Mark’s Journey to a Calm Mind and Gratitude

Meditation is a daily tool in Mark Taylor’s kit to manage his Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). He never imagined himself meditating, but after taking the Mind Over Mood program he now intentionally takes time to focus on his breathing every day. 

“I needed it. The program made me calm down, breathe, look at the simple things in life and appreciate them. Be more grateful.”

Mark was diagnosed with GAD twenty years ago. For years he was able to manage his symptoms with medication. However, that changed in 2020. Mark began experiencing heightened anxiety while navigating a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. “For someone with anxiety, going through a pandemic was not a fun and easy thing,” Mark recalls. “I watched the news too much, which was very negative. I was really in a dark, dark place.” Mark’s experience was universal – in fact, the World Health Organization found that global rates of anxiety and depression increased 25% in the first year of the pandemic.

He noticed his anxiety was increasing as the year unfolded, and he wanted to feel better. He was tired of feeling “flat and numb”. Amidst the bright chaos of the holiday season, he approached his doctor for a medication change to hopefully start feeling things again. Unfortunately, his doctor retired not long after his appointment.

Thankfully he was referred to a Nurse Practitioner (NP) with Thames Valley Family Health Team (TVFHT). “That was a life-saving rope right there.”

Mark worked with his NP to adjust his medication and his overall treatment plan for anxiety. “She asked if I would be open to some form of therapy. The way I felt at the time, absolutely. Years ago, I would have thought ‘no, therapy isn’t for me. I just need some simple medication’. Now that I was at the bottom, I’d try anything.”

He was placed on a waitlist for the Mind Over Mood program. This 8-week program focuses on a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach to treating anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, and stress. It helps participants learn how thinking differently can affect your feelings, and ultimately your mood, for the better.

This changed everything for Mark.

“This saved me. I really felt a transformation. I felt an awakening. It got to the root of why I was feeling the way I was feeling, and not to be ashamed of how I was feeling.”

And while Mark wishes he could have accessed a program like this ten or fifteen years ago, he’s grateful to the team who helped him build the skills he can use daily to help prevent him from going back to a dark place.

“I love the idea of the team. The team gives you an idea. A comfort level, a security, almost like a blanket. It kind of wraps around you knowing that you’ve got this team looking out for you. I can’t thank them enough.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety and is a patient of TVFHT, speak to your healthcare professional about options that are available like group programming.

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