There are many ways to manage anxiety. Some are helpful, others are okay in some contexts, and some are detrimental to you and the people around you. Listen to this interview with my 20-year-old nephew, Jude, to learn the various ways he has been managing anxiety, from when he was very young, during a few years of drug use, and now, through meditation and creativity. You’ll learn:
- The importance of community and belonging
- Various paths to get to the top of the mountain
- Daily practices that sustain well-being
- How diet can affect anxiety
- How some escapes are good escapes
Managing Anxiety: My Interview with Jude
To know Jude is to love him, and I am thrilled to inspire you with his wise words. Have a listen:
Please rate us 5 Stars on Apple Podcasts so that we can get to more young people who need to feel better.
Jude’s personal post for his anniversary.
Jude’s post copied-and-pasted here:
Social media is both a blessing and a curse – how beautiful that we are able to connect with each other so instantaneously, to share our thoughts and feelings? And yet, how honestly are we choosing to present them? I’m aware of this as I celebrate an important day in my life – a year sober from drugs and alcohol.
A year ago, I jumped from the second story of my house onto my neighbors’ driveway, fracturing both of my arms, and three bones in my face. I share this to help disarm (haha) what I think is so dangerous about social media – presenting only the parts of yourself which you want others to see; I spent a great portion of my life avoiding being seen – making efforts to avoid being known as I saw myself.
I have made mistakes, and I will continue to make mistakes.
That is the nature of being human. But no longer do I care to hide them. Life is too short to spend time worrying about how others view you, something that I often used drugs to try and escape. Coming to terms with the things that make you uncomfortable – jumping into the lake on a cold windy day because that’s what you are asked to do – that is what has made me proud to be where I am today.
This didn’t happen by my will alone. The support that I’ve received from family and friends has been the most important part of moving forward. They have allowed an environment of love and care to fill me up. It is one, I can recognize, that not everyone is so lucky to have. I would be remiss if I did not thank in particular, my mom and dad, who both helped me to find my way. Additionally, in working with Robert Veeder, I have been able to explore what life is all about (abetterhigh.org).
The loneliness that can feed any kind of mental illness is something that we should all be acutely aware of. Being able to join communities that I can identify with has been an eye-opening experience for me. And one that has transformed both how I view myself, and the world around me.
Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to know more about the recovery community or what that has been like for me.
I wish you all a happy 2023.
Peace & LoveJude Aman
Listen to Managing Anxiety Episode 1-8 on Youtube
Transcription coming soon!
More resources coming soon!
A highly relatable cartoon from Hedger Humor.
Transcription of Episode
Jodi: Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is “Anxiety… I’m So Done With You!” I am so excited about this podcast. It’s an accompaniment to my book by the same name, “Anxiety… I’m So Done With You!” It’s a teen’s guide to ditching toxic stress and hardwiring your brain for happiness because that is what we’re going to do in the series: We’re ditching that freaking toxic stress and hardwiring your brain to generate happiness every day.
This is what you do: You read or listen to a section of the book. Then come on over here and listen to an episode where we’re going to go a little bit deeper, give more examples, and tell more stories. I want to provide you with everything you need to be sure that you find your way out of this horrible anxiety cycle so that you no longer have to suffer. Please leave me a five-star review on Apple podcasts. That’ll help me get in the ears of more people who need this series. Mental health problems are skyrocketing, especially among teenagers, and this series will change the tide.
Jodi: Welcome to this episode. We have a special treat for you today. This is my nephew Jude.
Jodi: I’m going to interview Jude because he’s a great representative of Generation Z. We’re talking in this season about
- where anxiety comes from
- why we have it so much
- what’s going on for us biologically, culturally, and emotionally,
and all the things in this season. It’d be great to hear a story from someone who could relate to what’s happening. Jude might ask me some questions, but mostly, I’ll ask Jude some questions. So let’s get started. anxiety is different for everybody. Everybody has different feelings about it. It works on us all in similar ways, but we think about it differently. We experience it differently. We’re upset or afraid of different things. Please give us an introduction to your experience with anxiety.
