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Welcome to the Wagtank!

My name is Shannon Gambill, but most of my friends just call me Gambill. And over the past 20+ years I’ve had the pleasure of working with many moms, dads, children and caregivers who have been challenged with various elements of mental health… anxiety, depression, intense anger, trauma, and then some. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker but that’s just a formal description. More simply I am a human being, someone being a human, as we all are. And although we have many unique life experiences, we all share something in common… a brain. Oh yes, a brain that moves us through the day in a very complex yet seemingly simple fashion. It can be our best friend and our biggest adversary at the same time, but oftentimes we don’t even know it. Yeesh! Stop the madness right?! But I can’t… even though part of me would really like to, the more curious and incredibly intrigued part of me says, “Go down that path, Gambill, and see what you can find.”

So I did, but it wasn’t just a brain journey it was a whole body journey. And it all started with anxiety… after my face slapped me in my face. What?! Is that even possible? Oh Yeah, it’s possible. And It wasn’t pretty. A cavalcade of red rashes, scaling, cracking, and bleeding creeped over my face and scalp. Hello psoriasis! And not the normal everyday elbow psoriasis that you can easily conceal with a shirt…oh no, no, no… my face wanted to send me a very clear message that I was going to have to change and it was going to have to happen NOW! It even hurt to blink sometimes… but it wasn’t my face that protested my anxious habits. My face was just the messenger. The origin of protest came from other health systems that demanded I address my anxiety or pay the price! People even asked if I was contagious.

We are all are functioning on subconscious, habit-thinking programs at least 95% of the time, right now, as adults… that were installed in us as small children when we weren’t capable of editing them or putting them into any type of context.

The anxiety I experienced also led to other health system issues such as adrenal challenges… which caused me to struggle to have enough energy to get out of bed or walk up the stairs. Now the anxiety was building more anxiety because I came to a point where I didn’t even know if I would be able to continue working. It was a big wake-up call, but it was also quite confusing because this anxiety was sneaky. It was hidden under a blanket of workaholic perfectionism, the “Type A,” driven personality that society applauds, many people value, and the business world praises. So, while I spent 18-hour days working in arenas I loved, my mind and body were experiencing the effects of unhealthy feelings…. feelings driven by thoughts that I could never accomplish as much as I wanted to (or at the level I needed to) in order to satisfy myself. “Why was this the case?” you might ask. Well, for the same reason it is for almost everyone on the planet… some construct of inadequacy that originated from early childhood as a result of our brain doing what it was meant to do… keep us safe and survive. Survive, yes. Thrive, no!

Long story long, I actually didn’t recognize the perfectionistic, workaholic anxiety for what it was when psoriasis slapped me in the face. Instead, I just originally assumed “Oh, I have a skin condition.” Well, that was waaay off base. Yes, I had a symptom (psoriasis) but the origin of the skin issue was literally more than skin deep. It was brain deep. And as much as I would have told you back then that I wish I had known this right off the bat, it actually served me better that I didn’t. Why??? Because it directed me down a path of wellness I needed to go. You see… as a workaholic, I ate poorly, slept 4 hours a day, and didn’t carve out much time for a social life.

So down the path of holistic mental and physical wellness I went.  And, as they say in the Olympics, “Let the games begin!” And it’s been a long, empowering and fulfilling game… one that continues to this day. This game with many pieces… has allowed me to experience cause and effect as well as cause and correlation. The body is incredibly intricate, and yet, there are some very basic functions and mechanisms that we can tap into to navigate our nervous system. I’m not saying this is easy, but once you get in the groove and teach your brain and body to embrace new processes, you get to become the conductor of your brain. A symphony of neural pathways then has the opportunity to play new music… and it’s a beautiful experience. However, this repertoire is unbeknownst to most people… so the possibilities of mental wellness can elude them. The good news is that every human being harbors the innate potential to cue the music and start playing.

As part of my journey, I explored (and continue to explore) connections between the mind, gut, nervous system, autoimmune system, and so much more. I engaged in biohacking… which is a form of self-experimentation, and I immersed myself in research, and knew I had to come up with alternatives to taking medication for anxiety… due to the laundry list of potential side effects… and I had to come up with alternatives to taking steroids for the psoriasis which was fed by the anxiety.

My process of trial and error over the years has included triggering psoriasis on my face through anxious thoughts and experiences… then implementing tools, techniques, routines, and lifestyle changes that addressed the emotional and physical elements of the anxiety.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I had the bizarre fortunate luxury of seeing the anxiety play out directly on my face due to the psoriasis… and this gave me an unusual opportunity to gauge the benefits of different techniques I tried… and then provide time-frames for this.

I then combined my biohacking efforts with my vast amount of research regarding biochemistry, psychology, and neuroplasticity (which is the brain’s ability to change throughout life). I also researched epigenetics which is the study of how our environment and behavior can influence which of our genes are turned on or off… what we eat, how or if we move, what we think and feel… these all influence which of our genes are turned on and off.

Epigenetics has been one of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine. Most people tend to attribute far too much power to their genes, but it’s actually your lifestyle impacting your genes that maps your health outcomes. So, when I put all my research and biohacking efforts together, I made some amazing connections and confirmations in how all this related to anxiety. Not the least of which is that

We are all are functioning on subconscious, habit-thinking programs at least 95% of the time, right now, as adults… that were installed in us as small children when we weren’t capable of editing them or putting them into any type of context.

These programs went straight into our brains, and we have repeated them thousands and thousands of times since we were children… believing them and living by them. Because of this, we basically have the brain of a 5-year-old. We are believing and repeating messages that were ingrained in us that far back and even further. Since the brain lives by these messages of anxiety… as it’s left to it’s own devices 95% of the time (or more)… I took my years of research and trial and error and created the Wagtank… a “think-tank” of sorts for Wellness, Action, and Growth. The Wagtank offers wellness content via a blog, videos, and courses. Live online events for adult and child audiences will be coming soon, and plans are in place to provide live in-person Wagtank events upon social distancing protocols allowing for this.

Wag Your Brain™ & Come Along For The Ride!