Published February 20, 2012
Anyone with a child under the age of 10 surely knows The Wiggles.
The Australian quartet, which is made up of Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt, is akin to The Beatles in the world of children’s music. With their catchy songs (we defy anyone not to hum ‘Hot Potato’ after hearing it), distinctive costumes and upbeat messages they have sold millions of CDs, DVDs and performed sold out concerts all over the world.
In How I Got My Wiggle Back: A Memoir of Healing, Anthony Field, the “blue wiggle” tells his inspiring story of how he overcame monumental health issues to get his life and sanity back.
The book also includes a self-care health program, lots of exercise and diet advice that people can follow to relieve their pain and heal illness. It’s an inspiring and deeply honest book that follows one Wiggle’s redemption.
Q: What ailments were you suffering from?
A: I had terrible back pain, chronic pain, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and terrible infections in my teeth, basically I have about 10 original teeth, and the rest are titanium. I was overweight, and I also suffered from depression.
Q: When did it all start?
A: I got out of the army when I was 23, so for about 10 years I was sinking down into what I actually thought was normal aging. I was in my mid 30s, but biologically I was probably in my mid 60s. I felt terrible, no get up and go. I’d lie in bed, eat a whole lot of junk food, and watch TV when I had the time off – as opposed to now when I can’t wait to get out on a bicycle and exercise and get the endorphins going. I couldn’t before because I was in so much pain, I was just not motivated.
Q: Did you ever consider suicide?
A: I have a psychological bent towards depression and self-loathing. A couple of times I got really close to it. When you think about people committing suicide you think, ‘Oh they must have been in a terrible state, but actually at the times I was thinking about it. I was thinking, ‘Oh this is good, I’m going to get out of this hole that I’m in.’ I was actually feeling like it was a really good idea.
Q: Don’t you think it’s ironic that while you were feeling this way you were part of a beloved children’s group?
A: I’ve got to say on stage and doing a show I was never miserable. I always enjoyed being on stage, but I was in a lot of pain. I’d go backstage whenever I got the chance and just lie down. Ask any of the other guys, it was a regular occurrence. They’d look behind and there I’d be on the ground with my back or before the show I’d be in my dressing room and I’d break down. They just didn’t understand what was going on; I didn’t understand what was going on, to be honest. When we toured England, I took photos to reflect my moods. I’ve still got them, its photos of clouds and rain.
Q: What was the first step in getting better?
A: In the ‘80s, my father recommended I go see a professional psychologist; a fantastic woman in Sydney that I still see actually. He came to me and said, ‘I can’t help you with this,’ and it was really good that he came up and said that.
The first step of getting out of physical pain was Dr. (James) Stoxen in Chicago, a chiropractor who released me from back pain . . . and he started me on a path of looking at real natural cures. I was in so much pain all the time, and I was taking so much Advil and Nyquil to help me sleep, over-the-counter drugs, which don’t help your health at all. They kill your digestive system and slow you down. But he was saying there’s a way out of all this pain and quite incredibly it starts with your footwear and your feet. Then he gave me exercises to do off the ground, anti-gravity exercises. I could hardly do anything in the beginning.
And then I met another chiropractor in Santa Clara, Dr. (Richard) Gringeri, and he talked to me about how the processed food I was eating was staying in my body and encouraging sickness to develop. So then I became more of a natural eater. I got off all the painkillers. I feel so much better and am able to do so many more things on stage.
I’ve stopped drinking and my depression is much better. I’m on Zoloft; I’m not ashamed to say that. I lead a really good life. I don’t think about topping myself at all. (English expression for killing yourself).
Q: What is Dr. Stoxen’s theory?
A: It starts with the shoes. We’re binding our feet and that causes us to stop using the muscles in our feet. If you’re even a little bit overweight, it’ll put a lot of stress on your knees and hips, and that’s when inflammation starts. Inflammation brings pain and it also brings infections. So he got me strong from my feet up. My body started getting stronger, my diet changed and I felt so much better. One of the best things about physical exercise is the endorphins it creates to make you feel better - a natural high.