Noticing Anxiety as Unconditional Worry
Jude: I started to notice my anxiety and name it “anxiety,” probably around 16 or 17 years old. But as I look back, I can recognize it from the time I was four or five. I have distinct memories of how I perceive anxiety, right? It’s kind of like this “unconditional worry.” One of the ways that I remember that expressing most frequently was when I was in the car. I can remember being very aware of the speed limit and if my mom or dad were driving five or ten miles over, it would really freak me out. I would get really worried. When I looked back that was one of my main introductions to how I understood anxiety.
Jodi: So can I ask you about that unconditional worry? I love that description. It isn’t a description I have heard before. I appreciate how people have their experience and their own way of describing things. Because, rather than a diagnosis or a mental illness, it’s like a description of what someone is going through.
Jodi: Say more about how you came up with the unconditional worry.
Jude: Well I think that’s really what happens when I experience anxiety. It’s this train that doesn’t stop. I just kind of go from one thing to the next and there’s a degree of rumination in there for me. I’m thinking about it over and over again but it’s not something logical. There’s no way for me to stop it. Logically, it’s run away.
Jodi: So the unconditional is mostly like lack of logic?
Jude: Yes, like it didn’t have to be anxiety. There were no conditions that caused it. It just is there.
Jodi: I get it, cool. Alright, when you were 16 and 17 you said it became a little bit different – tell us about that.
The Relationship with Anxiety
Jude: My relationship with anxiety changed in large part because I started to do therapy. And so, I could name and explore anxiety in a more concrete way as it applied to myself. Part of that work was also looking back at my younger life and understanding it. It took me a while to realize how present it’s been throughout my life. One characteristic of anxiety for myself is how I hold my stomach. It’s like, I can’t relax my stomach and so as a child, I had like pretty defined abs just because I was always just keeping my stomach in. Which is kind of funny, but also an interesting way that anxiety expressed itself physically for me.
Jodi: It speaks of that tension and maybe a layer of protection? Protecting your soft belly by…
Jude: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s always been a place where I felt anxiety. I think it is in my upper chest as well. That’s where I feel it bloom. There’s an energy to it in my chest. I can feel it and describe it as a kind of this tightness. Whereas the anxiety that expressed in my lower stomach was more like a symptom of the anxiety. I feel anxiety in my stomach or in my upper chest.
Jodi: You’re saying that you feel like your stomach’s squeezing is a response?
Jude: Yes to that feeling––that blooming in the chest. And also, I think that tenseness is not something that’s located just in my stomach. I can remember always just being very high-strung as a child. Like my shoulder blades were always really far up and I would have trouble relaxing. I started to become aware of it in 9th or 10th grade. I was aware of how much I tensed up and I would have to relax myself. I remember being surprised at how much further my arms went down my body when I would do that. It’s funny how for a long time something is just ingrained in you. But I mean that’s just what I knew, I knew myself being very tense and high-strung. Then, I started putting work behind it, and it changed.
Jodi: What you’re describing is you becoming aware of yourself. In 9th or 10th grade and then in therapy at 16 or 17 years old you were beginning to witness yourself.
Jodi: Can you tell us that process of how you started to become an observer of yourself? If that’s interesting. It’s interesting to me because I know how that affects people so I’m curious how it’s affected you.
Jude: When I think of becoming an observer of myself, I think about meta-cognition, which is like the ability to be present to your own thoughts. This isn’t really scientific, but how I think about it: It’s like this insight into how I behave and what I do. I started to come into situations where I was aware of my thought process as it was developing. It’s the ability to look at the process of my thoughts as they came. It changed the way that I was able to think about them [my thoughts]. It’s something that I did with professional help. Perhaps, I could have done alone but it I had help.
Jodi: How did it change how you thought about your thoughts?
Jude: Until very recently, I still hadn’t mastered the idea, “I am not my thoughts.” Once I did it was really powerful for me, especially in my recovery from drugs and alcohol. Like with cravings. One of the ways that I’ve been able to approach cravings now is by understanding that what I’m thinking, doesn’t define who I am. And so being able to differentiate those two things has been really important. I still don’t think I really answered your question though.
