Radio Interview about Anxiety with BBC Radio 5 Live

Today I was woken up by a phonecall that I very nearly didn’t answer because I assumed it was a spam call. Luckily, my curiosity got the better of me and I picked up and was asked if I’d like to interviewed as part of a discussion about anxiety on BBC Radio 5 Live. I always jump at the chance to talk about mental health and raise awareness of these conditions so I agreed and you can hear my interview below. It’s available for 29 days.

Skip to 07.33 for the start of the discussion and 15.01 for my part.

Do let me know what you think!

10 Ways to Help Your Mentally Ill Child

This week is Children’s Mental Health week and with 1 in every 10 children displaying symptoms of mental illness and a great deal of adults (me included) starting their mentally ill journey in childhood, I thought I’d tackle the problem head on and explain what ways you as a parent can help your child who is, or may become, mentally ill. Here are 10 things to do when talking to your mentally ill, or possibly mentally ill child.

1. Reassure them – The first thing that’s really important is to reassure yourself and your child that it’s really common to suffer from mental illness and it’s ok. People can and do recover from mental illness and many of us go on to lead perfectly normal lives either free from mental illness or managing its impact on us. We’re often perfectly capable of being at school, going to university, getting a job, getting married, having a family, and doing all of the things that are considered ‘normal’. 1 in 4 adults in the UK have a mental illness each year and 1 in 3 will in their lifetime – it’s really common and you can overcome it.

2. It’s not about you – The last thing your child needs is for you to blame yourself or start thinking about what you could have done to prevent it or how you might have caused it. If your child became diabetic or got cancer, you wouldn’t blame yourself, you’d just go into overdrive about how you could get treatment, this is the best way forward with mental health too – it’s an illness like any other. You’re not a terrible parent and having a child with a mental illness doesn’t mean anything about you. Keep focusing on them.

3. It’s not their fault – Their condition isn’t because of anything they have or haven’t done and no matter how much it looks like it, it’s not in their control. Telling them to cheer up, think positively, or just eat more, or telling them a list of all the things they have to live for won’t help them at all and will just alienate them further than their condition is already doing. Trust that they are doing their best to manage their condition and don’t EVER blame them!

4. Believe them – The most damaging thing I have experienced during my mental illnesses has been being disbelieved and accused of lying. Children do lie but it’s very rare that they’ll lie about mental illness for any length of time and if they’ve managed to pluck up the courage to tell you that they’re not ok, then you need to sit up and listen because they may not tell you again. Always believe them!

5. Take it seriously – This is not a phase. Mental illness is not the same as raging hormones or having a stroppy teenager. The things they’re going through may well not pass after a couple of rough months of sulking and door-slamming and you need to be prepared for this. Don’t play it down or dismiss it, listen to them and take action if necessary. Always take mental illness symptoms seriously.

6. Do something – If you notice changes in your child’s behaviour that you’re worried about, ask them about it. Don’t be afraid of discovering mental illness because the sooner you know what you’re battling, the sooner you can start fighting it with your child and the more likely they are to recover. Don’t wait, do something as soon as you have concerns!

7. Get help – If you or your child are concerned, go to your family doctor and make sure they believe your child and take them seriously. If they don’t listen, take them to another doctor until someone does. The sooner your child gets treatment, the better their chances of making a full recovery and learning coping strategies and management skills so they can go on to live a happy and fulfilled life. Children are often dismissed and fobbed off (I certainly was), don’t allow this to happen or treatment may be offered way too late. Don’t give up until they get the help they need.

8. Talk to them – Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and if your child doesn’t have someone to talk to, they may deteriorate faster. It is likely to be very difficult and painful for you to hear that your child is suffering and hurting, but it’s much better for them to be able to confide in someone and for you to be kept up to date with how they’re doing so that you can get more help for them if it becomes necessary. Mental illness is utterly isolating and this is made so much worse when people around you are scared of talking about the feelings that you’re struggling so much with. Try to put your own feelings aside and listen to your child in a non-judgemental way so that they feel safe and able to express themselves. Just talk to them!

