Josh from Australia who attended The Anxiety Recovery Retreat at The Elms at the end of 2013 gave us this testimonial about his experience with finding the right anxiety retreat.
Josh says ...
So, was my 20,000 mile round trip worth it?
I travelled to delightful Worcestershire from Sydney Australia in September 2013. My first visit to the UK. I will never forget the day I arrived. The sun shone down like a beacon on The Elms. It was like something from a picture postcard of a typical England scene from years gone by (I did question if I'd arrived on the set of 'Downton Abbey' .. haha J my mother is a huge fan!) The instant I opened the door, I knew I had arrived at the right place. Beth and Rob (talk about him later) were there with a warm welcome and in Beth's case, a huge hug :-)
I was rather surprised to discover that I wasn't the only international client as a lady arrived shortly after me from South Africa and then a couple from Canada. When asked by a client from London, how I had managed to travel so far when I had anxiety, my answer was simple. Because I had been left with no choice. I had tried to get Charles to come and see me but that was a no-go!! I knew that if I wanted to be well then I had to get to The Linden Retreat.
Charles Linden and his Method was the only thing that had worked for me in the 9 years that I have suffered from this chronically debilitating condition and he is the only man who has ever truly 'spoken to me' through The Linden Method home learning program. This man understood what it was like to suffer like I did. I tried to follow the home learning programme but I am the sort of person who is very visual (and impatient) and I had trouble concentrating and applying myself to it. For almost ten years I had suffered... and I didn't want to arrive at my ten year anniversary and still be in that hole that had become considerably more confined as time had passed. 9 and a half years of pointless, wasted life that I should have been LIVING instead of being locked in a prison in my head. Reading Charles’ story in the program was enough to
I was desperate and was about to lose the support of my family who had literally spent thousands in trying to find me the help that would finally free me. I used to believe that anxiety was a mental illness until I found TLM and had been told repeatedly that it was something I had to learn to manage. (I had been on a cocktail of prescription medication for many years)
So here I was, at The Retreat in sunny, rural, beautiful England. It all felt kind of surreal (maybe the jetlag was setting in!). As the next hour passed, the other new, anxious arrivals started to trickle in. I remember thinking that I must have been the worst case there as everyone looked so.... well, so normal!
Don't Hide From Anxiety - Treat It In An Anxiety Retreat
I was assured by Beth, however, that she is often asked that question and that I too looked 'normal' from the outside because anxiety sufferers had learnt to become great actors... pretending on the outside that everything was just fine whilst inside they were in turmoil. This was certainly true of me. My father had come along for the trip - after all, he'd been on every leg of my journey so far and he too was hopeful - having spent a lot of time on the telephone to the team at the Linden Center - he was hoping that this was the 'final trip' he would HAVE TO accompany me on. He too was looking for some help and guidance (which he later got in abundance!).
Although I'd travelled 10,000 miles to get there, the team made no more fuss of me than anyone else. Hugs were handed out to those that needed them and the introductory talk by Beth and Rob put everyone at their ease (as much as could be expected). Non of us were going to have to introduce ourselves (we were all given name badges). What struck me was that I couldn't work out which were the clients and which were the loved ones... I suppose Beth was right.. we were all great actors! We were told by Beth that no-one had to talk and we were told that if you wanted to get up and leave the room at any time then this was fine too. That was a huge relief to me - on arrival on the reception room, I sat by the exit (a habit of mine) just in case I had to make a quick getaway. I needn't have - just by Beth telling me that I was free to leave at any time was enough to allow my panic to subside and I never once had to leave any sessions - except to use the bathroom!
After introductions, we were taken to another room with Rob Holcroft . Later in the week, Rob was awarded the nickname' the Omnipresent Rob' because he appeared just at the right time whenever he was needed!
What Happens In An Anxiety Retreat?
After some great postural and breathing coaching from Rob, the group seemed much more relaxed and started to chat. The evening was fairly quiet. After a scrumptious dinner I fell into my (very comfy) bed. Day 2 and we were met at breakfast by Jenny Brookes. I instantly liked her because she was warm, friendly and not condescending in anyway...(unlike many other psychologists I had visited over the years!). In fact she was quite the opposite. There was much laughter - Jenny managed to keep us entertained with her re-enactments, anecdotes and amusing stories of her anxiety habits. (She too, as all of the Linden Method team, is a previous anxiety sufferer).
The group bonded surprisingly quickly and by the afternoon of day two we were like old friends. We shared many laughs (and a few tears)- most unexpected (don't remember the last time I belly laughed in such a long time). I was the vocal one and I noticed that Jenny was excellent at 'working the room' and ensuring that everyone who wanted to speak throughout the sessions - had their chance and that others (like me) who spoke too much (can't you tell!) had to be encouraged to allow others to come forward. (Point taken, Jenny and I am now a much better listener!).
This dynamic worked so well because those who weren't so comfortable asking questions later said that the others had asked for them and they didn't have the need. I cannot express how incredible the 'sharing' experience was for me. I had always felt so isolated and so alone. Suddenly I am in a room of like-minded people who tototally 'got me'.
