Mark Antczak is a staff member at Anxiety Canada. As Anxiety Canada’s summer Community Engagement Contributor, I was lucky enough to interview Mark and about his personal experience with anxiety and why the work Anxiety Canada does is important to him.
By Justine Harris-Owen.
Can you summarize your role at Anxiety Canada?
Mark Antczak: My formal title is Registered Clinical Counsellor and Clinical Educator. I facilitate the MindShift CBT program and help make sure that everything our organization puts out is congruent with the current research on anxiety treatment.
That often involves consulting on articles to make sure the content is empirically validated and accurate, as well as facilitating workshops and learning sessions on how to manage anxiety for many different organizations.
Before joining Anxiety Canada, was anxiety awareness something you advocated for?
MA: Yes! During university, I was part of my school’s mental health awareness club where I primarily did events related to anxiety awareness and anxiety management. I also try to lobby our government when I have the time to improve accessibility to mental health services.
Pictured: Mark with his dog, Maslow.
What drew you to working at Anxiety Canada?
MA: I knew about Anxiety Canada, formally known as Anxiety BC, for a long time. I really loved that Anxiety Canada stood for making resources more accessible and helping people feel less alone in their anxiety.
At the start of the pandemic, Judith reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in being Anxiety Canada’s first in-house Registered Clinical Counsellor, and I said yes!
Why is raising awareness for anxiety important to you?
MA: So many reasons. Anxiety is something that everyone experiences at some point in their life. There is such an extensive range of how people experience anxiety and how much it impacts their quality of life. Shame is a huge obstacle to overcome and ask for help.
“Once I realized my body had its own mechanisms to get me through bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, they started happening a lot less frequently because I no longer feared them.”
– Mark Antczak
Could you share a little bit about your experience with anxiety?
MA: I’ve had anxiety most of my life. As a kid, I had no idea what it was. When I went to university in a new province, I left behind my entire support system. Combining that with being in a difficult program, it all became very overwhelming. By the end of first year, I started having panic attacks and was later diagnosed with panic disorder.
Once I was more aware of what I was facing, I realized that fighting it only made it worse. When we talk about what anxiety is, the bulk of it is around trying to get certainty in a place where we can’t have it. Acceptance was a big thing for me. By trying to gain control, I was just causing myself more pain.
Once I realized my body had its own mechanisms to get me through bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, they started happening a lot less frequently because I no longer feared them.
Learn more about Mark’s anxiety story and his involvement in the MindShift program in our podcast episode, Anxiety From a Clinical Lens with Mark Antczak.
Hear more mental health interviews by listening to all the other episodes of #OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast, hosted by John Bateman (made in partnership with HeretoHelp, a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information). Listen and learn about anxiety, panic disorders, OCD, and much more.
Interested in learning more about the MindShift program? Check out our free, award-winning anxiety relief app, MindShift CBT, or learn more about MindShift CBT Groups, oan 8-week online group therapy program for adults (19+).
Read the next blog post in the series on Lisa, our Office Manager.