panic attacks and been able to walk myself back down before they happen, something that I had never been able to do before. For anyone thinking about the program, I would say try to be open and willing to learn new things, even if you feel like you’ve exhausted every option. Keeping an open mind is an important part of the learning process.
Before starting Iop, there was a constant need for reassurance from my family, uncontrollable sobbing, me, constant looping worries with my OCD, feelings of hopelessness like I was always going to feel this way and never get better, hypochondriac issues like feeling like there’s something terribly wrong with me or my baby or my family, my brain was always on high alert for the next catastrophe, I was unable to focus and be in the present moment due to my constant state of panic/worry and feeling defeated. Now that I’ve completed the program I’m able to enjoy daily life more without anxiety leading me, I have an ability to talk myself down and use tools when starting to feel anxious, I know I’m not alone, I have an ability to access my rational brain more, an understanding that pushing my thoughts away is not the answer, I’ve found the importance of practicing mindfulness daily, I can see a future brighter than I thought possible compared to where I’ve been and what I’ve been through this past year. For anyone thinking about starting the program I would say do it! The fear of doing it the first night is much worse than what you do. It’s more casual and interactive than I thought- I thought it was going to be “lecturing” and we all contribute and help each other as a group. Even though someone may suffer from a different form of anxiety, their experiences are still relatable.
Before starting the IOP, I would get anxiety over the smallest things. Like doing dishes, laundry, taking my son places. If it wasn’t going like I had planned in my head, I would get frustrated and verbally lash out on my husband and son. Now that I’ve completed the program, I have better tools and understanding of what anxiety is for me, and how I can overcome it. I don’t freak out when things don’t go my way, but I can defuse and step back and think of how to adjust. For anyone thinking about starting the program, I would say be open, honest and true to yourself. No one will judge you. You will even walk away with no connections and friends!
Before starting IOP program was not great. Now that I completed it, I sleep too much instead of not enough. I realize unhealthy relationships in my life. I eat more. My mind is not all over the place. I know where my thoughts come from and why I feel the way so it’s easier to not get trapped by them. To anyone thinking about starting the program, I would tell them that these are skills I’m going to use in college and I want to teach the skills to my children difference between thoughts and feelings. I want them to know what thoughts are worth their energy and what things are out of their control. When you live with anxiety, you have to retrain the way your brain thinks. After you learn the skills, you’re allowing yourself an enlightened thought process. When I deal with my emotions in everyday situations, I feel superior because I’m able to be aware of what is happening and why I feel that way.
Before starting the anxiety program at Renew, I was constantly crying, had a strong fear of being fired, and I was scared to go to work. I was making lots of mistakes at work and I wasn’t able to focus and remember how to do my job. Now that I’ve completed the program I don’t cry at all. I’m not afraid of being fired as much, I’m not making as many mistakes at work, and I have a plan to know and understand my job now. I still have anxiety. What I would say to anyone thinking about starting the program is it is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It has changed my life.
Before starting the Anxiety Program at Renew I was anxious and on edge. I had just returned from vacation in Tennessee where I had been in a driving in a high anxiety/panic attack heavy 12 hour car ride home. I’ve been off my anxiety medicine for almost 7 weeks. I had gotten through the physical withdrawal but all of the emotional and physical symptoms were flooding back. Now that I’ve completed the program, I have learned tools and techniques to use when I’m having a panic attack or I’m feeling very anxious. I learn more about anxiety and panic attacks, and I’m learning/practicing accepting them. I’m back on medicine (although somewhat reluctantly) and I’m working through my fears of driving. I have also learned more about mindfulness and I have the tools to practice it. For anyone thinking about starting the program I would say that taking the time to work on yourself is beneficial not only to you but your family too. It’s worth the time commitment!
Before starting the Anxiety Program at Renew, I was sleeping all day everyday. Quality of life was compromised to say the least. My relationships were uncomfortable because I felt like a complete failure in life and sleep was my way to escape the anxiety. Now that I’ve completed the program, life now isn’t perfect but I have learned some real skills that help make life manageable. I feel I’m on the right track. What I would say to anyone thinking about starting the program is what do you have to lose? You have much more to gain.
Before starting the Anxiety Program at Renew, I was on a constant hamster wheel. I was always zeroed in on the true/possible negatives, cancelled plans always (or tried), had the urge to isolate and hide away. I was disconnected from family. Now that I’ve completed the program, I am a work in progress. I have successfully “not” cancelled plans. I have set up bedtime boundaries in order to spend mindful time with my kids. The hamster wheel is slower and I can manage better. I am not “buying in” to all the racing thoughts anymore. What I would say to anyone thinking about starting the program is to give it a try. It’s overwhelming and a lot of information, but if you can latch on to a few concepts that will help you, it will definitely help you.
Before starting IOP program my life was hell. I didn’t know how to express my emotions and I was so anxious and depressed I didn’t want to be alive anymore. Now that I’ve completed the program I have learned some great coping skills and I also have become self-aware as to when I’m avoiding tasks. Still a lot of work ahead but I feel my anxiety and depression have lowered tremendously. For anyone thinking about starting the program I would say do it and don’t look back
Before starting Iop at Renew, I let my emotions control and run my life and cause distress. I was always living in the past or trying to live in the future. Causing me to worry and be depressed. I thought my emotions were who I was. I was only looking at one part of things and then of those things are truly who I am. I’m not sadness, depression or anxiety. I still struggle every day but I know how to give it less power over me. Now that I completed the program I’ve learned that I can’t control my emotions but we have learned to live in harmony. I’m still going to live with my depression and anxiety but I now have tools to use to help me get through those at times. I’m living in the moment now. Yes, I still worry about the future and dwell in the past but I have matured some as well. I don’t overreact as much as I used to, I’m more resilient, stronger in a way. I’m so thankful that I have been through this program it has definitely been a very good experience. What I say to someone who’s thinking about starting the program do it! It won’t hurt at all. But you have to put effort into it to receive any help on the skills you learn. The more you put in the better the end result will be so try. Don’t give up!
Before I started the Anxiety group at Renew, I felt completely out of control of my thoughts/emotions, had panic attacks 1-3 times a week, couldn’t concentrate at work, had a fear of losing my children’s relationships, had a fear of never doing anything right, not worthy of love and connection, wanted to hide from the world, run away from it all. I avoided communication with ex-husband due to fear of being wrong or rejection. Now that I’ve completed the program, I have a new outlook on life! My thoughts and feels are not facts. I am no longer afraid to communicate. My ex-husband and I have reconciled and are on a full path to recovering our marriage. We are open and honest. I am not afraid of his feedback, in fact, welcome it so I can use self as observer and see if it’s something I need to work on or just “his” feelings. I have find ‘my’ values again and learned how to move towards them. What I would say to someone who is thinking about starting the program: do it! Anxiety or not, this program could benefit anyone to become a person they desire to be and provide tools to cope with past thoughts/feelings, but also for future unknowns!
Before I started IOP at Renew, I was experiencing panic attacks throughout the day. I seemed to be experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, depression throughout the day mainly related to my job (for 36 years). I go to work at a job that I’m good at but I’ve come to hate as it tears me down and weighs on me constantly. I see no way out and cannot do anything else. Sometimes I think the only way out is death (natural or suicide). It has impacted my personal life - overwhelmed at home, no boundaries, no friends, no hobbies, no fun, no hope! I essentially exist to work - the pressure is suffocating. I pray every morning for something to happen that can end my pain (death, cancer, heart attack) - hoping a reason arises that can allow me to stop. Now that I’ve completed group, I at least recognize that these thoughts are just thoughts. They are not reality. I understand I’ve let my life morph into a “boundaryless” existence. Family members, coworkers, customers push into my life and I assume their issues and make them mine. I need to set boundaries - but it is hard when you want to help. I need to come to a work conclusion and use the resources available to me if needed to move on. What I would say to someone who is thinking about starting the program is this group is filled with some really smart and dynamic people. Smart people have problems too. You are not alone with your anxiety and stress. While the root of our problems may be different, we are all in the midst of regaining hope for our future. While this program may not provide a cure for our struggles, it has provided some tools and coping mechanisms to keep us engaged and on the road to whatever goals we’ve set!
Before starting the Anxiety program at Renew, I was discharged from an inpatient facility and came to Renew as a step-down from that to continue my healing. I struggled on a daily basis with anxiety. My anxiety was keeping me from engaging in daily activities and relationships. I also suffered from depression. Before going to the inpatient facility I was having suicidal thoughts. Now that I have completed the program, my life is improving. I am doing more. I still have daily anxiety, but have been trying to apply the strategies I’m learning. I’m starting to notice some periods of lessened anxiety. What I would say to someone who is thinking about starting the program: you have to be willing to do the work and put in the time and effort.
Before starting the Anxiety program at Renew, I was very lost. Sleeping all day and night. Constant negative thoughts all the moments I was awake. For an entire month straight my mom ran my household, taking me to appointments, kids to school and their activities. I didn’t participate in any family activities. No church, no family game nights, nothing. My marriage was crumbling. As I am going through my own issues, my husband was struggling with alcoholism. I couldn’t work or face my boss who is a bully. I really thought I just wanted to disappear. I wanted a pill or something to just take away my anxiety and depression. After completing the program, my life still has challenges and struggles that I will continue to work through. I now understand that there isn’t a magic pill to fix me. I accept that anxiety will always be here. I learned to find my values and live for them. As thoughts and emotions come I now know it is okay to take a moment to think about what my values are and what I can do to work through the anxious issues to do what is best for myself and my family. I now enjoy activities with my family, am ready to get back to work and can get up and stay up throughout the day. To people thinking about starting the program, definitely do it! It will seem like a foreign language for a while, maybe even a few weeks, but when it clicks you will have a better quality of life. Take notes, read and re-read them throughout the program.
