Four types of anxiety and how to cure them – What a load of bollocks!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29835995

Having read the above linked article, I was left feeling angry and let down, yet again, by the media. Ignorant people should not be allowed to write articles or talk on the radio about things that they have clearly not understood or experienced.  While this writer does describe somewhat effective methods for reducing normal anxiety, these methods are by no means a cure and will not prevent these anxieties from occurring.

The title itself is what I feel is most damaging to read. Anyone scrolling through the BBC website will have read it and it will have implanted in their subconscious. Headlines like this are really dangerous and offensive to those of us who suffer from anxiety disorders. The anxiety we suffer is not normal level and cannot just be ignored or, as suggested in the article, thought of in terms of odds or just accepted. The anxiety we experience is so intense and complex that it takes over our lives and stops us from doing anything related to the thing/s we fear. The idea that we can just think ourselves out of it or just stop worrying when we choose is absolutely ludicrous! It’s a disorder not a lifestyle choice! I don’t put on my anxiety disorder in the morning like I would a favourite dress and then wear it out for the day and then not wear it for a few weeks. Having an anxiety disorder is like having your mind hijacked. You’re forced to think things that you’ve never thought before. You worry about things that are ridiculous and make no sense and yet there’s no escape from them, no relief, and nothing you do stops the impending feeling of doom or the panic rising up inside you.

I graduated from my Psychology degree just over a year ago and to the best of my knowledge there is no known “cure” for anxiety. There are medications that can lessen it and talking therapies (if you’re lucky enough to be given it on the NHS or rich enough to self-fund), but I have been advised by my psychiatrist that it takes a great deal of time, effort and seemingly luck for the person with the disorder to recover back to full functioning. Articles like this just belittle my experiences and those of every other anxiety disorder sufferer. If it were as easy as he implies then surely psychiatrists would be redundant, there would be no anxiety disorders named because none would exist and we’d all just look at life in terms of odds in a card game or we’d learn to just switch off the news.

I’m a needle phobic and am so severe that when working in a psychiatric hospital as a nursing assistant I couldn’t go down to the far end of one of our store cupboards because that’s where the hypodermics were kept. While I know that the pain and suffering I would go through with any of the diseases we’re immunised against would be horrendous, the idea of having an injection leaves me plagued with thoughts that I won’t cope for weeks leading up to the appointment and leaves me unable to sleep or dreaming about it for the few nights before the injection. Despite being 23 I cry every time and have panic attacks if I have to have a blood test. I literally have to panic out all of the anxiety so that I’m left with so little energy that I can’t be as anxious anymore and then I’m able to keep my arm still enough for them to steal my blood and I cry and panic and fuss throughout that part too. Afterwards I’m left feeling utterly stupid and embarrassed wondering why I made such a fuss because yes it hurt a bit but it really wasn’t that bad and yet I still go through the same process each and every time. That’s how phobias and other anxiety disorders work – just knowing something isn’t threatening or dangerous isn’t enough to stop you feeling very intensely that your life is somehow at stake.

His blanket statements that medication works at treating “free-floating anxiety”, it can be accepted and you can learn to use it are lovely but they’re not true. He suggests that it’s better to be driven by these anxieties than be forever drugged, a huge judgement on those who are reliant on medication to remain functioning and again, who said medication works for everyone or that anxiety can just be turned into drive? He describes himself at the beginning as a chronic worrier but if this man were ever diagnosed with an anxiety disorder he’d eat his words overnight and hang his head in shame at how wrong he was. He suggests that if you can just “take control of the other three anxieties” then “we will have the mental space to seek out pleasures rather than focus on unfixable problems”. If it were that simple I’d have done it by now but alas I’m left virtually housebound because of anxiety reading articles like this feeling utterly frustrated that such an ignorant voice is allowed to make such vastly inaccurate statements about something he doesn’t understand. This article has fed into the already astronomical amount of stigma we have in society about anxiety disorders which is clearly shown in the comments section which I read in despair. Hopefully not everyone reading the headline, or indeed the rest of the article, will believe that there is a “cure” for anxiety but I fear that damage will have been done.

In short, four types of anxiety and how to cure them – What a load of bollocks!

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4 comments

  1. A load of bollocks is too true. Well done you for trying to kill stigma, it is a journey that should not be gone at alone (I certainly join you). If people with anxiety could “cure it” then why would it ever be chronic? I am with you on that one all the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for joining me on the journey to end stigma. Together we will fight it and eventually win and my plan is to do that one blog post at a time! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂 x

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  2. The way I read it, the author of this article was not trying to tackle anxiety disorder, just levels of anxiety that are unpleasant rather than disabling, experienced by many people. He does not mention anxiety disorder, but his use of the word “cure” inevitably misdirects the reader’s train of thought towards illness rather than just life experience..
    If he were trying to address anxiety disorder I would agree that his article is a load of bollocks. As it is, I think it’s just a slightly misleading irrelevance.

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    1. Hi Jo,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. As I described in my original post, I’m most concerned about the title and the use of the word “cure” in connection with the word “anxiety”. People who just read that will have submitted it to their subconscious and may well then go on to become one of the many stigmatised people I encounter who will use that as evidence that my anxiety disorder is my own fault because there are “cures” out there. While the writer didn’t mention anxiety disorders, he stated that normal levels of anxiety could be cured using the suggestions he made which I also pointed out is not true and his statement about one of the types being treatable with medication is hugely misleading because this is often not the case. I agree that he wasn’t trying to tackle anxiety disorders however even dismissing normal levels of anxiety as treatable or curable is damaging in my view and I think it’s much more worrying than a “slightly misleading irrelevance”, it feeds stigma and that in turn then damages those of us with mental illnesses. I hope that clears things up a bit about where my view came from. Thanks for reading! x

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