According to the National Institute of Mental Health anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population — and they cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill.
Still, many suffer in silence, too embarrassed to seek treatment.
Adam Shaw was one of those people, having spent his life running away from the terrifying thoughts which tormented him. This lifelong struggle with mental illness ultimately led him to a railway bridge and the brink of suicide. It was at that point that he met psychologist Lauren Callaghan and was finally able to get the help he needed.
Lauren taught Adam how to accept the obsessive thoughts he was having, embrace them and by doing so, control them. This technique proved to be effective, and Adam was at last able to work through his illness and reach recovery.
Inspired by Adam’s recovery, Lauren and Adam established The Shaw Mind Foundation to provide help and support to people with mental health issues. Lauren and Adam also devised the ‘Pulling the Trigger’ approach, or ‘PTT’, which evolved from the techniques Lauren has used so successfully with Adam, in which sufferers accept, embrace and control their condition.
The two have now teamed up for the tome, Pulling The Trigger: The Definitive Survival and Recovery Approach for OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depression.
The book shares the raw reality of obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic attacks and related depression from a sufferer’s point of view, as well as providing practical steps guiding sufferers toward recovery.
Here, Adam gives an insight into the book and his own personal struggles.
Daily Candid News: In the first part of the book, Adam’s story was followed by how this was tackled in therapy with Lauren. Why did you decide to use this format?
Adam: For me this was perhaps the easiest decision about the whole book as it felt the most natural thing to do. When deciding on the format of this book, I took myself back to those dark days when I was really poorly and asked myself what I wanted and needed to see in a book that was going to help me recover. In the midst of my mental health issues I wanted to be able to identify with other sufferers, I wanted to understand their journey, the challenges they faced, the impact it had on their everyday life and how they got better. However, a big part of me also craved the knowledge and commentary from a specialist who could explain why this was all happening and what needed to be done to address the issues around the sufferer. Therefore a journey through the eyes of the sufferer and their specialist doctor in the first part of a self- help book felt perfect to me and is a format which we all believe will help sufferers greatly as they go into part 2 of the book which is the recovery approach itself.
What I came to realize during my recovery is that mental health issues manifest, grow and thrive when you bottle them up and don’t share or talk about them. It simply gives the mental health issue more fuel and therefore we are giving it more power and so the vicious cycle spins even faster. For the majority of my life I kept my mental health issues a secret, I was embarrassed, ashamed and very scared which ultimately manifested into me becoming suicidal as I felt I had hit a dead end and there was no-where else to turn. My belief now is that as a society, we are all collectively responsible and accountable for mental health issues. By not engaging in conversation about it, we are giving mental illness more power than it deserves. By simply talking to, and being open with, our children, family, friends and colleagues, we can begin the process of recovery from mental health issues without even consciously trying. Talking about and sharing our mental health issues is a fundamental and natural platform, through which recovery begins and mental health well being is sustained. The book which bears all regarding my personal lifetime of mental illness is my way of carrying the flag in driving forward the ethos of being entirely open about our mental health, but just importantly to show how we can recover and life a life behind our illness.
From my personal point of view as an ex sufferer, the title was just an absolute perfect fit. Pulling the trigger promotes an innovative style of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a compassion focused approach. We believe this approach encourages sufferers to address and face the unwanted ‘trigger situations’, which can sometimes activate sufferers’ responses and intrusive thoughts (cognitive emotional, physiological and behavioral responses) in any given situation. It is a crucial element in sufferers addressing and recovering from their mental health issues.
Adam Shaw is a UK philanthropist. Now in recovery from debilitating OCD, he has established a global charity, The Shaw Mind Foundation, in order to help others suffering from mental health issues.
Lauren Callaghan (CPsychol, PGDipClinPsych, PgCert, MA (hons), LLB (hons), BA) is an industry-leading psychologist. Born and educated in New Zealand, she is now based in London. A psychologist at the specialist national treatment centers for severe obsessional problems in the UK, Lauren is recognized as an expert in diagnosing and successfully treating OCD and anxiety related illnesses. Her television appearances include Bedlam, the BAFTA award winning documentary in which she was the treating clinician. She is a frequent guest speaker about mental health conditions, both in the media and at academic conferences, which she combines with her role as a guest lecturer and honorary researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry Kings College, UCL.
Where to purchase the book
Pullingthetrigger®: The Definitive Survival and Recovery Approach for OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depression by Adam Shaw & Lauren Callaghan (Trigger Press Limited, 1st September 2016 $29.95, Audio Book: $34.95). The US Distributor is NBN.