From 8 Days Without Sleep to Parasailing in 15 Weeks: Barbara Linney Shares Her Anxiety Recovery Story
Barbara Linney joins Erica on the podcast to share her amazing story of overcoming severe anxiety using the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program in 1984. Highlights include:
A few standout quotes include:
"At that seven week mark, I thought, 'Okay, whatever that is, I can't do anything about it. Drive on home and let it go.'"
"Your mind just kind of gets clearer anyway, once you've learned to relax your body."
"It's very, very exciting. And they used to tell me regularly, 'I know this is boring. We don't care, do it anyway. It'll fix you.'"
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[00:00:00] Erica: One of the things we get asked a lot is how long does it take to get better?
For me, when I was going through the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program, at about the midpoint, I realized I wasn't waking up in a panic in the middle of the night anymore. And at about week 12, I began taking elevators again. Which was a huge deal for me.
But today's guest, at only 15 weeks, went parasailing in Acapulco. That's right. She went from 8 days without sleeping because she was having such bad panic attacks, to flying to Mexico, and then parasailing in only 15 weeks.
So, I'm excited to share this conversation with Barbara Linney, because I feel like it doesn't even sound real, but it is. She went through the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program almost 40 years ago in 1984, and she is still anxiety free.
So if you want to read more about her story, it's included in our free book, Free From Fears. You can get a free copy of that at FreeFromFearsBook.Com. And to find out more about the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program, come have a look at CHAANGE.Com. Now, on to the show.
[00:01:06] Erica: Welcome to the Life Free of Anxiety Podcast, where each week we'll bring you another discussion to help you on your way to overcoming your fears. I'm Erica and together with Dr. Charles Barr, a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in anxiety, we'll be your guides on this journey. Because you are not broken, you are not alone.
And you are on your way to living a life free of anxiety.
[00:01:40] Erica: All right. Well, I am very excited to have Barbara Linney join us. Hi Barbara. Thanks for being here.
[00:01:47] Guest: Barbara: Thank you. I'm thrilled to be here.
[00:01:49] Erica: It's interesting. You actually found us because you used the CHAANGE Program in 1984 and it's something you've been recommending to people since 1984, because you used it yourself. Correct?
[00:02:03] Guest: Barbara: That's right.
[00:02:04] Erica: So you reached out to us and found our podcast and we got a lovely email from you.
And then we realized that you are in your story is actually featured in the book Free From Fears, which is our giveaway right now, at FreeFromFearsBook.com. And I really like how they put your story in.
First of all, you have a fake name. You're Betty Lewis in the book, but, but we've got your beginning of starting the program. And then we've got your middle point of doing the program and your end .And it's only a matter of weeks from when you start by not sleeping for eight days straight to parasailing in Acapulco by the end.
So tell me how, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you located now? Just tell me a little bit about you.
[00:02:51] Guest: Barbara: I'm located now in Charlotte, North Carolina. We began at my husband's career here in 1972. He was a pediatrician here in Charlotte and I was the mother of two young children got a master's degree here. And when I finished the master's degree was when I had my first panic attack, but I'll get back to that.
I taught in colleges here at University of North Carolina at Charlotte and had a job at Queens College for a year before we moved.
And we moved for his career. I went to Florida and was extremely unhappy there the first year, even though I had agreed to go. I had had a couple of panic attacks before we left. And I kinda thought that I don't know the higher powers were getting after me because I didn't want to move and leave Charlotte, which was just part of my wild thinking then.
But anyway, I had a couple, but then when I got to Florida, I had more. And then I went eight days without sleep. And I called my friend up here who had recommended the CHAANGE Program. And it said, tell me more about it.
And I'll skip ahead to, I got better and we'll do the details of that. I taught in five colleges in three colleges in Florida and got all of the coursework done for a PhD at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
And I began teaching communication skills to physicians who were moving into administrative positions. And that caused me to travel. All over the country for 22 years, doing that. Now, without the CHAANGE Program, that would not have been able to happen.