Jodi: That’s okay. That’s brilliant, brilliant information. So you’re, you’re beginning or you referred to your struggles with drugs and alcohol. Do you want to introduce us to that story?
Jude: Let’s see…mostly it was with drugs… my primary drugs of use were marijuana (cannabis) and LSD.
Jodi: When did that start?
Jude: That started at the beginning of quarantine. I had smoked weed before then but I started using it on a daily basis was at the start of quarantine.
Jodi: Can you tell us how old you are now?
Jude: I’m 20.
Jodi: So in the beginning of quarantine, we all know what that means.
Jude: Yes. I had been finding outlets for myself before. Then I was involved in school, a lot of extracurriculars, like track, and I was part of student government. I was also in charge of the yearbook and ran the business club. So, I was very heavily involved after school and that was good for me. I have a pretty busy mind so being able to put it to work was a really great thing for me. But when things started to shut down, I really struggled. An easy outlet for me, in terms of redirecting my mind’s attention, was smoking weed. It was a way to spend my time. It filled the hours.
Anxiety-free me Program
One thing that happens a lot in recovery is this wholesale demonization of someone’s time in addiction, [but I don’t want to do that.] There’s a reason that I kept going back. It was fulfilling something for me and that’s an important thing to remember. It was this “creative outlet” for myself. I would spend most of the time listening to music and it changed the chemistry in my brain in such a way that it allowed me to really listen. Now, in my sobriety, what I’ve realized is that’s not something exclusive to drugs. There’s this great analogy about meditation where the state of mind that you reach in meditation is compared to one you can have with psychedelics. The analogy is that one person climbs to the top of the mountain, and the other flies to the top in a helicopter. They both get to the same destination and see the same beautiful view but the way they got there is just so different. The mountain climber wouldn’t say the helicopter arriver a mountain climber, right? They see the same vantage point, the same beauty, but he didn’t put in the work to get there and so it always disappeared. What I’ve found in my recovery is a more sustainable way [to stay at the vantage point] through meditation and intentional living.
Jodi: What else do you want to tell us about your journey through drugs? (And then, we’ll get to your sobriety.)
Jude: My journey through drugs… let’s see. So it started when I was at the beginning of quarantine and then kind of progressed. I reached a point where I was doing acid at least once a month. And, there was probably a three or four-month period where I was doing it, if not every other week, then every week. Which was kind of weird––it’s like going through life in kind of a dreamlike state––especially at that age. It’s ordinarily an age of transformation where you come into yourself. So, to have so much of that time period taken up by psychedelic experiences was weird. If I look at how I am now, there’s just so much that’s the same from before that period in my life. So it’s kind of like this weird period for like three years where I was really lost. A lot of my curiosity for life was expressed differently.
Jodi: How did it affect your life or your relationships? Your school? Your anxiety.
Jude: I would say that school was not really affected. I never really had a tough time in school. That was actually one of the reasons why I would rationalize that I was okay. I was like, “Well, I still I’m just doing great in school so I’m okay.” Relationship-wise, though, it really, really, hurt. The nature of most people in addiction is one of secrecy which is no doubt tied to self-worth, right? Like, I know I’m doing something shady, and so part of me wanted to prevent that from hurting people that I love. So I faded into myself, which was kind of like this double-edged sword. Because now, not only do I have no community with which to really interact and talk about how I’m struggling, but it also really hurt people who I was in a relationship with. It’s a tricky thing.
Jodi: Yeah, it’s a tricky thing. How did you get sober?
Jude: Well I jumped out a window and I broke both of my arms. That was my wake-up call. I mean before that I had really put a lot of… oh wait, maybe I should explain that first?
It was almost a year ago––it was actually a year ago in two days––I jumped from my second-story window and onto my neighbor’s driveway under the influence of LSD. I woke up in the hospital and my first words were, “I need help.” That’s what I needed. And from that point on, I’ve been able to gain so much from the community of my family. Rochester has a really fantastic recovery community as well. There are so many meetings all of the time and took advantage of them and did a lot of work on myself.