Before Renew, social activities were overwhelming to me. My preference was to isolate myself when I was not working and sleep as much as possible. I could not think of anything that I would enjoy doing, or any hobbies that interested me. After attending the program, I am enjoying being relaxed and creative once again. I have redecorated a room in our house and made several “pictures” for my classroom next year. I am waking up each morning with a to-do list that I created the night before to get my day started. I have a specific plan to recognize the beginning signs of my depression and begin TMS before I get to the point I was in May. To anyone thinking of starting the program: this is an excellent opportunity to focus on your goals. This program provides you with immediate resources that align with your personal values. Everyone has valuable experience to share.
Before Renew, my depression was severe and I had anxiety surrounding it. My thoughts and feelings consumed me and controlled my life. After completing the program, I have learned that I can control my thinking as so that my thoughts do not control me. I am more aware of my thoughts and feelings and now know to see them as such. For those thinking of starting the program, I would say it’s very hopeful in order to deal with anxiety, but that it would be most beneficial if your main problem is anxiety.
Before I started the anxiety IOP at Renew my life was super chaotic. All I did was work, eat, sleep a little, and hardly any time with my husband. By choice, I would work nonstop and everything had to be perfect. I would get so mad at myself if I made the tiniest mistake. I would check my lesson plans and email multiple times. I was worried that I was a horrible teacher and not doing enough. I also felt I was a horrible wife. My husband puts up with a lot and he is a good man. I felt like I was unworthy because he did so much for me and I did not do much for him. In 2018, I was into car accidents. Neither of them were my fault. I was scared about driving in the dark and totaling another vehicle. I knew if I did not do something, I was going to go into a dark hole that I was I'm sure I could get out of. I can only go so fast before something stopped me. My life after Renew has changed myself and my family for the better. When I went into the program I thought I was going to be the only one who changes, but in fact, my husband has changed to. And I communicate effectively and healthily . Furthermore, we are enjoying each other. In addition, I have learned about boundaries. I've learned I need to create boundaries in order to have a successful home and work life. I am more aware of my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I've used the 30 steps in and anxiety provoking situation. I can acknowledge a feeling/thought, then except and/or diffuse, and finally commit to action based on my values. Furthermore, I am present in the moment when talking to friends, family or others. Before, are you I think so much about the future and question every decision. It was so tiring. I could not take a breath. I can now breathe and be myself. My husband, coworkers, family, friends, boss and others have noticed a change in me since I started Renew. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I realized and accepted that I do not need to be perfect to be loved. I also do not question or wonder when I get a compliment. I am over all happy and excited to live life. The last thing I learned is that I may have anxiety, but the anxiety is not me! Anyone who is thinking about starting the program I would say do it! You will not regret it . I am not going to lie, it was challenging and tested me. However, it made me a stronger person, wife, friend and teacher. For once in my life, I do not feel alone. Instead, I feel accepted and safe. They were moments when I got super hard and I wanted to quit. Yet, I am glad I did not. I stayed and got better. I learned a ton and excited to start living a life without the fear controlling my life. Anxiety does not go away but if you do the program, the anxiety becomes background eyes. I drove two hours to get to Renew! It was totally worth it! It changed my life.
Before Renew, I was a nervous wreck about everything. My relationships with everyone were tough. Most of my fears deal with money, getting a job or ending up like my mother in suicide. I was so fearful to ask what I needed because I felt just like my mom dealing with anxiety and depression. My days were long and I was exhausted and not sleeping at all. I was very close to giving up. Now that I’ve completed the program, Renew has taught me how to deal with many different fears and anxieties and allowed em to realize I had more fears and anxieties than I knew of. Renew teaching has forced my mind to take a break and allow for a new type of feeling and understanding of what I am dealing with. The tools will forever change your life and allow for you to combat anxiety and depression as a whole using ACT. I would tell someone wanting to start: don’t give up. This program is tough but allows your mind to learn how to break and relax. No anxiety and depression is worth having knowing I have the tools I learned at Renew.
Before Renew, I slept a lot. I didn’t take care of myself. I did the minimum to get by. My anxiety and depression hit an all time high and I considered checking myself in somewhere for help. The anxiety became debilitating and it became hard to leave the house or even my bed. Now, I have the tools needed to live with and work through my anxiety. I can name my shame story. I know and practice my values. I have hope. To someone thinking about the program, I would say its a commitment, but it’s totally worth it. Put 100% into the program in order to get the most out of it.
Before I started the program my life was in major need of a change. I was spending the majority of my time in survival mode and I knew I didn’t want to spend any more time there; something had to change. There were two options and only one was a real option. I needed to find a way to cope with my crippling depression and anxiety. After having a panic attack in front of my best friend, she pushed me to seek treatment beyond my primary care physician. I wasn’t sure where to turn. I was isolating myself from all relationships and definitely not trying to make new ones. It was nearly impossible to get out of bed in the morning to go to work. I had tried many different medicines and therapists but nothing was breaking the cycle. I knew it was time to try something new. My life is 100% better than it was before the program. I now understand that my depression and anxiety may always be a part of my life, but they do not need to consume my whole life. I am aware that I cannot control my feelings and emotions but they do not control who I am and how I live my life. With my focus on values and goals, I can ride the wave of whatever emotion comes and continue with the task at hand as long as what I am doing is working toward a value or goal. If you’re thinking about starting the program, just do it! It will be hard and awkward at times. You will feel like you don’t know what anyone is talking about for the first two weeks, but continue on! Once everything clicks, it really clicks! The education about wat anxiety, shame, boundaries and values are is invaluable and everyone, regardless of anxiety level, should hear about it. The multitude of coping skills that ACT offers are taught in a way that I would have never imagined practicing. Every learned skill may not feel comfortable, but you will find the ones that work best for you and will suddenly not know how you lived without that skill. It is definitely worth the time and financial investment to do this program. Not getting help is hard, getting help is hard. Choose your hard! I would make the choice to do this program again in a heartbeat.
Before Renew, I just stopped doing all school work. I stopped going to classes. I stopped talking to friends. Thought of suicide almost every night. I couldn’t leave my room. I stopped going to baseball. After completing the program, I’m ready for school again. I know how to control my thoughts and how I deal with them. I feel like I can open up to others and connect with them more. To someone thinking of starting the program: Just open up. Don’t be afraid to say anything. Everyone here is here to help and learn just like you are. Make friends and be comfortable.
Before I started the program at Renew, I was terrified every day of having a panic attack or getting sick. I had a strong phobia of throwing up that kept me from eating enough, going out and enjoying my life. I was having multiple panic attacks a week, and was constantly afraid. I knew that I couldn’t keep living like I was. I was missing out on happiness, friends and opportunities. I couldn’t work or even apply to jobs because it seemed impossible. Now that I’ve completed the Anxiety Program at Renew, I know that I can handle my anxiety and fears and stop letting them keep me from fully living my life. I’ve worked really hard on accepting my anxiety, feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations, and in turn, my panic attacks have gone way down, I sleep better, eat better, and my phobia doesn’t have as strong of a hold on me. I know now that I can handle working, and I’ve started looking for a job again. Overall, I feel stronger, happier, more calm and confident that even though I may always have anxiety, I have skills and people to support me. I would say that if you’re in a place where you’re considering attending, you should do it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your life is like, or what your anxiety looks like - this program will give you skills and a support system that can greatly improve your life and help you live more fully. It’s important to really commit yourself toward getting better (do the activities and homework) and hold yourself accountable, because if you do, you will experience positive change.
Before attending the IOP at Renew, I had debilitating anxiety and depression. I took FMLA from my job because I was unable to handle the challenges of the day and keep up, in my opinion. I felt incompetent and overwhelmed. I had daily panic attacks and felt I was just a shell of the person I was before. I isolated myself from friends, situations and life. My depression made me feel hopeless and without motivation. I saw now way out of feeling this way. I lost my sense of humor and lost a sense of purpose for life. I felt unrecognizable. I could not go anywhere on my own. Someone had to be with me at all times. I lost the ability to have conversations. After completing the Anxiety Program at Renew, I have been able to engage with others and enjoy the activities I used to enjoy. I spend time with my friends and family. I garden and cook and enjoy my life and see a future. I have gone back to work. I feel positive about the future and my ability to cope. I feel more confident knowing I have skills to use when my anxiety and depression flares up. I have gained the confidence that I lost. To someone thinking about starting the program: go for it. I never imagined just going to classes could save my life, but it did and I am grateful. Do your homework, be kind to yourself and trust everything will get better.
Before Renew, I was pretty reserved about my anxiety, only a select few people knew. I would spend hours alone in my dorm room. I struggled to follow through on commitments to class and friends, even things I typically enjoyed. I would shut down when my anxiety got bad enough. I would feel hopeless about the future and let my worst expectations control me. Now that I’ve completed the anxiety program at Renew, I am more open about my problems to anyone. I spend a lot more time around people, talking and relating to those I care about. I am more hopeful, happy and excited about my future. To anyone thinking about starting the program, the more you’re willing to verbalize that you have a problem and that you want to improve, the more improvement you will see. No matter how many times you fail to complete the homework for the class, if you care about what you’re assigning yourself, keep trying. Give yourself grace.
Before I started at Renew I was lost. A deep seated fear of rejection and failure kept me locked away in my room. I would frequently have breakdowns which would consist of uncontrollable shaking and crying. I couldn’t get through a day of work and any interaction with others I avoided completely. Almost all of the relationships in my life became non-existent and I felt worthless and unworthy because of it. I was ready to die, I thought that if I had to live with this, seemingly eternal, pain that I would rather just end my life now. I had no confidence in my past, present or future. I had no confidence in myself at all. Now that my time at Renew is coming to an end, I’m happy to say that I’m in a much better place in my life. I have more confidence in myself. I am capable of going out and interacting with a lot less uncertainty and pessimism. I have redeveloped a small sense of pride in my own accomplishments, and no longer just hide away from the world. I still have a lot of work ahead of me but I feel confident that I can get to where I want to be. I would recommend Renew completely. The process is, at best, uncomfortable at the start, but as you grow and connect becomes an amazing experience. I’d say to go in and be as open as you can with your feelings and emotions, push yourself, and I think most importantly is to interact and connect with the others in your group. Altogether my experience was unforgettable. It wasn’t always the best of times but in my eyes it was something I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of.
