With over eight million people in the UK afraid, it’s important to make sure they don’t take over our lives. Here we share how a change of perspective can help us stay one step ahead
Given the unexpected path to 2020, it is not surprising that fear is everywhere. The future of politics, the planet, and even our daily lives add to the discomfort of the country as a whole. But what if the fear of the modern world is compounded by a diagnosable anxiety disorder?
Generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, health anxiety, panic disorder – all of these are forms of fear-based mental health problems that can occur regardless of who feeds Larry the 10th cat. An Anxiety Disorder On Top Of Living In today’s troubled world, it is certainly not an easy ride.
According to the charity No Panic, anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness and in 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK – not an insignificant number.
The thing is, besides actually occurring an anxiety disorder, the stigma associated with it becomes even more complicated – whether it’s dismissive comments about “fear is a normal part of life” or feeling like you’re kind of “weak” or ” weak “for living with an anxiety disorder.
As someone who has personally experienced fear and panic for decades, I have found some ways to make peace with it. Here are four alternative ways of thinking about your fear:
1. Look at your fear through a different lens
I am an arachnophobic. When I was younger, a friend suggested that I imagine a spider gate wearing a disco dress on my night in front of the TV. It’s far less scary when you change your mind. We can do the same with fear. My therapist once suggested it was like a meerkat – always looking for danger. I may be scared of spiders, but meerkats are adorable – and they always look out for one another. So when I feel panic instead of being angry about my fear, I try to see it as a well-intentioned, if rather misguided, meerkat. The anger soon subsides.
2. Remember that you never go back to the first place
You’ve been panic free for 10 years and all of a sudden – bam – you’re up at 3 a.m. having the mother of all panic attacks (true story). You don’t need to feel like you’ve been catapulted back into the days of relentless fear and panic. Those early days were terrifying because you didn’t know what was going on. But over the years you’ve learned what fear is and how to calm your mind. You know a panic attack never killed you. You are already one step ahead. There is a difference between relapsing and relapsing – and either way doesn’t mean you’re suddenly back in first place.
3. Fear doesn’t scare you of everything
I remember being disappointed when told that my symptoms were more related to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) than health anxiety. I thought – does that mean I’ll be worried about everything then? I thought I was no longer neat or neat. But generalized doesn’t mean everything.
If fear ever tells you that you are weak, think about all the brilliant things you have accomplished, the times when you stood up for yourself
We are rarely afraid of what we can see right in front of us. It’s the unknown – the “what if?” – that scares us. If the fear showed its face and screamed like a banshee, we’d probably tell her where to go. We’re not weak and weak – we just don’t like things creeping in behind us when we aren’t expecting them. If fear ever tells you that you are weak, think of all the brilliant things you have achieved, the times when you stood up for yourself or did something that others might think was brave. Make a list – you will likely run out of paper.
4. Fear is something we live with; it doesn’t define us
Some of the most confident and gorgeous people I know are experienced mental health activists. Take author and activist Natasha Devon’s unwavering approach to addressing mental health injustices. Natasha lives with fear, which can be debilitating at times. But she has also stood her ground with the likes of Piers Morgan, speaking in Parliament, dealing with trolls and telling them with humor where to go. Natasha and so many others like her like us are amazing.
So we can probably forget about the “well concerned” and the shame that goes with it. 2020 is all about the “incredibly fearful” ones. The great part is us while the fearful part is the annoying part that we sometimes live with and have to manage. Whether it’s a meerkat, a spider, or a cute little mogwai who occasionally turns into a terrifying gremlin, you handle it as best you can. And that is certainly not an easy task.
To the incredibly fearful!
For more information on anxiety, see the counseling directory.