And that was certainly not a point I wish to have gotten to, but I’m very grateful to be where I am now. Sometimes, as they say, you have to hit your bottom. That’s just the nature of it. At the time, however, I was actively trying to stop using drugs. I kept a log, a notebook where I would record my use in an attempt to taper off. But that’s the thing about addiction; it’s not as easy without help. It was difficult. Though, in a way, a lot easier after breaking both of my arms because it’s kind of hard to justify using it after that. For me, it was really like, “Oh, like yeah, I really could have died.” Sobriety seems like a small price to pay to live my life. But, I don’t think of it as a price at all anymore, it’s really kind of a gift to me.
Jodi: For a while, you couldn’t get out of the house…
Jude: Yes, yeah, that helped, and was hard. I was under the care of my parents and they were just so supportive of me. And all of my extended family was too, bringing food and sending well wishes. They were just really, really supportive. Not being able to get out certainly helped but I think it was really the community and the support that I received that made the difference. I’ve seen a lot of what happens to people in recovery rooms. That’s not a support that many people have, and I was lucky to be able to convalesce in such a supportive environment.
Jodi: Yeah, and I realize it’s not my time to talk it’s your time, but I wanted to at least acknowledge here because I’m your aunt. I’m not just a stranger interviewing you. It’s quite tender hearing you talk about this because I witnessed it and it was incredible. The fact that you survived it was a miracle, and we’re so grateful for it. But also, as you said, there was such a caring environment, and I wanted to second that it was awe-inspiring watching your family mobilize and circle the wagons to take care of you with such thoughtfulness, presence, and love. Your parents and your siblings really came together. (Jude’s one of five kids.)
Jude: Yes, they all came home, luckily, which was great. It’s interesting to look back because I can remember some little things that really freaked me out. Like I had both my arms in casts so I had trouble putting on shirts and wearing long sleeves. One time I bawled my eyes out thinking that I had to wear polo shirts for the next four months or something. My brother went to Goodwill and got me a ton of extra, extra-large polo shirts. It is weird thinking about everything that happened, yet those are the things I chose to cry over.
Jodi: That was so sweet. You were touched?
Jude: I was touched but I was also mad because I really hate polo shirts! (laughter)
Jodi: Did you wear any of them?
Jude: Oh yeah, I did. I wore all of them. And, actually, I still wear a few to this day because I think they’re kind of funny.
Jodi: Yeah, there’s a lot of surrendering, isn’t there when you have no arms?
Jude: Yeah, a lot of surrendering. I mean, it’s hard to believe that it was less than a year ago. I started playing guitar maybe two years ago, and so for three or four months, I couldn’t play. I also had some jaw damage so, I had trouble eating for a while too. When I think about how I can now open my mouth very wide when I couldn’t last year, it’s made me grateful for so many things that I took for granted.
Jodi: You fell on your head. It’s a miracle that that is all that happened. You can’t see him, but he’s a very handsome young man.
Jude: Thank you.
Jodi: Taking applications…for dates! (laugher) No. So, you were forced into sobriety, but you chose it from the moment you woke up.
Jude: Yes, I decided that’s what I wanted. It was, like I said, something I had considered before. I’d been trying, actually and I had been almost a month sober at that point. I just wanted to see if I could stop using. So I was interested in getting clean before beforehand but it served as the final straw for me.
Jodi: So you had this time and space because you were sitting and recovering physically from the fall. How was the anxiety then, because you’re an active thinker with a very intelligent mind yet you were forced to be still? How was that?
Jude: It was really hard. It was really, really hard. Actually, my cannabis use was a huge part of my anxiety. Marijuana is easy to write it off as an anxiety reliever but just the state that it puts you in. But it causes a higher state of anxiety when coming off of it. I was detoxing for those first couple of weeks and I had a really, really hard time. I like to move a lot. I like to engage my mind and I didn’t really have anything to do. I was watching a lot of TV. I don’t really care so much for TV shows. Yeah, that was hard.