Before I started IOP my life was a disaster! My relationship with my children was toxic. I felt I had to control and have an answer for all their problems. My marriage was struggling because I wanted my husband to fix it all. Most of my days were spent laying in my room crying, feeling there was no hope for me or my family. Since I completed the program my life is going in the right direction after a long time of suffering. I have learned to use my husband as a person to lean on for help, love and friendship. I don’t expect him to always be the ‘fix it’ guy. I have worked very hard on boundaries with my children, accepting them and their situations for what they are. I have seen great strides in this. I still need to work on my fear with my son, but there has been improvement that I will continue to work hard on. For those thinking of starting, the first couple sessions are intimidating, but don’t give up. You get more relaxed and will realize this is the place that can help you. Don’t be afraid to open up because everyone will show you acceptance and not judge you for your problems.
I was in crisis before coming to the anxiety IOP. I have lived with anxiety and panic for 20 years and prior to joining this group I relapsed. I was afraid of everything, felt keyed up constantly, cried all the time and had closed myself off from everyone outside of work and my family. It was very difficult to get through my work day and most evenings I spent with my mom and dad. I had come back to the place I never wanted to be at again and I felt like I was never going to get better. Each day felt miserable and it took everything I had to try to stay in the present moment and just keep going. Now, I have my life back. Some days are still hard but the way I handle it is very different. I am more content, much happier and much less afraid. I have also learned things about me that I never realized contributed to my feelings and knowing all of these new things gives me more ways to maintain a healthy balance and continue through recovery. To someone thinking about starting the program: It WILL get better!! It will never go away and in order to move forward you have to be okay with that. The program is overwhelming at times. New terms, new ways to think, homework, chance, late nights. Give yourself grace - as much grace as you need but don’t quit. Nobody ever gets anything worth anything without giving some work in return. Your mental health is one of the most fundamental parts of your being and you owe it to yourself to take care of YOU.
Before the IOP, I had been on a healing journey the last 4 years of struggles taking a hormone suppressant to stop estrogen from feeding the tumors. I’m an 8 year Ovarian cancer survivor and after 4 major belly surgeries, for the first time in 8 years, I am in remission. In 2018, I had major loss in my physical and mental health, and death and relationship loss in my family. I was so stressed I was scratching my skin from rashes, I was critical of myself, as I had quit my job (a 35 year career) in computers and I became an empty nester. It has been extremely difficult to be alone as I was a long-term illness patient that was codependent 90% of the time. I would wake up crying and my mind would race and be negative most days. My most important relationships were damaged and I came to this IOP for hopes for help. Around week 3 of IOP, my mind began to understand and internalize the ACT skills and I became more value-driven being able to use defusion. Today, I wake up calm and am able to manage my mind and better control my emotions. As a result, my skin is healing and I scratch much less. The depression is now recognizable when creeping into my mind and I can do self-care to alleviate and lessen the impact on my day. I realize that my thoughts of being alone is just mostly the depression talking, trying to take control and be negative; this realization has helped me to be creative and use my wise mind to do my hobbies that bring me pleasure and happiness. My close family is happier, too. To someone thinking about starting the program: wow… this is an amazing program that has boosted my recovery of depression and anxiety. It has helped me open my mind up to new ways of thinking. What I’ve learned is that there is always hope in healing myself if I have the courage to know and follow my values daily. I know keeping these values close to my heart is what will keep me strong in my faith, my heart, and as part of my lifestyle to continued healing and happiness. I hope you do the same for yourself as I have been able to do for myself. Thanks to our superb teachers and excellent students for making this experience so enriching and memorable.
Before Renew, my life felt overwhelming. I couldn’t go to work. I was having multiple multi-hour panic attacks per day. I would snap at people unintentionally and I felt like I never had bandwidth to do anything because I was dealing with too much stress. After completing the IOP program, I feel comfortable and energized again. I’m going to work, performing well and I do not feel stressed 24/7. I’ve improved my relationship with my significant other and my daughter. I am able to go out with my family and be engaged, not just present. I would say to participate in every activity, especially the ones that make you nervous. This is where my “aha” moments came. Look forward to shame day.
Before I started anxiety iOP at Renew, I did not drive and I went nowhere alone. I was in a constant heightened state of awareness. Just waiting for something to drop. I have a large enmeshed family who I love but with whom I sometimes engage in unhealthy entanglements. I would experience panic and it would present with symptoms amazingly similar to my heart ailments to the point of ending up in the ER and an overnight stay at a hospital for testing that proved to be my anxiety. The cost for my insurance was $16,000 and the personal cost to my family was $600.00. Not to mention the worry and concern for all of us. I have started on a path to recovery. I know I still have a lot of work still to do but I know I am on a path that I refuse to back track on. I don’t want to be afraid all the time. I don’t want anyone else responsible for my peace ever again. Now that I’ve completed the program, I drive short distances if I need to. I also went to a movie alone and enjoyed my time without guilt. I am worth of love and happiness. I will never again worry about what someone else thinks about me. I also am aware that I must always be mindful of what is mine to do and what isn’t my responsibility. I know I have a long way to go but I also know I have come a long way! To someone starting the program: I would tell anyone interested to do it. It isn’t a magic bullet you have to put in the work, be honest and not be afraid of sharing your weaknesses and strengths. I know that no one is perfect and I can’t fix anyone else. I can only address my own journey and tell you I am much improved due to the program. The people I love were affected too. I can’t promise this for you but I can say that there is a peace in my home that didn’t exist before my experience with Renew. I hope to continue with aftercare and therapy and even with the medications prescribed for me. I feel better and my family interacts with more respect for me and each other. Thank you Renew.
Before Renew, I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a good portion of my life. After being raped 1.5 years ago, I was on a downward spiral and depression and anxiety were affecting every aspect of my life. I was severely depressed, and I spent the majority of my time thinking about how badly I wanted to die. I would nap for 3+ hours nearly every day because I just wanted to not exist for awhile. I hated going to work and being there would often heighten my anxiety. I isolated myself from friends, and I just tried to pretend like everything was fine. I abused substances regularly and would become more intensely suicidal while under the influence. I was not capable of allowing myself to feel feelings and I always suppressed them. I avoided anything that made me the slightest bit anxious - cleaning my room, checking my bank account or grades, homework, things for my future. I didn’t care about anything or anyone and I was very numb to everything. I was ready to die and I was waiting until I had enough energy to actually attempt suicide. Now that I have completed the Anxiety Program at Renew, I check my bank account and my grades. I don’t get as trapped in my thoughts anymore, I’m able to slow myself down and use the skills I’ve learned to defuse or accept them. I like being around people again. I don’t find myself getting as overwhelmed in social situations as I once did. I’m able to prioritize my responsibilities and actually accomplishing them, rather than getting overwhelmed and sleeping for the whole day. I’m able to have some feelings now, and allow myself to be more accepting of them. I’m a lot less numb now, and that’s a really different feeling for me that I never thought I’d have. When my therapist was telling me about this program, she said “Caroline, I think this could save your life,”. She was right, and it did, and for the first time in a really long time, I’m actually glad I’m still alive. To anyone thinking about starting the program, even if you’re convinced it won’t help you and you’ll never get better, do it. Put in the work, bad days are inevitable, but don’t get discouraged by them. It’s going to be hard, but try your best to open up and be vulnerable. Interact with others in the group. It’s really valuable to have social support from people who are struggling with a lot of the same things you are. Appreciate every single small bit of progress you’ve made, because it all matters and it’s all important.
Before this program, I had lost myself in the story of sorrow. I slept alone on the bathroom floor more often than I did in my own bed and had repeatedly shown myself a cruelty I didn’t know I was capable of. I felt like my brightest day was still duller than my friends’ darkest days. I wanted to trust so badly, but found myself living in a state of perpetual self-defense. My mind was focused on worst case scenarios and emergency exits. Before this class, I could count the number of times I’d cried in front of others on one hand. My existence was linked together with shame and it was exhausting. I was taking up space and feeling guilty for it. I was settling for a life I didn’t want but thought I deserved. I didn’t know how to open up to anyone and if eyes are the windows to the soul, I had shut the blinds and turned out the lights. I knew no enemy greater than my apathy. I shut out emotions and refused to feel them. I told myself it was the only way to survive and maybe at the time that was true. I thought to know me more was to love me less, so I kept to myself. I was convinced I was just dealt a permanently horrible hand in life and someone was bound to receive it. I was wrapped up in my identity in extreme anxiety and debilitating depression. I tricked myself into believing I would always be this way no matter how hard I’d try to change things. This hopeless attitude that I held was so ingrained into my brain that I treated it as absolute fact and left no room for debate. I spent a lot of my time running away. Running from thoughts, feelings, memories and people. I avoided them the best that I could and that was how I controlled those situations. I felt myself slipping through the cracks in the mask I’d carefully created for others as well as myself. I needed to get better but the thought of stability terrified me, because I had no idea who I would be under all the layers of hurt, misfortune, and heartache. I was comfortable in my despair because it was familiar and from there I made a home in my suffering. When I was a teenager, it felt very revolutionary to be cruel to myself, like some kind of slow passive protest against how much everything hurt. I thought to speak negatively about myself was humility, but it wasn’t, it was humiliation and I thought sealing myself away from humanity was self-preservation. I starved myself of sleep and food and tenderness because it felt right and just. It felt angry and sharp and radical and I wanted to be those things. I romanticized the melancholy in my misery and I allowed myself to be silently devoured by the flames for so long and I thought to myself, what a lovely way to burn. AFTER IOP - at some point during this class, it all clicked. I allowed myself to cry and it started to make sense. I saw things through a lens of compassionate curiosity and I learned that it was okay to let people see you ache sometimes. I realized that the world already works pretty hard to cut into you, long before you learn how to do it on your own. The therapists here provided a safe place for me to drop my baggage and heal. They showed me empathy, something I wasn’t used to receiving. Without this class, I wouldn’t have been able to confront the faces I refused to see in the mirror. Now I can acknowledge, accept and even embrace them. Even if I was dealt a bad hand in life, I still have the option to play it out the best I can. My current situation is not my final destination and I will continue to keep moving forward. Looking back and seeing the tools I’ve been taught, I feel like I can confidently say that I trust one day I’ll be able to wear it all on my sleeve and I will word things just right. I sleep heavily now, knowing the past is gone and cannot harm me anymore. Even though the future approaches quickly, it will always settle in as the gentle present, just as it always has. I can cope with that. I have so much gratitude and love in my heart that words still seem inadequate. TO ANYONE THINKING OF STARTING THE PROGRAM: Do it. I thought I would go through this class with my head down and my mouth shut. I would take notes and that would be it, but that is not what this program is. You will encounter fear and anxiety head-on, but you are never alone in the process. These people genuinely care about you. You will be pushed, btu you always have a choice. Just remember that change rarely comes from a place of comfort. You are capable of much more than you think you are and sometimes it takes a room full of strangers to show you that. The people in this class, the therapists… they see you. Regardless of where you’re coming from or what you’re brining, know that you are seen and you are heard. There is spoken love here that has no strings attached. Everyone you meet in life is going to teach you something no matter how small and the therapists here will teach you things that would be enough to cover multiple lifetimes. You will feel for the people here and they will return that kindness even if you see yourself as undeserving of it.
