Vinny Guadagnino from Jersey Shore, Reality TV's Hottest Celeb, has General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and his new book, Control the Crazy, gives his proven, step-by-step program for calming your anxious mind.
He is not just another fist-pump guido; he's a true renaissance man of the modern era. He's an artist who draws and paints. The tattoo on his chest reads: Let Go, Let God. He practices yoga.
As May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, I'm devoting this first SharePost to his book because throughout the years here at our schizophrenia community, I've written about how anxiety is one of the worst symptoms, and that those of us diagnosed with SZ get everything: depression, anxiety and with schizoaffective, sometimes mania.
I'll link at the end of this article to my earlier SharePost, "Recovery Cafe," that talks about anxiety, as well as give links to my cognitive therapy posts. Anxiety, GAD and OCD are mental illnesses that don't always require medication. Indeed, cognitive therapy is often thought to be the gold standard for treating these kinds of symptoms.
In Control the Crazy, Vinny details cognitive behavior therapy techniques that are simple and with practice, easy to use. He first details the trajectory of his GAD, and then breaks the book down intro his three-pronged approach: mind, body and spirit.
Vinny tells us we absolutely have the power to control our crazy-making thoughts, which if unchecked, lead to overwhelming feelings that result in worry or another negative behavior. Our automatic thoughts come from the ego. He tells us to name our ego, to put this critical narrator in its place.
Will I call my ego "chatterbox?" I'm grateful I had the insight to obtain cognitive behavioral therapy in 2007. My therapist told me the same thing Vinny tells everyone now: to observe our thoughts, not judge them, because they come from our ego, and our ego is not our True Self, our True Self is light and free.
My CBT sessions cost $1,000. You can get Vinny's version of CBT for the price of a $20 hardcover book. The one single useful approach he gives us, the best advice among his rock-solid techniques, is to name your ego, and not feed your ego.
Recognize a negative thought when it comes on and replace it by focusing on "right here, right now," or the present moment as Eckhart Tolle and all the other pop shrinks before Vinny told us to do. Focusing on what's going on around you right where you are takes effort when you're used to obsessing about the past or worrying about the future: two things that aren't real. Only the present moment is real.
At the end of Season 5 of Jersey Shore, Vinny broke down and told his roommates, on camera, that he has GAD-that underneath his cool, rational demeanor he has dark thoughts and feelings that threaten to overtake him.
Vinny lists "mental workouts" you can do to control the crazy. On pages 191-192, Planting the Seed tells you to look in a mirror and tell yourself positive things about yourself, even if you don't believe them. You'll switch the focus, so that it continues to be an automatic reprogramming that shifts you to think positively.
Vinny Guadagnino impresses me to no end, and I'll tell you the secret why. We share things in common: we're Italian, and we both graduated with honors from the College of Staten Island, a CUNY school. I looked at my degree tonight to remind myself of this feat.
His courage and confidence in speaking out about his anxiety, along with his public service speaking out for anti-bullying organizations and other organizations devoted to instilling hope for young people caught in the web of their feelings, is in the end what impresses me the most.
I grew up on the same Island he did. I was a lonely, shy teenager. The other teens would go dancing on Saturday nights at the Park Villa. I stayed in my bedroom with my ears tuned to college radio. As a young person, I became a disc jockey on the FM radio.
So I understand how Vinny could feel all alone in what he went through until he risked getting help and a social worker told him what he was going through was actually common.
He deserves whatever accolades he'll get from writing his book.
And surprise, surprise: one of his biggest ways to control the crazy is to devote yourself to public service, to act selfless to help others so that you focus on your self less and distract yourself from your problems by helping others heal.
Vinnie makes no bones about it: life is hard. Yet like numerous others he believes God gives us only what we can carry, and that there is a purpose in what we go through.
Control the Crazy? Yes you can.
I'd love to hear your comments on this topic.
Published On: May 02, 2012