I was also reading a little bit. I really found that reading controls my anxiety a lot, which, makes sense because it’s an escape, right? So I was just choosing a different escape at that point. I was reading Lord of the Rings, a great, great series.
Jodi: Some escapes are good escapes.
Jude: Yeah. Some escapes are good escapes.
Jodi: I am all for reading fiction to help with anxiety, I think it’s really powerful because you’re in a relationship with the characters, and so you’re engaged, not disengaged.
Jude: I mean, I can’t say that I’ve ever cried after a TV show ending or a movie ending, but I get really invested in books. For those next couple of days, after I’m done with a book, I mourn the loss of that world. It’s just so fascinating, and I really get so engrossed in it and the characters and just the way that the author writes. I’m thinking of another series now, Aragon, by Christopher Paolini. The language is so beautiful. When I finished, I couldn’t read anything else for a week. I just had to sit with what I had just read. It’s transformative.
Jodi: Yeah, transformative, yeah. I liked what you said about cannabis because I find that a lot of the people I work with is that, think that cannabis decreases their anxiety. They think that they need to smoke it to sleep because it’s the only thing that relieves them. But I find that their anxiety goes up between smoking sessions because they are in withdrawal. They think it’s their baseline, but is not their real baseline.
Jude: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I was reaching a point where I would start having panic attacks and I attribute that to my cannabis use. The period in my life when my anxiety was the highest was between the ages of 16 and 19, which was dominated by cannabis use. It really affected my anxiety. When I would smoke weed, I had more anxiety. I would get paranoid, but at the time I kind of enjoyed being paranoid. (laugher) I would smoke and then go into a corner store and I’d be like, “Oh I wonder what everyone’s thinking about me?” which is just so egocentric. That was part of the appeal of cannabis for me. It was like…
Jodi: Kind of like a fishbowl?
Jude: Yeah like I was in a fishbowl or like an escape room. As if the people who worked there were watching me figure out the clues. It certainly was a very anxiety-producing time for me. It’s hard to know what’s causing anxiety and what’s relieving it, right? It stays in your body––it’s fat soluble––so it sticks around…so you’re always detoxing.
Jodi: Okay, you’re sober a year. The first few weeks were hard because you used to be active to keep your mind engaged. That’s how you dealt with your anxiety. However, you couldn’t do that after what you fell. What happened after those first few weeks?
Jude: Well, I started getting into a rhythm and doing things again. I went to drug counseling. I was in a group for addiction recovery, which was nice. Other young people were in that with me. I was going to a lot of recovery meetings. I did 90/90 which, is going to 90 meetings in 90 days. That was really helpful. I got involved in the recovery community. What else did I do? I started working with a recovery coach as well, named Robert Veter. He has been significantly instrumental to my long-term sobriety. His thing is to make recovery part of life but not have life only be about recovery. That’s a big difference. For our sessions, we’d go rock climbing or like last week we did hot yoga. In a couple of days, we’re going to go to a metal show. We do all of these things in which life occurs and do them with people who can appreciate the world’s beauty. Our work has changed a lot of it for me.
But back to what you were asking about anxiety…I was also getting out of my head, and realizing that other people struggle with this stuff too, and I’m not alone in it, and I don’t have to be alone in it. That was really powerful for me. I have pushed people away. I lied a lot during my addiction. So to be in such complete honesty in all of my relationships all of a sudden was a powerful thing. It really kind of took away this layer of lies that I had constructed for so long, where I had to keep track of what I said. “Okay, well, what did I say to this person? And how does that line up with what I’m going to say to this person?” Not having to do that freed up so much bandwidth that I was spending worrying about making sure my story lined up. You don’t really have to make sure your story lines up when you are just telling your true story.
Jodi: I observed something else, too, that I feel like you’ve touched on. There was all of a sudden a lack of resistance. You were talking about your stomach having been tight, and you were maybe running away from the thoughts, doing all these activities, always trying to keep yourself busy. There was a bit of resistance to the anxiety or something. And then there was a point after your fall, where there was a shift and you stop resisting things and it was like there was this openness which I think goes along with being truthful or being open or not pushing people away.
