Anxiety RX: A Powerful Prescription for Healing Your Worries

Put your worrying mind aside and read Anxiety Rx by Russell Kennedy. If you are like me, you will be a changed person long before you read the last page.

Kennedy is a doctor, neuroscientist, developmental psychologist and a professional stand-up comedian, but his words on these pages are no joke.

I highlighted quotes that caused me to stop, ponder, go back, and read again. One stood out:

“I can tell you from personal experience that believing we will be healed by some doctor, treatment, supplement, patch, drug, psychedelic, guided meditation, yoga nidra, hypnosis, meditation, or therapy is a fool’s errand.”

He is not against these strategies, though. He has tried many of them himself. So what does he propose? He writes that you can best heal anxiety by finding its source: your body, not your mind. When you find yourself in “alarm,” or worrying, go directly to your body, find where the alarm is. Kennedy proposes embracing the child in us. The child who was scarred. He describes a series of methods to connect with the places where our bodies feel the worry and heal the old wounds by being kind to ourselves.

“The leap of faith comes when your adult self opens the chest, pulls out your innocent child self, and fully accepts, embraces, and loves them,” he advises.

The cure is not easy, Kennedy writes. Worry is an addiction, “rewarding you with dopamine each time you do it.” But regular attention to the alarm in your body is the best way out.

Some readers might criticize Anxiety Rx for being repetitive, but I found that quality to be a strength.

Kennedy’s story is personal. His father lived a life of mental illness, eventually committing suicide. The author carries guilt about how he used to feel embarrassed by his dad.

Feel free to share your thoughts about his book here.

13 Reasons Why: A Search for Answers

After a loved one takes their own life, family and friends are often left wondering. What did I miss? Could I have prevented it? They try to answer the big question: Why? Guilt and confusion sometimes accompany grief and even anger.

Before 17-year-old Hannah Baker commits suicide, she narrates 13 cassette-tape recordings on seven double-sided tapes. Two weeks after her death, Clay Jensen, her high school classmate who so badly had wanted to ask her out, finds a shoebox on his doorstep. Inside he finds the tapes with a note to pass them on to the next person who is addressed by Hannah Baker’s words.

In the young adult novel, 13 Reasons Why, author Jay Asher describes how each recording is aimed at a person or event that contributed to Hannah’s decision to take her own life. Her goal is to answer the question: Why?

The story alternates between her words and Clay Jensen’s thoughts and reactions as he struggles with guilt and anticipates what Hannah will finally say about his role.

The compelling story weaves depression and teen angst with scenes of bullying, rumor-mongering, stalking, lying, and a horrific crime. Clay Jensen realizes it’s not about what he did, but about his missed opportunities.

A New York Times bestseller for three years, 13 Reasons Why drew critics and demands across the country to ban the book and keep it away from impressionable young people. Some called Hannah Baker a “drama queen” who should have been tougher. Others questioned whether teen-agers really take “little” things so seriously. For Hannah, life is a snowball of painful events that spins beyond her control.

The reality is that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 10-to-24-year-olds and the list of causes includes depression, substance abuse, sex abuse, social isolation and bullying.

Normally, I read the book before watching the movie or TV show. In this case, I watched all four seasons of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why a while back, then recently read the book. The first season’s episodes expose the recordings and Hannah’s life; the other seasons extend the story into the aftermath. During the first season, I was drawn to each episode, thinking the story would help troubled youths deal with difficult issues and even encourage some to reach out for help. Others might be led to realize how “little” comments or deeds can cause devastating pain.

Although I sometimes had trouble remembering that the italic font was Hannah talking, I found her story and Clay’s reactions realistic. My heart ached as Clay cried. I looked for words that would bring comfort for Hannah’s family and friends.

But, despite her recorded words, I was still left wondering about Hannah Baker’s death.

Why?