I have spent the bulk of my 30+ year career working toward one primary goal: to provide free or inexpensive ways to orient as many people as possible to treatment for anxiety disorders and to help them become educated consumers. And because including a video component seems to help us absorb information, I have developed and released a six-episode scripted series titled “The Noise in Your Head.”
This goal was ambitious; I had no clue how one would accomplish this. So I hired a producer and a writer/director, and after two months of pre-production, we set up shop in a 2,450-square-foot film studio in Burbank, California. (“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Chapel Hill anymore.”)
The clever, comedic, and concise videos follow Susan, a young woman who struggles with anxiety, and applies cognitive treatment principles to her everyday life. From yoga class to the window seat of an airplane, Susan engages Anxiety in a variety of situations in a competition to win her life back, ultimately quieting the noise in her head.
I’m pleased to report that the videos, now available on the Noise in Your Head website, have been integrated into classes and treatment programs around the world.
Anxiety generates unhelpful worries and obsessions, even when it’s inconvenient. Yes, even in the middle of Susan’s yoga class. To take on this cunning and persuasive challenger, Susan will need an outcome picture, grit, trust, and courage.
Susan is constantly getting sucked into the content of her worries. In this episode, she experiments with living with doubt and uncertainty. She could even start to welcome the uncertainty. Crazy, right?
You must go toward the stuff that scares you, but action is not enough. Minutes before her flight leaves the ground, Susan learns that she must willingly choose to feel awkward, uncomfortable, and unsure.
In this episode, Susan goes head-to-head with her challenger in an epic tennis match. To win, she must ignore Anxiety’s messages or—if that doesn’t work—ask him to give her more anxious thoughts and feelings.
Susan gets behind the wheel and puts her new principles to the test in an intense “practice.” Her goal is simple: Score points against Anxiety and begin to win her life back.
For Susan—and for all of us—Anxiety is here to stay. Sometimes Anxiety can be incredibly helpful, signaling something worthy of our attention. And the rest of the time? Well, the rest is just noise. It’s time to leave the noise behind.
You can view the episodes one at a time or binge-watch the whole series like House of Cards. Whatever method you choose, don’t hesitate to share.
“The Noise in Your Head” videos are adapted from Stopping the Noise in Your Head: The New Way to Overcome Anxiety and Worry, HCI Books, 2016.