[00:04:39] Erica: Hmm. Yeah. It seems like these stories are so typical. There's panic attacks then are there, there's generally a move somewhere in there for people. I hear that all the time. There's a big move, a big change, big life change. And then a lot of times travel involved with jobs and careers and what am I going to do if you know, I have a panic attack and this is my job. This is my livelihood.
[00:05:03] Erica: What was your first panic attack like? What were your symptoms like really when you were in your anxiety?
[00:05:11] Guest: Barbara: Well, the very surprising thing to me is I woke up in the night with it.
I was asleep. I woke up with a pounding heart, sweat all over. I had a dream that I was in a coffin. I jumped out of the bed and ran to the window to open the blinds, to see if the outside was still there. And I was on vacation in Florida, had finished the master's degree a month before now.
There had been enormous pressure before. I finished the degree cause I had oral exams and I had an oral presentation for my thesis and all that goes with that.
So things should have been better. And they weren't. I mean, when I, I just didn't know what to make of what this was. I came home. I was in a support group of women that we had been meeting every, every other week for several years.
One of them was a counselor. I described what had happened. And she said, you know, there's this program I think that fixes that. And I thought, well, she don't know what she's talking about and it didn't happen anymore for a while. So I didn't, I didn't do anything.
[00:06:24] Erica: Right. I think those nighttime panic attacks too, are kind of like a ball submerged, underwater, you know, like a basketball, you put underwater in a pool, it's going to fling back up out of nowhere. And it's just like, I think that's how those nighttime panic attacks are because you put so much pressure on yourself and it all get submerged and then up it goes and you're like "what happened? That was kind of a violent to pushback."
[00:06:53] Guest: Barbara: It really was a violent first one. Now two or three later, you know, I thought, okay. You know, I kinda knew that I had had this before, so it wasn't as much of a surprise and I never got, so I couldn't go places. I just was miserable a lot of places that I went.
[00:07:11] Erica: So that's what Dr. Barr calls the white knuckling people. There's some people who have a whole list of things they've stopped doing. And then there's some people who just can't, who are just keep going through life, but they never quite feel comfortable in all these situations. It sounds like that's where you were at.
[00:07:27] Guest: Barbara: That's where I was at.
I was particularly uncomfortable in a car when, not so much when I was driving. If I was with my husband or somebody else driving, I was worried about that. I was very afraid of flying.
My husband went on one or two business trips a year that I would go with him. And I was very anxious as I packed my clothes to get ready, to go on a trip, very nervous on the plane. And when I started listening to the tapes, when we went on a trip, I would listen to them in the car all the way to the airport...
[00:08:05] Erica: the relaxation tapes?
[00:08:07] Guest: Barbara: The relaxation tape, yes. And I did that. When I started flying for my own work. I still did that and I did it so much that for the rest of my flying career, when I would get on a plane, I would sit down, buckle up, put my head back. And almost go to sleep well, most of the time go to sleep.
Just kind of fall out until the drink cart game.
[00:08:33] Erica: Hmm.
[00:08:34] Guest: Barbara: I had listened to that relaxation tape so much to get me onto the plane.
[00:08:39] Erica: I'm sure the rest of the flight actually wasn't even unpleasant because you had gotten into such a relaxed state from the get go.
That's awesome. , So in the book here, you have a different name. We've mentioned that Betty Lewis. What was your experience like being a part of the book?
That you had your beginning, your middle and your end documented.
[00:08:59] Guest: Barbara: Well, they used to do that. I would get a audio tape every week. And we had the relaxation tape that we were supposed to listen to and my children were eight and 10 thought their mother had gone crazy, but they didn't care because they knew I was better to live with.
Uh, and they didn't really understand what was going on, but they asked us how we felt at the beginning, a middle of the road, evaluation and an end of the road, end of the program evaluation.
And they had said, you know, " we're asking you to do something very tedious, not hard, but a bit boring. And we're really wanting you to do it a lot of times." And, I trusted them. I've never gone without sleep for eight days before, but I was willing to do anything anybody said to not do that anymore.