To be honest when I started I do not remember much. My feelings were all tangled together and I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought this is the end of me. I was tired of fighting for myself, confused, depressed and not sure if I can take it anymore. I was lost and depressed. My anxiety took over and I did not have control over myself anymore. I came here with no confidence it was going to work. I struggled and I fought back. Now that I’ve completed the program, I will not lie and say my life is totally changed and full of roses. I still have tangled feelings but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I learned a lot of tools and ways to guide me with my new journey to continue to put one step forward everyday till the end of the tunnel. I learn to value myself by being vulnerable and open to myself and the people around me to let them know my struggle and not to keep it inside because keeping it inside was the most harmful thing I did to myself. To anyone thinking of starting the program, I look forward to my new journey using my new tools that I learned here. I am thankful to all the people who were in this with me for listening, guiding and supporting. I hope my roses at the end of my tunnel will be white because that was my mother’s favorite color. It might be confusing at the beginning or overwhelming and sometimes makes you cry but it is worth it at the end because it will help you find what you value and to love what you love and give you the guidance to start your journey and I hope your tunnel is shorter than mine.
Before IOP I was missing a big piece of the puzzle in my recovery. I knew where I had been, and I knew where I wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get there. I felt like I was doing everything right. I saw my therapist, dietitian, psychiatrist, and physician on a weekly basis trying to manage the many ways anxiety consumed me. Every day was either good or bad, and I often lost the good days to the anticipatory anxiety of bad ones that hadn’t even happened yet. I spent all of my free time worrying about the next time I would have to leave the house. Whether I was going to the grocery store, therapy, class, or to see friends, I felt suffocated by the shame of simply existing. The weight all of this was my normal, but I was sick of carrying it. When I wasn’t isolating myself, I was playing wac-a-mole with my eating disorder, engaging with my OCD, and obsessively trying to be the glue that filled the cracks in all of my relationships. I felt like I was always trying to hold someone else above water when I couldn’t even swim. There was always a part of me that believed growing up so completely unwanted by my parents was the source of what made me good. I was kinder, more empathetic, and learned to see and understand people in a way that felt supernatural at times. Unfortunately, I believed this to be the only thing that made me good. I saw this as evidence that there was no room for me in the world. I was desperate to find the magic wand that would make me “normal.” I hoped that if I could just make myself small enough, physically or emotionally, that I would somehow fit a mold that doesn’t even exist.
What my life is like now that I have completed the Anxiety Program at Renew:
I still haven’t found the magic wand, but for the first time ever, I am okay with that. I am both back to working and attending my classes, which was my primary goal in treatment here. While it’s relieving to have found a sense of normalcy, it’s still incredibly draining and difficult in ways I forgot it would be. However, this last Sunday, after working a few days in a row, I found myself getting out of bed, making breakfast, lighting some candles, and listening to an audio book without pausing to check the time. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I had to work 6 hours later. I wasn’t worried about vacuuming or showering or any of my normal compulsions. I wasn’t wondering how late my wife would sleep in if I didn’t try to wake her up. I just was. Normally when my shifts were scheduled back-to-back, I allowed them to close in on me, sucking the air out of my free time like a vacuum. I constantly thought about something I did wrong yesterday or something I would certainly do wrong tomorrow. I would get so caught up in mentally and emotionally preparing myself for the next time I had to click “clock in” that I self-sabotaged and stopped functioning all together. Don’t get me wrong, not every morning is all candles and freshly baked muffins, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was completely and totally living in the present and enjoying it for what it was. I wasn’t worrying about the inevitable moment my peaceful morning would come to an end and I wasn’t wondering if my meds had finally done their job, making me perfectly happy forever. Over the last six weeks, these moments of true mindfulness and flexible self-care have come closer and closer together, which met my second goal in treatment. I could go on for quite a while about all of the ways regularly practicing acceptance, defusion, commitment, gratitude, and mindfulness has shown up for me at work, in school, and in my relationships. There have been many moments, like the one I had Sunday, that I want to share with you guys because I’m just so proud of myself and feel excited for the ways I anticipate these skills to help in the future. Instead, I trust and hope that all of you will find your own moments, no matter how different they look, as you experience this program yourself. Meanwhile, I will continue pushing myself by acting on my values and practicing exposures with my outpatient therapy and the after care program.
What I would say to someone who is thinking about starting the program:
I would tell someone considering this program that several months ago, when my therapist first brought group support to my attention, I said I could not imagine doing any more therapy. How could I invest another hour, much less nine a week, into my treatment? I felt isolated by the work I was already doing to manage and prioritize my mental health. I struggled with the fact that my family, friends, and peers never seemed to understand what I was going through, why I was trying so hard, or why I had to try at all. I had no idea that this was exactly why I needed this program. Even though most of them can be found online, in a book, or in your therapist’s office, the activities, skills, and tools you will pocket over the next six weeks will be invaluable to you. What cannot be replicated, however, is the power of the group. The power of this group. These twelve or thirteen individuals in the room right now. My advice to you is to not take this for granted. Show up, be present, and engage with your group mates. See and be seen. Hear and be heard. It may not feel like it right away, when you sit down in this room, surrounded by a dozen anxious strangers, but the weight we carry makes us so much more alike than different. Knowing you are truly not alone on this journey will be worth every penny, every minute, and every emotion you invest. I encourage you to give it at least two weeks and to give it what you can, because I believe you will get everything you give, and then some, back in the end. - Emily B
Before starting the IOP at renew, my life didn’t feel much like a life. I wasn’t living, I was surviving. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my adult life, but the place where I had ended up at this moment, stemming from 18 months of severe highs and lows, felt like the lowest point possible-I was at rock bottom. During these 18 months I did what I thought was “battling my demons”. I took time off work, I went to therapy, I saw my psychiatrist and primary care physician as much as possible, but with each passing day and every medication changed my body and mind felt more foreign than ever before. When you are struggling with mental health disorders you feel lost and stuck. The voices are screaming at you from inside, and the more you fight to silence them, the stronger they get. Most of the time you can’t even articulate what you are feeling, causing you to feel more isolated and alone than you could possibly imagine. I was looking at my life through the lens of depression and anxiety. Everything felt like it was “happening to me”. I was completely out of control both my mind and body. I had been on 8 medications within a 2 year span, dealing with every symptom and side effect you could imagine. Some medications would help quiet the depressive thoughts but made me so anxious I was no longer comfortable doing things that I was able to do my entire life-like be in social situations, running errands, going to the doctor. I would sense the feeling of anxiety coming on and all I could do was get out wherever I was. My brain was telling me “you’re not safe here, GET OUT NOW.” I started having panic attacks. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I was scared of everything. Scared to be alone with my thoughts. Even more scared to acknowledge the thoughts, and the most terrifying of all-telling those thoughts to others. I really didn’t want to believe what I had become. Who wants to tell the people they love they feel “like a burden” or “I’m never going to get better, and this is just what my life is right now.” It’s a constant battle between wanting to scream out at the people around you that you need help but also wanting to keep those thoughts inside because it’s not those people’s battle to fight. They have their own #, they don’t need yours too. I was so lost. I’m crying as I type this thinking of that poor girl, so tired and scared and at the mercy of her demons. I was at the point where I was ready to give up. Not in the sense that I would do anything to harm myself, but I had nothing else in me to fight back. I had tried all of the things people were telling me “I should do” and I was feeling no relief. The waves were crashing over me and I had no other choice than to let it. That’s when my therapist told me about Renew. It sounded doable. Before that my partner and I had researched inpatient programs where I would go somewhere (probably out of state) and stay anywhere from 2-6 weeks living and healing there. I wasn’t against this approach, but I had a feeling that there was another option I could try before going to that extreme. Turns out, my therapist wasn’t the only one thinking of this options for me and at my primary care appointment the following day, she brought up Renew. She told me about the commitment it would be and she had heard amazing things from people who had gone through it. At this point, I had nothing telling me not to, other than the voices inside saying “you can try it, but I doubt it’s going to do anything”, but I was so miserable and tired, even those voices didn’t matter. A week later I was taking my first steps of healing, walking through the door of Renew, terrified and broken. But what I saw walking into the group room (and every session following that night) was something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I saw people like me, broken and tired in their own way looking at me with soft smiles of empathy and understanding and most importantly, hope. Oh my god, where do I even begin? Okay let’s start with the easy stuff. Remember when I had mentioned that in the past 2 years I had tried and been on over 8 medications to deal with my depression/anxiety? Well through therapy, I was able to wean off of every single one of them. My goal was not, and is not to be off meds, but it was to find my baseline. When you go from one medication to the next to the next, you tend to lose the idea of what you were like before all of those medications. I’d go into my doctor and only be able to tell her that “this one wasn’t working for me” without being able to articulate why. I felt like I was in a tornado of side effects and each time I prescribed something else, it was a new learning curve. So when starting the program, one of my biggest goals was to be able to wean off the meds and find myself again. I knew this was the right time and right place because I had support all around me. Not only am I sleeping regularly again, but I feel so much more clear in what I need out of medication. I was originally put on depression meds when I was first diagnosed and those worked for years, until they didn’t and my starting point had become so blurred that I had no idea what it was I needed. Now, I can proudly say that I am not only counting down the days until the psychiatrist appointment coming up, but that I am confident in what I need and how to communicate that. Which is HUGE.