Charles Linden arrived on Wednesday afternoon and my group of 5 were very much looking forward to his afternoon session. Some were apprehensive about meeting 'the man'. I was just plain excited – having read Charles’ story, I felt like we were connected already. Finally, someone that understood exactly how how felt and could relate to what I was going through because he too had been there (and some!) I found myself looking at Charles thinking, wow, this guy was worse than me... (he has such a great aura). Will I ever be this calm… this composed? Charles talked with such knowledge about anxiety and answered every question thoroughly and even shared some very personal stuff concerning his years with anxiety.
Why Do An Anxiety Retreat Workshop?
It became apparent that my group were really 'getting it' - especially after our session with Charles. I wrote down something he said to someone who asked "why is your method going to work Charles when everything else has failed'. Charles replied.... I too tried all those things and if any of them had worked, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you right now. I’m not asking you to believe that it works. You’re here right, so all I would ask you to suspend your disbelief and just do it ... its then that the belief will follow" This really resonated with me.
I knew I had the best chance now and I new that I had arrived at the one place that could finally help me to overcome the hell that I had been going through. One thing that we were all told by Charles that we all had one thing in common..... 'Creative Intellect'. This was a lightbulb moment for many who were new to The Linden Method. It was obvious that Charles theory was right. The people I shared that room with definitely had creative intelligence in abundance! I won’t discuss their professions (a few had stopped working due to their anxiety) but suffice to say – they were all pretty creative.
So, the week progressed and so as each session was completed there was a sense of 'Wow, this really could work!" "This really is the answer" My fellow sufferers were starting to engage in the act of living... they were coming back to life (don't mean to sound dramatic but that I really did witness this in front of my own eyes!). I too felt profoundly different at the end of day 3. I had a eureka moment and when I talked to my father that evening, he broke down in tears and held me like never before. He later told me that for the first time in 9 years he felt there was hope. Finally.
The final evening was awesome. There was entertainment in the form of the brilliant Kevin (what a voice) who entertained us with some amazing vocals and wonderful acoustic guitar playing. I looked around the room and saw only relaxed, happy people enjoying a night out. Who would have thought that these same people who arrived only two days earlier were the same people! Charles and Beth joined us but there was no talk or mention of the 'A' word all night! After all, our journey had already started.
One client even got up to sing with Kevin and another did some Michael Jackson moon walking!!!! (Don’t worry if you’re reading this and are worried that you wil be expected to do this too… its not obligatory or part of the course!) It was an awesome sight and I feel privilidged to have been part of it. Two previous Retreat guests joined us – mother and son. I thought this was a great because it meant that we got to talk to real people who had been to a Retreat and had since gone on to become totally free from their anxiety. A young(ish) guy like me and his mom. They couldn’t say enough good stuff about how life changing it had been – for them both actually.
The last day was emotional. There were tears - mostly of joy though.. the only sadness was that we were leaving after experiencing four days that none of us would ever forget. I remember talking to Jo before booking onto the Retreat and she told me that I could expect to feel less fearful, empowered and fully aware of what I needed to do to make a full recovery. She couldn't have been more right but I would like to add that I was like a child that had got the candy.... I was so excited that I would be travelling home with good news for my mother. The news that she had hoped for. That attending this Retreat was all I had hoped for and more.
I had to accept the reality that I would probably never see my fellow retreaters again (except on the secret facebook page, ssshh!) but I gained comfort from knowing that we would be forever connected by an 'invisible thread' and this gave me comfort. I am 34 years old and never before in my life have I experienced such a strong feeling of belonging. We were all there for the same reason and the age differences didn't matter, in fact it just enhanced the whole experience for me. The youngest attendee was 19 and the oldest was 75!
Anxiety Free From This Anxiety Retreat
So, six weeks after leaving The Retreat. I am anxiety free - no panic attacks, no disturbing thoughts and no OCD behaviours. I am working and am finally living my life. I can't thank you enough Charles. I am sorry you had to suffer for 27 years and am so grateful that I got to shake the hand of the man who has been responsible for changing so many lives. I witnessed the transformations of my fellow retreaters before my very eyes... before attending I wouldn't have believed it.
Now, If you are reading this as a sufferer or as a loved one of someone who is suffering... I would urge you to pick up the telephone today. You know if you are reading this and thinking... 'now will this work for me?' or 'is this a con' or 'Why hasn't anyone told me about this before'... then, listen to my truth. Firstly, if you think you are a Retreat client then I truly believe that you ARE a Retreat client.
Secondly, if you are questionning whether this is a con, remember that Charles has professional people with profesional qualifications working in his team - would they put their name to something that didn't work. Jenny has been working with TLM for 9 years! If you are worried it won't work for you then understand that it will work for you providing you work for it! As we all know, there is no magic pill... (if only, huh?!) However, the good news is that the illusive magic solution is TLM and if you are fortunate enough to attend a residential program, you will be left in no uncertainty as to what you need to do to make a full recovery.
My fellow sufferers on this Retreat were all of like minds. We were all sick and tired of NOT living our lives. We had all tried every conceivable treatment (and most of us had been prescribed medication)... one thing we all had in common apart from the obvious, was the determination to reclaim our lives. This is not a magic, quick fix, but it certainly is the solution and if you are prepared to listen and act, then you will get there and you will be the person you've always wanted to be... of that I am now sure.
So, in answer to my original question, YES, absolutely every single metre of the 20,000 miles covered was worth it!
Here's wishing you a shorter journey to the start of your recovery.
Now make today a good day!