[00:09:52] Erica: Right. And there's a part of the program where they say somebody they were working with had some resistance and Faison says, "well, what if we told you that if you did all of these things, that by the end of the program, you would be better?" And the person says, "well, I, I would do them. Of course I would do anything."
And she says, "well, that's what we're telling you." And that's really, that's really it isn't it? That if you do it, how you're asked to, you're going to have amazing results.
[00:10:20] Guest: Barbara: Well, the first two weeks of the pandemic. I got out my relaxation tape again and began to listen to it regularly, to calm myself down because this was a brand new event in my life.
And I began to say the positive affirmations that I used to roll in my head all the time, because I said them so much.
I got them back out to help me settle down. And I've been really thrilled. And pleased to know that within two weeks of this, now I'm not happy about how things are, but I have settled down and I'm, I imposed a little structure on my life.
[00:11:02] Erica: And how many years after doing the CHAANGE Program, did you pull out these tools for a completely unexpected pandemic that arrived?
[00:11:11] Guest: Barbara: Uh, let's see. '84... '94... '05... so 30 some years.
[00:11:16] Erica: Thirty something years later.
[00:11:17] Guest: Barbara: Yeah. Now I've pulled them out many times over the years, I mean, I've listened to the tapes all over again in 2012, when my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's, I just needed a whole new run through.
But it settled me down and we're living with it well enough.
[00:11:38] Erica: Wow. How was your life significantly different by the end of the CHAANGE Program? I know we said you were parasailing and but what happened with sleep? Did you, have you always slept well since, or mostly slept well since okay.
[00:11:51] Guest: Barbara: I've mostly slept well. since, At the seven week mark, I was driving home from Tampa when they said things would be better. And I remember seeing a plane, I was near Disney world and a plane was very low as if it was going to crash. And I remember thinking, "okay, prior to CHAANGE, I would have known that plane was gonna crash into me."
[00:12:13] Erica: Uh, huh.
[00:12:14] Guest: Barbara: At that seven week mark, I thought, "okay. Whatever that is, I can't do anything about it. Drive on home and let it go." And I would have rehearsed that in my head prior to the CHAANGE Program and worried about what happened and thought about all the plane crashes they could have. And I just didn't do it. I just stopped that.
Then at the 15 week mark, I knew my body was relaxed in ways it never had been. And so we went on this trip to Acapulco, which was a business trip for my husband. And he went straight to the meeting rooms and I went straight upstairs to the hotel room, look out the window at the beach and there they were parasailing. And I thought, "well, you know, they've been talking about, we really need to try new experiences and I've been trying various new experiences."
I had tried, everything that bothered me before I'd given it a try. I thought this would really be the ultimate new experience to try. And I thought, "don't think about it. Just go down there and see what happens."
But I did call the front desk and say, "what does it cost?"
"It costs $10."
I went, I put on a bathing suit. I went down there, handed them the $10 and before I took too many more breaths. I was in the air
[00:13:32] Erica: Wow.
[00:13:34] Guest: Barbara: and I remember thinking, okay, um, I'm where I want to be. I'm a whole lot better than I used to be.
[00:13:42] Erica: Yeah. And you didn't even like flying. So that's...
[00:13:45] Guest: Barbara: That's right.
[00:13:46] Erica: ...parasailing is a whole different story.
[00:13:49] Guest: Barbara: And I like flying so much now. It was part of my work that I loved. Cause whenever I was flying, I was going somewhere to teach a program. And so anytime I'm in an airport, I'm excited. Cause it means I'm getting ready to either go see a child, one of my grandchildren or I'm going on a trip or I'm going to work, which I am always very excited in the airport, which is very different than
[00:14:15] Erica: That's cool. Yeah. I think it's interesting what you were saying about getting better. It's a lot of times, it's not like you're sitting there thinking, "okay, I'm... I'm better. I'm better," all day. It's like something generally happens where you say, "ah, right. That's interesting. That didn't seem to bother me as much," or I think I could actually, I think I could go try that right now or, or even a couple of days later.
Hey, I guess I haven't really been feeling much because I think it's really a mystery to people who wonder what is it like to get better? How do you measure that? How does that look? And it's, it's very subtle. It's very, "Oh, I'm starting to live my life again. Okay." It's not anything gigantic.