New comes the progress I’ve made in regards to my thoughts, feelings and emotions. All of them. The good, the bad, and the UGLY. Before starting, my idea of dealing with the negative thoughts and emotions was to avoid and combat. If I didn’t acknowledge the thought how could it get worse? WRONG. Alright fine, instead of avoiding the thought, I’ll do everything in my power to fight it. I;m going to give it all I have to show it that it’s not true. But wait, I guess it could be true… now that I think of it, here are all the times before when this could have been true! WRONG. And this is when the ACT therapy comes in. ACT stands for acceptance and commitment therapy and it does exactly what it says. It helps you learn that radical acceptance is the first step in healing, and that no matter what that you are having-it’s OK. I learned that our thoughts don’t define us, and are just thoughts. They come, they go, sometimes lasting longer than we want, but no matter what, it is OK and I am still me. One of my favorite things I’ve taken from therapy is that I am me, whether I’m having a good day or bad day. I’m the sky, and the thoughts and emotions I have are the weather. The weather changes, sometimes unexpectedly, but no matter what the sky is always going to be there, and the sun will come out again, because it always does. When dealing with depression this kind of self-compassion and acceptance seems like a rebel act. You brain is telling you that you’re never going to get better and these negative feelings are who you are down to your core. But it’s simply not true. Through defusion skills we’ve learned in class I’ve been able to acknowledge my thoughts are what they are--thoughts, and to be able to sit with them without labeling them as good or bad. That’s the thing, no thought or feeling or emotion is good or bad, true or untrue. Instead we think of them as helpful or unhelpful. Not everything is black and white, and we do so much more harm to ourselves by labeling them as such. I’ve noticed a significant change in being able to be kind to myself even in my darkest times because I know that even though I’m having the negative thought, I know that the thought will eventually pass, and it doesn’t define who I am or the progress I’ve made. This has, in turn, made my life so much lighter and give me so much power. I go out of my way to do things to “expose myself” so I can continue to grow, knowing that it’s OK if I feel sad or anxious along the way. I know what I value and find comfort in the fact that when I feel lost, the best next thing to do is simply-act on those values no matter how small the act might be. I really am having a hard time summarizing everything I’ve taken from this program because it is truly life-changing, but what I can say is this: I feel at peace. I feel at peace with myself, with my past, with my thoughts either helpful or unhelpful and especially with the future. I’m excited to live and even more excited to continue this journey of healing and growth. Do it. And don’t wait until you’re “ready”. You will never be “ready.” As humans we talk ourselves out of so many things by making up reasons or excuses why things wouldn’t work for us right now. And that is especially true for people with mental health disorders. We can barely get ourselves to go out in public for fear of being judged, let alone 6 weeks of intense group therapy, no way! But the question of “are you ready” isn’t the one you should be asking yourself. Instead, especially for me, the question I had to answer was-”are you comfortable living the way you are living right now? And if not, are you willing to put in the work to change that? If you are like me, you’d get nauseous at the idea of living the rest of your life the way I was. I legitimately could not see the future, because I was so exhausted and didn’t see the point. But that’s the thing- I didn’t want to end my life, so I made the hardest decision of my life- I chose to head on and heal. Through this program I was able to get my life back. To get my mind back. To get my love and compassion for myself back-all while meeting and getting to know the struggles of the strongest people I’ve ever known. That’s the thing, we all end up down at some point in our lives, and have to make the terrifying choice to fight or to let it win. Our struggles may look different on the outside, but our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are the same. I can’t thank the therapists and my groupmates enough for what they have given me in the past 6 weeks. To have a space where you can share your deepest darkest fears and have them met with words of affirmation and smiles of understanding is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. The process is tough and uncomfortable, but so worth it. I owe my life to the people in that room at 119th in Blackbob and will continue living and working toward cultivating that same atmosphere of love and understanding to those around me, because we all deserve it. - Mary M.
Before I came to renew... (more than a year ago)... I had trouble with being indoors. That seems like a bit of an overstatement but I was physically terrified of being in stores, getting haircuts, being anywhere where I didn't know people... being "indoors" meant I had to pay more attention to how my body felt, my thoughts and feelings in relation to other people who were also indoors... it meant I had to wade through the muck of living life with the limited tools I had. I avoided everything that went with the indoors: life, relationships, joy, family... and isolated myself so I would not hurt others and could continue to punish myself for not living up to societal, family-imposed or other standards I had built up over time. There was not a gray area to anything. If I let down someone (myself, a significant other, a job, family) I'd run and bury myself in whatever type of avoidance strategy I could. My life was split between drinking to get away, over-working to get away, intense bouts of depression, perfectionism, self-doubt, and the dread of waking up daily to a feeling in my chest that I was missing something. Now I have hope. There is some joy to find in finding you CAN pay attention to how your body feels, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and ALSO enjoy life. The time I spend with other people (largely indoors) is not without anxiety, but I can feel myself reaching out for real experiences, authentic feelings, sadness, joy, grief, etc. and not just because of the challenges we set ourselves here but because my mind knows now that there is something for me on the other side of this pain. I can walk through it with the knowledge that things do not need to be black and white for me to be able to succeed. And success is measured differently for everyone, I don't mean success financially, career-wise, or even in relationships... I have a spot kind of carved out in my mind that will allow success to be defined more simply now: by the measure of my values and how I act towards them. Am I giving myself grace when I should? Success? Yes. Am I allowed to fail? Is that a success? Yes. (unless it's like an Olympic event). This isn't like little-league and we all get trophies (although it kind of is because we do all get a present at the end) and we're all a success. I have a ton of work to do still. But that's it, how I am now is I can do that work and not be terrified that another day has started or come to an end. Don't bail. Put yourself out there. Talk, or don't talk and just listen really well. There is so much to gain from the counselors here, and so much understanding. They'll work with you in a such a way that you'll find you can actually say "I don't understand' out loud which, for many of us, used to seem like torture. There is also this enormous wealth of knowledge where you DO NOT expect to find it (probably because we'd rather not go looking for it) which is what you can gain from this group of strangers that you're just meeting for the first time. I was lucky enough to meet everyone here. Thank goodness because the last couple times I tried this program the people were terrible (just kidding they were brilliant too). All of your stories and seeing people who are in your same giant, awkward shoes, working through their issues right beside you... has helped me to understand mine. So even if you didn't mean to, you helped me. And that has been the key for me, especially when I was new. That I show up. Especially when I don't want to, because there is going to be a bunch of strangers that help you figure out some of the most challenging issues in your life without either party really knowing it! -D.O.
Before I started IOP, my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and urges made up who I believed I was as a person. I was victim to my mood and depression, chasing down fleeting moments of motivation. I was in denial that I was an overly anxious person -- I was just shy, introverted, and had low-self esteem. I spent most of my energy avoiding these internal experiences in my external life, because I felt like not having them was the only way to be happy and normal -- so I isolated myself, attempted to avoid all of my triggers, of which there was an ever growing number, and read crappy self-help books to try and fix myself. I thought if I picked the perfect course of action in my personal and professional life, I wouldn’t have these feelings -- so I often looked for the next best thing and chased novelty in the pursuit of happiness. And while the high was satisfying, it was fleeting. I obsessed over the right course of action, over past memories of ways I’ve failed or made a fool of myself, catastrified what could happen to me in the future, replayed conversations with people in my head, convincing myself their tone meant for certain that they didn’t respect me or also thought I was an idiot. I felt like an imposter in every space I was in.
In the past few years, I fell into a continuous cycle of anxiety attacks -- my mind would race uncontrollably to deep, dark places; I’d become nonverbal, and would cycle through feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration. I couldn’t explain what was happening to me, and was left waiting hopelessly as another lurked around the corner. I felt like I lived two lives -- anxious me and less anxious me, and I had trouble remembering things in one reality that happened in the other. I was crying in the bathroom at work, lashing out at my partner and friends, and avoiding reality through sleep and social media. My appetite was fleeting and my weight is a tangible manifestation of how bad my thoughts are. Starving felt right and just. My suffering was somehow cathartic. I thought if I ruminate on things long and hard enough, I’d have an ah-ha moment and figure out the meaning of life. It was a cycle so deep that it often took me hours or days to come up for air.
I have a much healthier relationship with my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and urges now. They are still there -- but I see them for what they really are, a manifestation of my anxiety, not my true self. I am still there, behind these clouds. I no longer concern myself with the false goal of getting rid of my anxiety. It is along with my for the ride, my dark passenger, but it doesn’t get my full and undivided attention anymore. My thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and urges are just those. They are not the truth. I know and understand what is happening inside of my mind and body, which brings with it a peace and understanding I’ve been desperate to have for years.
