Today in 1903, the birthday of Dr. Claire Weekes, who helped the world understand that sometimes the way to stop anxiety in its tracks… is, in a way, to stop trying to stop it.
Weekes grew up in Australia.
She studied zoology and evolutionary science, and became the first woman to earn a doctorate in science at the University of Sydney.
But Weekes was struggling as much as she was succeeding.
She was suffering from infections, losing weight and even having heart palpitations.
A doctor concluded she had tuberculosis and sent her off to a sanitarium.
Six months later, she was released, because she didn’t have TB, but she felt worse than when she’d gone in.
She worried a lot.
She returned to her studies but she didn’t have the confidence in herself she once had.
Weekes was studying in the UK when a friend came to visit, and she told him all about the troubles she just couldn’t shake no matter how hard she tried.
He suggested, maybe you’re actually trying too hard.
The friend had fought in World War I and said a lot of his fellow soldiers had the same symptoms Weekes did.
They had been in terrifying situations, their bodies had reacted, and then they were afraid even further because of those strong physical reactions.
What he suggested was, instead of trying to push the feelings down, Let them happen, and know that they will pass.
And when she did, Weekes started to feel better.
In fact, the lesson she’d learned from her friend prompted her to train as a medical doctor, with a particular interest in the nervous system.
She started working with patients who had struggled with the same symptoms she had, teaching them a response that she boiled down to six words: face, accept, float, let time pass.
She wrote a series of best selling books advising people not to push back against the nervous reaction, and not to try to run away from it, but to face it.
Some doctors at the time dismissed Weekes’ work as “advice from Grandma,” but in time scientific understanding of fear and nerves caught up with her teachings.
And that work proved Claire Weekes right.
It’s National Pet Day.
Recently a person who works for a pet insurance company shared on social media some of the names of the animals they’d covered, everything from McRib to Mr. Ugly to Taco Steve.
She said a cat they covered was known for its incredibly sensitive stomach.
It was named Barfy McYackerson.
Face, accept, float, let time pass: Claire Weekes’ anxiety cure holds true decades on (The Sydney Morning Herald)