I am very excited. It has been exactly one year that my brother and I conceived of an idea to create a resource manual to aid mental health workers and any potential helpers to aid those in need to effectively cope with their stress, anxiety, frustration, and depression without the use of medication.
The context is important. I love my brother but he has been a hard headed realist who would under "normal" conditions never ever consider going to a psychotherapist. Like many he is a believer in using your will power to "get over it." Thus it was a shock that he called on thanksgiving day to tell me he was out of the hospital having received a multiple bypass two days before and was alive but he was now scared to death, and obviously stressed out. He thought I would understand.
He indicated that while the operation was supposed to be a complete success he was getting the same feelings he had just before his heart attack. I instantly thought he might be having a panic attack and asked him if I could do my "shrink" thing. He said that was the reason why he was calling me.
In our talking together for the next few hours it was clear that he was soaking up the concepts I gave him including how anxiety and stress feel, what causes them, his attitude to both experiencing them, his attitude towards having them, his associated fantasies, how they affect his self esteem regulation and the likes....
Much of what I told him instantly resonated - other material perplexed him because of the language I used. As we talked he got increasingly more excited applying my perspective and using the concepts as psychological tools.
In the next day’s conversation he said he finally understood what I do for a living and was clearly impressed. He also suggested we write a resource manual. We did exactly that collaborating for the last year on a daily basis.
I was able to distill forty years of personal and professional experience. My brother was able to transform my sometimes too abstract language into clear enough words such that an intelligent 12 year old could effectively use the material to be potentially helpful.
One of our joint basic assumptions is that while medication is indeed necessary for some people we both agree that the "pop a pill" mentality is too pervasive and that what is shamefully underplayed is the highly significant contribution made by a person's attitudes(whether care giver or person in need of a helping hand) in both causing and sustaining the experience of their stress, anxiety, frustration, and depression.
It has been a remarkable experience to have reconciled after such a lengthy gap only filled in with our annual happy birthday calls to each other. From the perspective of forty to fifty years it is easy to see some of the complicated reasons for the gap. Among them were differences in style and perception; intolerance of differences in general; competition on both our parts - I was the good son and he was the black sheep until our mother died, our father remarried, and there was an immediate shift with regards to the status of "most favored" versus black sheep; our step mother consciously or unconsciously reinforcing our division so we wouldn't unite against her; force of habit and who knows what else.
In a way it has been a benefit for both of us to have waited so long... I received sage guidance from an older man who once had been a busboy in a ritzy hotel resort in New Hampshire who said to me just before I was to do my busboy thing at the same resort: "tell the hungry mob the longer you wait the better it tastes."
I have waited a long time to be able to have a spontaneous free collaboration with my brother. It has been an amazing year of steady almost daily contact - back and forth - each of us contributing our own input in our own individual ways to the production of this resource manual....
Our collaboration is testimony that significant change can indeed occur even when it appears as if the matter is existentially foreclosed forever. But change has to begin with a mutual change to change. That is both parties have to be ready, willing, and able to change. In my case there is no doubt that my lengthy psychoanalysis has enable me to be more objective, more tolerant of differences, less fearful of being direct and real, better able to hold steady under pressure, have convictions, be more empathic, not personalize, and have realistic expectations.
In having both of us matured to some large measure, we have created what I sincerely believe to be an outstanding breakthrough in helping people cope with anxiety, stress, depression and frustration. The value of our shared experience is that every word in our Attitude Shifting Resource Manual is the byproduct of our jointly struggling with struggle to cope with our individual and joint stress, anxiety, depression and frustration.
If any of you are interested in seeing the outcome of our joint effort I invite you to take a look at our brand new website (launched last night) called http://www.AttitudeShifting.com .