I can express what is happening to me in a scientific and specific way and ask for what I need to those who love and support me and have been desperate for years to have ways to help me. I can accept the negative thoughts, notice and label them for what they really are. I don’t fight with the negative thoughts and feelings, I don’t try to get them to stop. I can unhook from them and I choose to act on my values anyways. I largely knew what my values were before starting this program, but I lacked the skills and tools to act upon them when my anxiety told me I wasn’t strong enough. I’m still working on keeping my struggle switch off in order to keep clean pain clean, and not hopping onto the hamster wheel. And I’ve embarked on a journey of self-compassion. I have a long way to go on all of these things. But I hold myself with a loving kindness I’ve thus far only reserved for other people in my life. And for the first time in a very long time, I’m optimistic about the future and my capacity for happiness.
Do it. Now. There will never be a good time. I found out about Renew in February 2019 while I was deep in my anxiety and waited until things got even worse in October because I was “too busy.” I had trouble accepting that my anxiety was bad enough to need something so intensive. I took pride in being functional and didn’t want to be someone who needed so much help. I was afraid I was just being dramatic -- but from night 1, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be to begin to heal. Working with therapists who are experts in anxiety is a game changer -- I had been in individual therapy for years before someone even mentioned that I might have anxiety. I’ve grown more in 6 weeks than in 6 and a half years.
The first few weeks will be a blur. Understanding will come with time. Take notes in whatever way is meaningful to you. If you’re like me, you’ll start to have good days you haven’t had in a long time in those first few weeks. When you have another anxious or depressed day, you might feel very discouraged and that you really aren’t making any progress after all. That’s okay -- we’re running a marathon, not a sprint. Accept the good with the bad.
Thinking about working on myself in a room with 11 other people was another reason I put treatment off. But the people around you are instrumental in your healing. We walk through life thinking we are alone in our experiences, but not one time have I shared a thought, feeling, belief, or urge and haven’t seen a nodding head around the room. There is a lightness that comes with sharing the heaviest parts of you and then hearing, “me, too.” I am humbled daily by the strength and vulnerability of those who I’ve shared this journey with -- they will help make you stronger, too. -Jessica
Life before I came to the IOP was not fun. I hid from anything that would spike my anxiety, which led me to not leaving the house for very long. Everyday was slow and hard. Nothing seemed to excite me anymore as I worried over everything I was thinking. I lost weight, avoided everyone, and thought things would never change. I stopped going to school to take time to get myself help. It would be fair to say that Renew has helped me alot. I’ve learned many methods on how to tackle anxiety in the present moment and I learned how to understand what my brain is doing in the process. Recently, I have more control over my emotions, which has allowed me to get back on my feet. This will allow me to take another shot at school. Now, I can deal with the emotions that used to dictate my life. Regardless of what your intended goal is, Renew is not the place that says, just do these things and they’ll work. You learn why a technique helps you control your anxiety and what ideal goals would help you make progress. I’m grateful I made the decision to commit to the program, because it has helped me tremendously with controlling my anxiety. -Samuel
I no longer could pretend that anxiety didn’t run/ruin my life. My everyday was filled with anxiety and for someone that has suffered through 20+ years, it is almost unbelievable that I never fully understood anxiety and the extent of its grip on my life. I joined the group while in the midst of a long never ending cycle of pain and intrusive thoughts. I was dying, that is at least what my mind had determined for me, and I believed every thought my mind told me. My body was drained and the cycles finally had hit new lows. I honestly had forgotten how to live life, the depression was the deepest I have ever felt, I was dissociated and only a passive observer my life, one that was no longer real to me. I was in survival mode, while trying to be a functional adult. Autopilot was fully engaged and hope was no longer present. I had lost most interests and I could not see a future. The physical pain and the mental gymnastics had finally worked me into a crossroads. It was hard to see a way to make it through another cycle. In a defining moment, I reached out to Renew for the IOP. I finally allowed myself to accept the fact that anxiety was the cause of the physical pain, the depression, the single thing that has robbed me of a fulfilled life. It had been 20 plus years in the making and instead of running and avoiding. I made the choice to stop, turn around and face the monster. Thoughts are just bananas, hello *, and grace. You have to find the techniques that work for you. The amount of thoughts, sensations, urges may never lessen, the program allowed me the skills to learn how to respond to them. My thoughts are just that, thoughts, write whatever you want on your bananas. Anxiety is part of my life and will forever be, so hello *. Finally, I allow myself grace. I allow myself the kindness I deserve. I have learned that I am not alone. The acceptance is easier than you believe, and the struggle is not worth the effort. I feel hopeful for the first time in a long, long time. I understand values and why your anxiety should not block you from things that are important to you. I allowed myself to go stretches of time without feeling anxiety. My life is not even recognizable compared to the first day I started. Most importantly, I can say today in this moment, I am not going to die. My day to day is filled with acceptance, defusion, and the ability to use the wise mind to be present. I have challenged myself to lessen the anxiety responses and life is becoming what I believe is me again. What I would tell someone thinking about starting the program: this gets said by everyone who has completed the program… this room, the people who sit in these chairs, are the strongest people you will ever meet in your life. The group is the power, you are NOT alone. Listen to every story, find the techniques that work for you. Push yourself, really challenge yourself with exposures. You have the best therapists, truly amazing, along with a great program. Even with all these resources, it will still take the power of you. -Tom
For years my life was dictated by my anxiety. It was the stomach clenching panic when I woke up, the constant sense of dread throughout the day, the endless rehashing of the day’s failures when I got home from work, and the terrible things my mind told me about myself as I tried to fall asleep again. I worried about being late. I worried about having to leave the house. I worried about how much weight I was gaining. I worried about every word that came out of my mouth. I worried about every word that has ever come out of my mouth. My only strategy to not feel was to scroll mindlessly on social media, order delivery so I didn’t have to go anywhere, and always stop at the liquor store on the way home to purchase a steadily increasing amount of alcohol in order to shut down my brain at the end of the day. My life kept getting smaller and smaller. I was isolating from all of my friends. I was unable to learn new skills and keep track of my duties at work. My relationship of five years ended because I was constantly crossing boundaries and lashing out. I started seeing a therapist once a week because I knew that my anxiety was out of control, but a few weeks later I was asked to resign from my position.
I spent my first two weeks of unemployment either drunk, or catatonic on the sofa watching TV. I started to spiral even further downward and thoughts of death began to creep in. I never considered myself actively suicidal, but dying started to look better than the life I was living. I decided I didn’t really want to die, and that I needed more help than I was getting.
In the past month and a half of treatment at Renew I have made significant changes in my life. I started going to the gym five days a week, and I made appointments with my doctor and dealt with some health issues I have been avoiding for years. I have reconnected with a few old friends, and I am able to exist in the present moment with much less discomfort. The skills I learned during treatment have made it possible to recognize that I am not my thoughts, physical sensations or urges. I am an independent entity merely experiencing these things, and I have choices on how to respond to them. I am much clearer on my values, and I have techniques to deal with all of the obstacles that used to keep me from acting on them. I am still looking for a new job, but I have a much healthier perspective on where I am in my life, and I have hope for the future. I know that if I continue to take actions that move me closer to my values, things will naturally fall into place. I sleep better, and I don’t wake up with a pit in my stomach anymore. My mind isn’t occupied with constant negative self talk anymore, and whenever it does crop up, I am much better at recognizing the thought, acknowledging that it is just a thought, and letting the thought go.
If you are looking for help with your anxiety, I can’t recommend this program enough. The counselors are very engaged and caring, and you will learn new skills that will change your life. The first week or two will be a lot of new information, so just keep showing up with an open mind. It will all start to come together. The techniques might feel uncomfortable or silly at first, but if you practice them, they get easier, and they actually work! The techniques and strategies you will learn are very important, but real strength comes from the group. It is incredible how powerful connecting with a group of strangers with a common purpose can be. Knowing you are not alone in your struggle, witnessing others’ struggles and victories, and sharing your own is where the real magic happens. You can feel better. You will feel better. Get started. -K.H.
Before I started the program at Renew, I felt that my anxiety and overall mental health was at its worst. I was constantly irritated and angry over the smallest things, anxious to the point of feeling sick, and so depressed that I felt there was no hope. My mental health was affecting my relationships, work, and my own happiness. Everything felt negative to me and I wanted to avoid my feelings rather than properly cope. Eventually, my life became too overwhelming and I knew I couldn’t avoid my issues any longer. Now that I have learned the proper coping skills, I honestly can say that I am the happiest that I’ve ever been! I can see the positives and possibilities of a situation rather than expecting the worst due to anxiety. My relationships have changed drastically and I finally feel that I’m loved and can give back the love that those close to me deserve. I know that anxiety will always be apart of me, but I finally get to decide how it will affect me. Do it! Six weeks sounds like a long time, but I promise you that the time will fly by. The therapists are amazing and want to make a difference in your life. The support that you receive from others in the group has been the most helpful part of treatment. Everyone in the group knows what you are going through and truly cares. This program is truly life changing. Even in your darkest and most anxious state, always remember that a thought is just a thought, and it doesn’t have to become a reality. -D.P.
