Anxiety – That feeling of ‘What if’ – that constant worry about what might happen.
What if – I apply for a new job and I can’t do it,
‘What if’ – I was to go to the cinema with a friend and I can’t sit on the end of the row.
Anxiety has been around since the beginning of time. And anxiety can affect us all in different ways. At its best, anxiety is an important part of keeping us safe. The fight or flight response that saves us from danger or the threat of danger. But, just as being anxious can be really useful when in truly dangerous situations, it can also be destructive when it takes hold and we can start to imagine that many situations and circumstance are dangerous. This is when it becomes a problem.
We can end up being hyper-vigilant in all sorts of situations, looking for danger that may not be there. One of my clients told me, Open spaces were a scary prospect and, if I did have to walk through a park, to keep up with my friends, I’d mentally keep track of all the dense bushes I could hide behind – just in case. But I had to do this without anyone knowing how I was feeling.
We can become exhausted by all this mental activity, this hyper activity to keep us safe. Fearful of the next person to walk past, fearful about who is behind. On edge all the time, but sometimes unsure why. Often afraid to try something new, so missing out on opportunities that friends seem to accept without a second thought.
Other people sometimes don’t understand what it is like to live with anxiety. If they even know that a friend is living with anxiety. We get really good at hiding the fact, but sometimes this stops us from doing what we want to do, not going to that concert because the crowds are too big, not booking a holiday with friends because it involves getting on a plane, not to mention the crowds at the airport. We hide the anxiety because we feel that we should be able to cope. But there are a number of misconceptions about anxiety. Here are three big ones!
People who have anxiety are weak.
This is one of the most incorrect statements about anxiety sufferers. People dealing with these feelings have to be so strong everyday just to get through the day. They face their demons on a daily basis, and some of us will never know what those demons are. Sometimes getting their feet out from under the duvet and onto the floor every morning is too much, as this means they have to face another day hiding those anxious feelings. If anxiety is impacting on your life, it requires great strength, not only to get by day to day but also to admit it to even your closest friends and to seek out help.
Not many people have ever experienced anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are very common. Every seven years a survey in carried out and the Mind website reports that approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. These figures suggest that more people than you realise will experience anxiety in some form during their life. Anxiety sufferers are not alone even though it can feel like that at times.
People living with anxiety will never get better.
It can sometimes feel like this is it, there is no escape from these feelings. With proper treatment, people living with anxiety can learn to retrain the brain. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes it doesn’t – each person is unique and needs to be treated as such. It’s so important to redress the myths about anxiety, to end the stigma. No one should suffer with anxiety when there are multiple, effective treatments available. People need to be given choices, and to try different therapies that are available. Just because one type of therapy doesn’t work for one person, doesn’t mean that no therapy will work for them. There are so many choices out there, so many people who are there to help. People living with anxiety can get better.
There are people out there who can help.
Here’s my e mail and phone number if you would like to know more. I’m always happy to have a chat.
Change is possible today