Jude: Right. You can only be as truthful with other people as you’re being with yourself. I was uncomfortable for a lot of my youth, I think. I felt like my interests did not align with what many people were interested in. I love to talk about music. I love listening to music. I was a curious kid. I asked a lot of questions which tended to annoy people. (laughter)
Jodi: It wasn’t annoying.
Jude: I would just non-stop ask questions. Some of which I knew the answer to, but I liked asking the question anyway. What I realized now is that there are people who share those interests with me. There are communities that I’m a part of now that are important to me and that I’m passionate about. I wasn’t really exploring my passions before, and, I didn’t have the words to describe what I was passionate about. I had no sense of belonging. No one else was doing what I was interested in. I think a lot of my being one of five kids made me hold on to this idea of following along.
I can remember before I did any student government, I said to myself, “I’m not going to tell my parents about this because none of my other siblings have done this.” It wasn’t so much shame as much as it was just like secrecy. Like, I just didn’t want them to know. It was my thing. But curiosity and those interests continued. What changed is my openness to explore who I want to be, to be more comfortable with who I am, and be able to be aware of my faults and shortcomings and be able to recognize them.
Jodi: So, in you’re recovery and all your learning and this sense of belonging and getting connected with the community and being open and honest, all the things you were talking about, how did it affect anxiety?
Jude: Yeah, if I look at my anxiety now, what I want to mention is my consumption of different things. Right now. I’m mostly straight-edge. I’m vegan, I don’t do drugs, and what I found is that a lot of the processed food that I was eating did not help with my anxiety. At Christmas time, I realized I was eating cookies all the time, and my anxiety was so high. So, now I know that my body is very sensitive to everything I put in it. I used to think that was BS. Something that my mom was often on about: she would talk about an “efficient meal,” and we kind of make fun of her for using the word efficient for a meal. We were raised vegetarian. There was a fair amount of disagreement over that, but we’ve all reverted to being vegetarian now. I thanked her the other day for 11 years of vegetarianism because it has made my body sensitive. I’m aware of the ways what I put in my body affects me.
My anxiety, in general, is manageable now. Part of that is that I’m on medication. I use an antidepressant at a high level, so I don’t know; I haven’t seen my baseline while sober. I don’t know what it would be like to remove that. Sometimes I wonder, What does a Jude, who’s just living on food and water, look like? But right now, it’s safe to be using antidepressants while I’m in such a transitionary period. Right now, I’m sure that helps with my anxiety.
What I noticed on a day-to-day basis is that caffeine plays a big part in my anxiety. If I don’t use any kind of caffeine during the day and I get out and do physical exercise, I only have a nominal amount of anxiety which is manageable. And then, when I experience big bouts of anxiety, I can usually pinpoint a reason for it. When that happens, I’m like, “Oh my God, this is just how I was for years!” I can’t believe that this was my baseline. Like, I’m sad for little Jude. It’s like when you have a thorn in your side, and you don’t realize how different it can be when it’s gone. It’s also been empowering to know anxiety is not something that’s permanent.
I was looking through the first page of your book, and I know that’s kind of one of the first things you touch on is the idea that this isn’t going to be permanent. That’s a huge part of how I live my life now, recognizing the impermanence of everything. Anxiety, specifically when I’m thinking about how high my anxiety is at times, but all kinds of things, cravings, happiness, sadness, joy, they all come and go it all just kind of goes along with impermanence for me.
Jodi: Cool. You mentioned so many things that you use in a daily way or you participate in a daily way to support yourself. Maybe we could just summarize by listing the things that you take to keep your mental health as good as you do.
Jude: Yeah, so I think I would start with my new understanding of my relationship to my body and my mind. I believe in a body, mind, and soul. During the anxious years of my life, I was stuck in my head and not listening to my body. This is how I describe anxiety: it’s like you’re not listening to your body and what it needs.