Before IOP, I was in a cycle of fearful thoughts, not sleeping, and was not eating. For months I couldn’t function. I quit my job and ended up dropping out of my classes. I had experienced trauma that had done damage I didn’t think could ever be possible. My relationships were strained: my family was worried how long before I was. I did about two months of treatment out of state before Renew and had tried a different IOP program before Renew when I got home. It wasn’t a good fit. Renew was comfortable and taught me a lot. I feel like I think through and have the background knowledge to counter intrusive type hamster wheel thoughts. I can shift my focus and relate the situation back to my values and objectively solve the problem. With the help of the program and therapy sessions these past weeks, I have felt more relaxed and at ease and ruminating has decreased. The program has given me the opportunity to relate to other people with similar struggles. The structure and consistency really helps you focus on getting better. If your main problem is anxiety it would be a great fit. It is a good program. -Anonymous
My life was filled with chaos and I lived in a constant state of fear. I saw my first therapist at the age of 5, and then again at ages 6, 7, 11, 15, and 18. They had all used many therapeutic approaches that ultimately ended up just being a quick fix, nothing that ever addressed my issues at their root cause. Throughout my teens I was suffering through 3-4 panic attacks a week. I did not understand what was wrong with me, and each time I truly believed I was dying. My panic attacks were a vicious cycle of the typical body sensations experienced during a panic attack, followed by hysterical sobbing and hyperventilating, which only exacerbated the physical symptoms. As expected, I had little to no energy most of the time, as my body was using all of its energy panicking. I always felt sick and was continuously losing weight because I felt too sick to eat anything. I became stable for a few years after seeing a psychiatrist, but over the past few months, the panic started setting in again. I didn’t understand what was happening because my panic attacks didn’t look the same as they used too. I wasn’t hysterically sobbing whenever the physical symptoms of the panic attack started. Instead, I was dissociating terribly throughout the panic attack. I wasn’t able to recognize my surroundings, and nothing felt real. In addition to this, I began having flashbacks from my past. I had never experienced anything like that before, and I was so scared that this was the beginning of me losing touch with reality and going insane. It got to the point that I was constantly leaving work early, and I was starting to not be able to reach my deadlines at work. Before I went on medical leave, I was two weeks behind in my work. I felt ashamed for having to go on leave from work. I didn’t know anyone who had ever taken advantage of FMLA for their mental health, and I felt ashamed and terribly alone. My whole life I was conditioned to believe that my mental illness was a character flaw, and that something was innately wrong with me as a person. I thought that I was a bad person for taking time off work to take care of my mental health, and I almost believed that I didn’t deserve it.
I am not terrified of my panic attacks anymore, and they don’t have the same power over me as they did in the past. Whenever the physical sensations of a panic attack do arise, they only last for 5-10 minutes, instead of 20-30 minutes. I used to be terrified of my body, but that is not the case anymore. I don’t feel like a prisoner inside my body, and I don’t feel completely helpless anymore. I am able to stay mindful and I know how to ground myself during moments of panic. Never in my life did I ever think I would be able to accomplish this. Before I started this program, I had accepted that I would suffer from anxiety for the rest of my life, and that there wasn’t anything I could do that would fix it. It was just something that I would have to “deal with” for the rest of my life. I didn’t think it was possible for me to ever feel at peace again. My anxiety is not holding me back anymore, and I am able to live my life without constantly fearing the worst. Of course I still have anxious thoughts that pop up, but I know now that thoughts are just thoughts. My thoughts don’t “mean” anything, and I understand that they are not something that I can control. I don’t have to fight with my thoughts, buy into them, or try to figure out if they are true or false. I am able to acknowledge them and accept them, and move on with my day. It still blows my mind that I’m at a point where anxiety does not have complete control over my life.
Do it!! There's a reason that you are considering starting this program. Don't do yourself the disservice of not starting the program. This is truly life changing, and I'm so grateful that I was able to find this sooner rather than later in my life. -Ashley
What life was like before Renew Anxiety Center IOP was full of uncertainty, overthinking, and overall not understanding my anxiety and depression. I didn’t realize why I felt this way and felt as if I messed up somewhere along my life’s journey to where I almost accepted that I was “unfixable”, which is far from the truth. I spent years of distraction methods, that only prolonged what I needed to face from the beginning. Life became something I rarely took any joy in anymore and I would spend many hours asleep/watching T.V. up until I began the class. I have great relationships, but had taken so much for granted since I became so fixated on my own feelings. I worried I was going to lose everything, have no future, be forgotten, etc. Life was not the way it was meant to be before beginning IOP.
I can say with confidence that I have much more hope for my future. Most days since beginning IOP have pushed me to target an issues instead of suppressing my feelings out. I’m smiling more often, making a lot more memories, and pushing myself to become mindful throughout everyday. Some days are still difficult, but my anxiety attacks are becoming more rare, as well as having a clearer understanding of my own mind. Exposing myself within the group setting was one of the most impactful factors of the Anxiety Center. I’ve spent so much time away from group setting, it was much needed.
I spent most of my life dodging getting help for my anxiety/depression, and as much as I didn’t want to face my problems, I now know that I’ll be forever grateful I joined the program. Every person here understands in some way how you feel, even if you’re not used to being understood. My best advice is to at least give your full attention and try as much as possible to interact with the activities. The more you’re engaged, the more you’ll remember from group. I’ve only heard wonderful things from everyone who came out of the group so far, so there’s really nothing to lose from working on yourself in this group. From being in a place of self-despair fro so long, to learning to truly enjoy life again, I put my full confidence in that the Anxiety Center is an amazing first step. -Lilee
I felt a constant state of being off kilter. The thought of going to the group was giving me additional anxiety. I committed myself to just show up, go into a mindless auto-pilot mode just to get there. I was exhausted physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I started to feel like my trajectory was not going to change/get better, and I did not feel like I could live like this for another year, let alone long term. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for probably most of my life if I think back on it. I was adopted and subsequently abused by my adoptive father and my mother was pretty narcissistic and overbearing. I had problems with relationships as I grew older and had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I would never get married or have a family. I did talk-therapy for years and it did help me get to a place where I believed I might deserve to at least be in a healthy relationship. My mood would go up and down, the normal challenges in life, with depression and anxiety bubbling up like heartburn that I just kept trying to stuff down. When my dad died within months of us finding out he was terminally ill and a few years later, the same thing with my mom and then a year after that being diagnosed with genetically based breast cancer, the stuff really started bubbling up. I was immediately started on chemo, after that I had a double mastectomy, next was radiation and finally a total hysterectomy. I thought after my final surgery, I would feel this sense of elation and joy and freedom but the exact opposite happened. I reached my lowest point ever, compounded by the guilt/shame that I should be elated and joyful. I finally just told my husband that I needed some help and I spent 3 days at SMMC inpatient care. I felt guilty for being there, I went from being a guidepost for our family to a total burden. I honestly thought that they would be better off if I was not around. I envisioned them with an energetic, kind, fun woman - who even cooked for them, lol. I felt they deserved so much better than me - a big old bag of burden. My OCD came back (hadn't had problems in 10+ years) and I was getting to the point where I didn't even feel a desire to try and change. Like I wanted to just go off into the forest (as isolated as I could get, of course) and just live out whatever was left of my sad life. Every day was that game of tug-of-war. I hated myself for not doing this or for doing that, but I did not have it in me to do a darn thing about it.
It's a cliche but true - I have new tools in my tool belt. I just have to remember I have the belt on, to mindfully use the tools, and know that it will take more work and practice to make most of these practices a habit instead of the exception. I am more open with my emotions/feelings. I have always wanted to figure out who I was, who is my authentic self. I am not quite there (I am a VERY late bloomer, have to think things through and move at my own pace) but I can't express the hope I have knowing I have the tools to figure out what MY true values are. I don't have to feel like a wishy washy wet noodle, who can change course just because of the people or situation I am in. I feel like I have lived 3-4 different lives, seriously. That's how different my behaviors have been throughout different times in my life.
Now I feel hope. Hope that I can figure out who I am and be guided by my values and find peace in this life to some degree. Hope that I can get spiritually reconnected. What a life-altering gift, hope. I am so grateful for that.
Hope for a different future than the one I was 1
I had a college physics teacher who told us on the first day of class that he was going to give us the secret to passing his course (a lot of us were a little worried about that, including me!). He said all you had to do was...just show up. Just get to class every day and you will learn enough to pass just by being there. And who knows, maybe we would end up participating and learning even more and doing even better than just passing! I have always remembered that and it is part of what got me to the first day (and many others) of this group. The idea of having to share your anxiety makes it harder, mustering up the energy to get there. But once there, I kept hearing how the program had changed peoples lives, I was finding such solace in knowing I was not the only one who felt this way or that way, and I started to learn new ways of approaching my anxiety that I had never heard of before and that, as I started to try to implement them, actually worked. 🙂 -J.C.
My life before I started IOP was isolation. I always isolated myself whether it was with my friends, coworkers, or even my family. I wanted to be invisible. My normal day would consist of me either going to work or being locked in my room trying to keep myself busy from my troubling thoughts. It would be my anxiety telling me I am a failure, I have nothing to offer and I’m worthless. Before going to work I would cry because I was so anxious and it would cause me to get sick. I wouldn’t eat for days, let alone drink a glass of water. Overall it was just mentally exhausting to feel like this.
My life after Renew:
I go out and do things more often. I’m not hiding in my room. I go out and see my family and share quality time with them. I’m not afraid to say what's on my mind or what's troubling me because of my anxiety. I feel more alive as a person than I did before. I realized I am going to have my bad days and good days but I need to use the tools that this program has taught me and I’ll be alright.
To those thinking about starting Renew: DO IT. I was so hesitant at first but then realized it is truly an amazing program. H.W.
A lot of my days were me hiding under the manager’s desk at work, crying for an hour. Mostly over my brother’s death, then sometimes over the stress my family would sometimes put me through. I’d spend my off days sleeping and avoiding all my friends and family. I didn’t think they would want to see me because I would be the “Debby Downer” and just wasn’t capable of having fun.
I was stable after about 6 months of my brother pssing. I got out of a relationship that wasn’t helping me grow and finally started to make myself happy. My mind before group was pretty stable but we all have off days. I guess I was more sad about not seeing my brother again, except in my dreams. I couldn’t go to a relative’s son’s funeral because it reminded me of Dakota. My thoughts were essentially consumed around my brother’s passing along with just depression on top of it. I needed more help and healthier coping skills.
My life is a lot easier. I’m able to be more present in stressful and non stressful situations. I’m more consciously aware of my thoughts, values, and actions. I’m seeing my family and friends more and they all seem to notice they progress and are really proud of me.