That's popping out moment by moment.
[00:15:02] Guest: Barbara: That's
[00:15:03] Erica: That's exactly how I feel you described it. And that's exactly what the program says is you're always going to get better and you're going to see it in retrospect generally.
[00:15:12] Guest: Barbara: Yeah, you sort of slide into it and you realize one day you just haven't thought about it one way or the other for a long
[00:15:18] Erica: Right. Yeah. I love that.
[00:15:21] Guest: Barbara: And then sometimes life will throw your curve ball and you have a thought, Oh, What I do now, now I know what to do. You know, I don't allow my body to rev up. Um, and I've given, I gave up caffeine completely.
[00:15:38] Erica: So you never went back.
[00:15:40] Guest: Barbara: I never went back.
[00:15:41] Erica: Do you find that that your system has continuously stayed in a much calmer state since doing the CHAANGE Program, even though you have revisited it? Do you still find that from that first time of doing it, of doing the program, that you're still a different person from that first time?
[00:15:59] Guest: Barbara: Yes. And I've never had to do what I did then again. Because my body can remember quicker, much quicker what to do.
[00:16:11] Erica: Yeah. You trained your body...
[00:16:13] Guest: Barbara: It'll just say, and you know scare yourself because you don't, you know, what's happening.
You know what you're doing to yourself and I learned to stop.
[00:16:23] Erica: Wow. That's awesome that you've had... so, I mean, this is such a cool thing to be able to talk to somebody who's had such longterm success. I mean, this is definitely longterm success and for something that is so important for just everyday living, it's extremely encouraging to hear.
What about for Free From Fears? Do you have any thoughts on that book? We're offering it free right now? Would you say to our listeners that they need this book or...?
[00:16:49] Guest: Barbara: I think it's a great book to read. The first four sessions of the program are really educating you about what's happening to you.
And, you kind of need that before you begin to believe that you can really turn that around. And I think the book is a good base for that. I felt it was a good summary of what we went through, but not a replacement for it. It won't fix you by itself.
[00:17:15] Erica: Right. But it's...
[00:17:16] Guest: Barbara: ...just reading the book. Cause I had read lots of books and I had also listened to a lot of relaxation tapes. One time.
[00:17:24] Erica: Me too.
[00:17:25] Guest: Barbara: Oh, well that didn't work.
[00:17:26] Erica: Yup. That's so funny. Cause when I met Dr. Barr, I was his client and he said, " I have this program and it's going to get you better."
And I said, "well, what does it do?"
And he said, "well, you have to do body relaxation exercises. And I said, Oh, I already have done those. I've done them with my last counselor. They don't work."
And he said, "well, this is different. You're going to work a program and this is going to give you great success."
And I, "Oh, I don't think so. Cause I've already done this."
And it was so funny cause now I talk about relaxation exercises as a complete life changing....
[00:17:58] Guest: Barbara: And breathing.
[00:17:59] Erica: Yeah. And you know, all of the apps and stuff that are out there, they call it meditation. And most people call it meditation. I just specifically try not to. And I see you do too, because we're made, I believe we are created to relax and to learn how to do that. And that, to me, that's spiritual, but that's in the back of my mind, doesn't need to be in anyone else's. This is strictly just how do we relax ourselves, which is so great. Cause it's for everyone.
So is there anything else I missed about your story? Cause I think your story is super cool. I love that people can read it in Free From Fears when they grab the book at FreeFromFearsBook.com.
But is there anything I missed that you'd want to say to us.
[00:18:39] Guest: Barbara: Well, I have recommended it to people that I have worked with all these last 34 years. I think it is because I did a lot of coaching for physicians who were moving into administrative positions and whenever it would come up that, you know, they were very anxious about what they were doing. I would recommend the relaxation exercise first and for some of them the whole program.
And I'm really glad to have found you and was thrilled to hear both of your voices, Dr. Barr and you and I listened before I contacted you. I found the podcast, and I listened to about five of them and I thought, okay, a good, smooth, soft voice in Dr. Barr and a really great radio podcast, clear voice in Erica. Two people have got a good thing going. I'm excited we'll have it as a resource again.