One thing I do is meditate. Usually, you think about how the mind controls the body, but now I see that the body can control the mind. In meditation, that comes from the stillness––the belief that a still body stills the mind. That’s helped me to look at how the body and mind goes hand in hand.
If I were to sum it up in things that I do every day, I think I would probably say diet. One thing that’s become important to me is hydration. Being fully hydrated seems like a small thing, but I feel so much better after I drink a ton of water, and I feel hydrated for the day. Two, for me, is having something to do with my hands. I get a little antsy when I don’t have anything to do, so I play guitar to have something to do with my hands. I express my anxiety is through this restlessness of my body, and so doing something helps me regulate it. (That kind of goes opposite to what I said about stillness. In moments where I can’t be still, it’s been really helpful for me to use my hands.
Jodi: You could be meditative about movement too.
Jude: Oh, absolutely. I’m sure playing the guitar is very meditative in a lot of ways. Yeah, there’s a practice to it, too, in the same way that there’s a practice to meditation. It’s kind of moving from one thing to the next. But let’s see what would my third thing be?
Jodi: You said exercise?
Jude: Oh, I didn’t say exercise! Exercise is probably the other big thing. So eating right, hydrating, meditating, having something to do with my hands, yeah well I think what it all comes down to is having a creative outlet. That can include reading, right? Reading a good fiction book is getting into another world. I feel the same as when I play music. Music is practicing or producing something. But reading is also a creative outlet, I create the visuals that go with the story in my mind.
Jodi: Excellent. Well, you are validating what I already told them this season, so it’s really awesome. It’s been great sitting down with you. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Anything else you think you left out or I forgot to ask you about?
Jude: I don’t know. I guess we didn’t talk too much about Generation Z …but what would I say in terms of that? I guess I don’t know what I would say.
Jodi: What do you think about your generation and what’s happening with them?
Jude: My generation kind of bugs me a little bit, mostly just in how we interact. Part of becoming honest with myself has been a move toward interacting in a way that I enjoy, which is face-to-face. I struggle when I see people with their heads in their phones all the time, so I make an active effort not to do that. Instead, I try to be present for the world around me. It makes me wonder what’s so unappealing about this world that makes us always go to our phones.
Jodi: Do you think that’s why people look at their phones? Because the world’s not appealing?
Jude: I think it’s an anxiety thing in part. If I’m sitting in a room looking straight ahead, it’s weird. But if I’m on my phone, that’s more socially acceptable. So, now I just like stare at a wall when I’m like in a waiting room. Or I stare at other people. Yeah, then I get really get some attention! (laughter) But I’m leaning into getting comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s a big part of what not using my phone has been for me. It’s like a pacifier, something familiar.
Jodi: Do you think your generation has trouble being uncomfortable?
Jude: I think that my generation has become familiar with being comfortable. I think that’s kind of the default setting, and I think a lot of the things we do are like pacifiers in one way or another, being on our phones and consuming media. Sorry, this is getting a little bit ranty. I don’t mean to be. I don’t think phones are good, but yeah that’s just what I believe. I could talk about that for a while, but I won’t.
Jodi: It’s okay. I did a whole episode on it. Not no phones but how phones are affecting us. I think they produce a huge source of anxiety.
Jude: When I open social media, that primary trigger for me is anxiety. I think, “Oh I haven’t checked this recently. I need to check it.” Are you familiar with the idea of how refreshing social media and seeing if you have anything new gives you the same brain response as getting all sevens on a slot machine? So interesting! I’d open social media, and I could feel the reward or disappointment according to whether I have new notifications or not, which is just like a total hijacking of our brains.
Sometimes the notifications aren’t very interesting. It’s the buzz that’s more exciting. It reminds me of addiction because that’s my experience. They’ve done studies about the process of making a drug deal sometimes has the exact same effect on the brain as actually taking the drugs. It’s like that same kind of idea, right? It’s like you might get something. It’s the chance of getting a notification that compels you to look. And then, I spend time on social media, so one of my big 2023 goals is to spend less time on my phone.
Jodi: How will you do that?