To those thinking about starting
Definitely go everyday. Don’t be afraid to be open about your issues. Everyone is here to help and support you. You definitely can’t get there anywhere else. It’s really a beautiful experience when you see everyone open throughout the sessions and you’ll slowly feel more confident throughout. Keep practicing being mindful and meditation, it really does help you. I used to believe it was crap, but now here I am, a firm believer in meditating. Come in on days you feel bad, it will help you. And if you are going through an anxious situation, do it while you’re in group. You have the support and guidance, don’t waste it. And don’t forget how important and lovely you all are. W.D.
I have had anxiety since high school that I believe stemmed from my mom’s unresolved anxiety. I saw my mom crashing into walls with relationships, career, and even minute decisions of daily living. From a very young age, I thought that this is how you live. Furthermore, I somehow become the guardian of my mom and dad’s marriage. THe arguments were abusive- both physically and emotionally. This left me with heavy trauma. I was a tense and fragile system. When I started medical school, I burdened this system and brought it down all together. I was lucky enough to seek counseling. Therapy was both relieving and painful. I started to become aware of all of my thoughts and feelings. I became overwhelmed with them. My emotions and thoughts started to hold me hostage in my own head, paralyzed with fear and shame. I felt trapped and did not understand how to carry myself anymore. I also didn’t realize that I was cultivating my anxiety as I overted it with avoidance.
IOP gave a framework to leave my head. In the beginning I thought that reviewing the Hexa-Flex every Monday and reviewing Rachael’s 3 steps every Thursday was unnecessarily repetitive. During week 3 however, I actually decided to commit it to my memory. Surprisingly enough, I was able to use these steps as escape routes when I felt like I was being held hostage by my own thoughts in my head.
I realized because of IOP, that I am weak at self-compassion. I fell in love with myself as I earned and practiced the 3 elements of self-compassion Anna taught us (self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity) was extremely helpful to me. I believe that we are social creatures and we thrive from sharing our emotions. Seeing people struggling from all walks of life made me feel less lonely with my mental health.
I feel like every high school student and adult should preemptively go through the anxiety IOP program. The first day is the hardest. It’s a struggle to come for the first two weeks and then it gets easier. So if you don’t connect with it immediately just hang on for a little bit. Some days will have a stronger impact on you than other days. This program will not only improve your mental health, but truly help you connect with other people trying to take care of their mental health. - N.A.
I have had anxiety since high school that I believe stemmed from my mom’s unresolved anxiety. I saw my mom crashing into walls with relationships, career, and even minute decisions of daily living. From a very young age, I thought that this is how you live. Furthermore, I somehow become the guardian of my mom and dad’s marriage. The arguments were abusive- both physically and emotionally. This left me with heavy trauma. I was a tense and fragile system. When I started medical school, I burdened this system and brought it down all together. I was lucky enough to seek counseling. Therapy was both relieving and painful. I started to become aware of all of my thoughts and feelings. I became overwhelmed with them. My emotions and thoughts started to hold me hostage in my own head, paralyzed with fear and shame. I felt trapped and did not understand how to carry myself anymore. I also didn’t realize that I was cultivating my anxiety as I overted it with avoidance.
IOP gave a framework to leave my head. In the beginning I thought that reviewing the Hexa-Flex every Monday and reviewing Rachael’s 3 steps every Thursday was unnecessarily repetitive. During week 3 however, I actually decided to commit it to my memory. Surprisingly enough, I was able to use these steps as escape routes when I felt like I was being held hostage by my own thoughts in my head.
I realized because of IOP, that I am weak at self-compassion. I fell in love with myself as I earned and practiced the 3 elements of self-compassion Anna taught us (self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity) was extremely helpful to me. I believe that we are social creatures and we thrive from sharing our emotions. Seeing people struggling from all walks of life made me feel less lonely with my mental health.
I feel like every high school student and adult should preemptively go through the anxiety IOP program. The first day is the hardest. It’s a struggle to come for the first two weeks and then it gets easier. So if you don’t connect with it immediately just hang on for a little bit. Some days will have a stronger impact on you than other days. This program will not only improve your mental health, but truly help you connect with other people trying to take care of their mental health. - N.A.
Before starting the program here at Renew, I was in deep despair. Long before the Coronavirus, I was dramatically socially distanced from my husband, sister, family, and work. The pain from grief over the enormous loss of my marriage, business and family relations was raw and all-consuming. I imagine that (an artist) could have painted what felt like an ulcer the size of my torso that had ruptured and could not be bandaged. My mind was an insufferable vortex of negative thoughts and self criticisms in my solitude. Because these feelings and experiences were agonizing and excruciating, I had a strong will to cease to exist. Despite being hospitalized at Cottonwood Springs, and continuing to see my personal therapist, I continued to suffer to the pint that more intensive therapy was recommended. I was referred to a few treatment centers and after researching each, I decided that Renew’s course sounded like a good fit. Even after months of therapy prior to coming here, my brain couldn’t maintain linear thoughts. Any decision, no matter how small, was impossible. My handwriting was no longer my own, and it changed often even in the middle of writing, not just day to day. I attribute all this to the trauma from the events in my life that had imploded my world and continued to barrage me.
The first couple weeks at Renew, I felt lost, but the skills started to kick in slowly. Defusion was my fast friend. Now, at the end of my 6 weeks I have found that most of the time these newly learned tools and skills serve me very well. I am still new to them and will continue to practice and study them for my own peace “in” mind. I no longer experience the spiraling thoughts that I had no defense from, prior to this program. I I have learned to breathe around the pain and loneliness and to allow it. My “ulcer: still exists, but it is no longer an open wound. It is still quite sensitive however, and it doesn’t take much to feel the tenderness of it. I am much better able to respond to triggers than to just react to them. Guided meditations have become my companion, especially with the Breathe app, that gently reminds me to check-in on my mood and recommends meditations that will help. I now recognize my own handwriting. The current state of emergency is a sad stopping point. Although I am well practiced at social distancing after these past 8 months, this mandate could very well feel like solitary confinement. I will try to use my time wisely while actively and mentally practicing my values which have moved to the forefront of my mind since starting this program. During the social distancing of the bubonic plague, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the theory of gravity. My hope is to feel less gravity and enjoy my time, learn to be still, and continue to make self improvements.
Know that the first couple weeks may feel confusing, enlightening, threatening, and comforting all at the same time. This program will push you beyond your comfort zone, but it is staying in your comfort lace that has brought you here. Anna, Kori, and Rachael are the best thing about Olathe, the city I call home. They will gently guide you, repeat to you, encourage you, and make you laugh. Laughter lightens the load we bear. They will gently push you, and challenge the best out of you, because they can see the best in you and they want to help you see it and to practice it, so that in tough moments, you have the tools to deal with whatever you are up against. Give it time. Give yourself time. This takes time and commitment. This is some of the best quality time I have spent in my life. Trust. Trust in them and trust in yourself. -Carol B.
Before IOP I was very hopeless about my life and did not feel capable or in control of anything. I had recently quit 2 jobs because of my anxiety and perfectionism and I had no idea how to deal with my fears. I had lost a lot of friends and was in survival mode, feeling like I was just barely getting by. I was extremely frustrated with previous treatment that I had tried for my anxiety and depression and basically had never been taught any skills, despite going to counseling for about 2 years. I thought I was doing it wrong and nothing would work because I fail at everything. I had very little hope and no confidence.
Now I feel like I’m starting to take more control over my life. I am learning skills that I always knew must exist but for some strange reason, never learned until now. I have more of a direction for my life and am a little more hopeful that I can move toward it. I am not as trapped in my head as I used to be. The thing I am most grateful for is the support system that I have gained in this program. It is the first time in a long time that I have felt taken care of by people who actually understand me and how my brain works. I have learned a lot about myself and found a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one struggling.
I am so proud of you for making this decision to start. For me, it was one of the most terrifying decisions I ever made. It can be very difficult to open up in group, but it is worth it. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re trying to learn these skills, and don't worry if it doesn't make sense at first. You can really trust the team here. You are in the right place. Just being here is a huge step in the right direction. Madi G
Worried about my family + safety, fears of illness and disease or death, constant feeling of panic and no control, irritability, exposure to behavior, quick to freak out, yell or flee. I was always in my head and not present with my family. Isolation from my sisters and friends, constantly trying to control my home, consistency with messes, lots of frustration in life, harboring a lot of anger and jealousy, struggling with the grief from my sons death, anxious about doctor visits, very anxious about Covid-19, anxious about leaving the house, anxious about contacting certain family members and friends, feeling detached emotionally to my family and feeling alone, feeling of entrapment and heaviness.
Reduction in the amount of worry, fear and anxiety. The heaviness has lifted. I feel lighter and more capable of handling any kind of stressful situation more calmly. I have proven to myself it is possible. I enjoy time with my family so much more. I am far less agitated or irritable. I am more patient with my husband and children. I am quicker to forgive or apologize to myself. I am able to communicate with certain family and friends without over analyzing it. I am able to accept things as they are. I am able to communicate with certain family and learning mindfulness has taught me how to relax and live in the present as well as be more aware of myself, thoughts, emotions and surroundings. I feel less anxious going to the doctors and to stores. I feel capable of utilizing these tools and am able to accept that I may/ will fail and that’s ok. My future doesn’t seem as scary. ( Long story short I am not able to manage my anxiety rather than it control me.)
After experiencing other IOP’s and now this one I would highly recommend it to others who are struggling with their anxiety/ I have learned so much more in these sessions then I have in any others. The way it is presented is relatable and easy to understand/ utilize at home/ on my own/ The goals are reachable and you find yourself changing in a positive way. This experience will help you become more self aware and teach you life skills to help you manage your anxiety. The practices taught are extremely helpful and possible for anyone to learn or do. If you truly want help, support and change this program is for you, but you must first be willing to be vulnerable and put in the work. Make it work for you. Best of luck! - Kay K