[00:19:41] Erica: Oh, thank you. Yeah. And we hope that the podcast can be additional learning through the CHAANGE Program or for the CHAANGE Program and support because the CHAANGE Program has a lot to it. And sometimes people have questions and we love to just give you additional learning and tips and all of that. And have somebody like you come on, who said I did this over 30 years ago and had great success.
And having somebody like Faison on who, you know, is in the original program as well. And now to be able to talk with her, I, I felt like I was talking to somebody really famous when I talked to her. I think you probably felt a pretty big blast from the past when you heard her voice.
[00:20:22] Guest: Barbara: I really did when I heard. And then I saw her, you know, on the video and I thought, you know, we both live in Charlotte. I really ought to call her and tell her what a difference she made in my life.
I remember that I think Faison said that therapy is a good thing and you need it, but it won't fix you. And what I found is I did some therapy. In Florida when I wasn't sleeping, I did both at the same time cause I was grabbing at straws and I felt like the CHAANGE Program enabled me to carry out some of the things I've learned in therapy. Whereas without it, I don't know that I would have done anything except talk about it.
[00:21:05] Erica: Yeah. You kind of get that clear thinking once you've gone through the program of putting it all together as one, because there's a lot of well-meaning therapists out there and there's a lot of therapists with really good information, but to put it all together into one piece, I think is, is where the CHAANGE Program comes in.
Your mind just kind of gets clearer anyway, once you've learned to relax your body. So I think that's when all the learning really can happen and growth, then. It's such a hard to explain experience of going through the program. You know, I've been through it myself with when I had debilitating anxiety, Dr. Barr has been through it. You've been through it. So, I just hope that we have excited those listening because they should be excited because...
[00:21:48] Guest: Barbara: yes, they should be excited.
[00:21:49] Erica: Yeah. And I love that you agree with me on that.
[00:21:52] Guest: Barbara: Yes, it's very, very exciting. And they used to tell me regularly. "I know this is boring. We don't care, do it anyway. It'll fix you."
And that's the truth.
[00:22:02] Erica: Yeah, it's a very short, short time of your life to make some sacrifices, to, you know, be able to say 34 years later on a podcast, look at my life is still significantly different from making those sacrifices.
[00:22:15] Guest: Barbara: Yes.
[00:22:16] Erica: All right, Barbara. Well, thank you so much for being on with us and sharing everything that happened and, and all the success you had with CHAANGE. And, remember, you can see Barbara story in FreeFromFearsB ook.com.
That's where you'll get the book Free From Fears. And you'll see other success stories as well and you'll learn about the CHAANGE Program in general that book. But Barbara, thank you for being here and we hope to have you on again sometime.
[00:22:41] Guest: Barbara: Well, It's a pleasure to talk to you and I'd be happy to be on anytime.
[00:22:46] Erica: Okay, Bye
Ah, did that not convince you that the change program is amazing? Barbara reached out to us. Just to remind you, we didn't reach out to her. She found us and as you heard, she's just so excited because even though it was created a little while ago, all the information is still exactly what you need to recover from anxiety.
And it's also the information that you're not finding to recover from anxiety. I know I wasn't, and I know this was my answer and it was Dr. Barr's answer to getting better from anxiety. So to be a part of that that's changed with two A's dot com.
Be sure to sign up for it. You will not regret it. And if you're interested in the book Free From Fears, which I told you Barbara's story is in, you can get that book at FreeFromFearsBook.com. Okay. I will talk to you next week.
[00:23:35] Erica: Thanks so much for tuning in today. I hope that something in today's conversation provided you with a feeling of hope, determination, or purpose. I know what you're going through, and that's why I want to give you some of the tools that helped me in my anxiety journey. To get a free copy of Free From Fears head to freefromfearsbook.com to find out more about the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program.
Find us at CHAANGE.com Thanks again for listening.
And remember you are not broken You are not alone and you are on your way to living a life free of anxiety. See you next