Jude: Well, I work at a guitar repair shop between the hours of 11 and 5. I’m not on my phone there because I just enjoy being present so much. I surround myself with people now who rarely use their phones. This year, I want to focus on becoming more present and being in situations where I feel present, so I don’t need to look at my phone. I just want to enjoy the moment.
Jodi: Excellent. Cool. What are some messages of hope you want to send out to young people? (People younger than you, people your age, maybe a little older.)
Jude: That it can all change. And the amount of time it takes to change is kind of misleading. When you start changing your behaviors, it feels like this huge mountain, but looking back, when you’re feeling better, you realize that it didn’t take that long. Just take it day by day and keep making the decisions that will lead you in the right direction. Remember, every day is different. Believing in my ability to affect my day and be my own change-maker has been really important to me. I have the power to change myself. That belief is one of the most important things that I’ve developed this year.
Jodi: How’d you learn that?
Jude: One way I heard it expressed really well is that my courage and my faith are represented in a candle. Sometimes other people have to hold that candle. I have had people in my life who’ve been able to hold that candle for me and remind me of now I can do this. They believed in me. Having someone that believes in you, even if it’s not yourself initially, is so important. I know, especially for myself in that early time, I relied a lot on what other people thought of me. Luckily, I was surrounded by people who knew me as I wanted me to be me. This continues to be really important to me.
Jodi: So sometimes people held your candle for you when you couldn’t hold it? Or held hope for you, believed in you, at times when you didn’t believe in yourself? And that helped you to be able to take your candle back sometimes right? Not that they stopped holding it, but they re-lit yours or something?
Jude: Yeah, and so if I think about my relationship with Robert, my recovery coach, a lot of the things we did put me really outside my comfort zone. I’d be like, I don’t really want to do this, or I can’t do this, and he’s like, “Yeah, you can, I know you can.” It was a little bit frustrating because I knew he was right.
Jodi: What did he make you do?
Jude: All kinds of things. We would go for runs in the early morning at 6 am, at a park on a Friday, and it’s like 30 degrees out. I’d be like, “Robert, I just do not want to do this right now.” He was like, “Yeah, me neither, but let’s go do it.” He was getting me used to being uncomfortable.
Jodi: Yeah, absolutely, and being okay with it.
Jude: Yeah, and as time has gone on, I’ve gotten to be the one that’s pushing a little bit. I’m trying to get him to go skydiving because he has a fear of heights, but we’re taking that one step at a time.
Jodi: I’ll go with you!
Jude; Oh really? (laugher) I’m hoping to do that before the summer.
Jodi: So he just keeps inviting you to hold your own candle, and you’re like, I don’t want to hold it, but he’s like, hold it!
Jude: Yeah. And, sometimes, it’s like my candle isn’t lit right now, and he knows. So he’s always providing that kind of hope for me, which is so important. I think in whatever kind of life you want to live, believing in yourself is really an important part of living your best life.
Jodi: Well, we all believe in you always. We always have and will believe that you’ll do great things, and we’re here to watch it! Thank you for having this conversation, especially for your frankness and openness.
Jude: Yeah, of course. It’s been great to talk with you, and thank you for all of your insightful questions.
Jodi: No problem. I think it’s going to help a lot of people to know that they’re not alone. Perhaps, you all can think about Jude and me holding the candle for you. As if we are reaching out through this audio and lighting your candle. Even though we don’t know you, we believe in you.
I’ve seen people overcome the hardest times; that’s why I believe in you that whatever you might be going through; it will change. We will hold this flame for you until you can light your own with it again.
Thank you so much for listening to this bonus episode of “Anxiety…I’m so done with you!” with me, Dr. Jodi. In this episode, Jude and I have been talking about his journey through anxiety and drug use, how he has been working on being uncomfortable, and managing his anxiety through community and daily practices that keep him feeling good.
Come to my blog post that goes along with this episode for more resources for your recovery journey. The link to that is in the show notes. Please don’t forget to leave me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts, and while you’re waiting for Season 2 to drop, come and hang out with me on TikTok at DoctorJodi.