9. Research – Read about mental illness and when doing so, ignore everything the media tells you, mentally ill people are not often rampaging serial killers, they’re not crying in a heap constantly, mental illness has many faces and takes many forms and media representations are almost always wrong. Read real-life accounts of mental illness so that you can gain understanding about what it’s like to live with on a day-to-day basis (you can read about my own experiences of mental illness here). Find out about the symptoms and warning signs of the most common conditions so that you can be prepared and know what to look out for (links to useful websites below). Research, research, research – knowing what you’re fighting make it so much easier to fight effectively!

10. You can do it! – Mental illness is scary and unknown, and when you’re thrown into the midst of it, it can be terrifying, but by talking to your child about it, you will empower yourself and them to deal with it in the best way possible, as quickly as possible. Your child will be equipped to help their friends who might start displaying symptoms or confide in them that they’re feeling something different and they will also know that mental illness isn’t a taboo subject in your household so they can talk to you about it if something’s worrying them about themselves or someone else. Most of all, remember that anything you do off this list will be better than nothing and you can become a team with your child to tackle this together. You may not believe it but You CAN Do It!

Please share this as widely as possible so that parents and other adults who children might confide in can be equipped to deal with it. One of my favourite quotes comes from Bill Clinton who said “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all”.

If you need more help, information or advice, please visit the following links.



Dignity and Respect – Being Treated Like a Human Being (World Mental Health Day)

October the 10th was World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme was dignity. I originally thought this didn’t apply to my situation because I am, mostly, dignified whilst being ill and treated with dignity, or so I thought. I started this post by looking up the definition which I found to be as follows:
Dignity – The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.
As soon as I read that, I realised that I was wrong – while I may behave in a dignified manner, I’ve certainly not always been treated in a dignified way and have often not felt worthy of honour or respect because of the way I’ve been behaved towards.

Dignity is something that is often overlooked when treating people with mental health problems and we are often not given the respect we deserve. Sadly, this behaviour is often directed towards us by the very people who we have sought help from, who are trained to deal with our conditions and who we are reliant upon to offer or refer us for treatment. Is it any wonder then that it takes most people such a long time to even go to their GP when they suspect they may be mentally ill? Stigma is still rife within our society and while it is improving and openly stigmatic behaviour is starting to reduce, there is still a really long way to go and unfortunately, nowhere is this more necessary than within the medical community.

My experience of seeking treatment has been very varied and it’s often a very lengthy process. Even when I’ve gone to my GP about physical problems, I’m often disbelieved or it’s assumed that my symptoms are psychosomatic or even made up – all because I have a mental illness. I’m regularly talked down to, patronised and treated with condescension and this has very much put me off doctors and seeking help unless I really have to because I simply don’t have the energy to fight for someone, who should be understanding and sympathetic, to even believe me. Couple with this, the responses I’ve had from doctors when attempting to get a diagnosis or treatment for my mental illnesses and we’ve got one hell of a problem.

A month before I turned 16, circumstances in my life led to me feeling incredibly sad and low and unable to cope anymore, pretty much over night. Mental illness was not something that had featured in my life up until that point – none of my relatives or friends were ill to my knowledge and my only experience was that of over-hyped and dramatized portrayals in the media of violent offenders and people muttering to themselves and rocking whilst strapped into straight-jackets in padded cells. So when I started feeling low and it didn’t go away, I didn’t know what to do. I thought people would think I was silly and that I should just be able to cheer myself up because nothing terrible had happened, no one had died, I hadn’t been attacked, things were just going wrong at home. Eventually, after 2 months of never feeling better, I finally plucked up the courage to go to the doctors. I thought I was going to get sectioned or medicated but I didn’t know what else to do and the thoughts I was having were starting to scare me. I explained to my GP what was wrong and that this wasn’t normal for me. After 10 minutes she told me that it was “January Blues” and “every teenager in the country is feeling like this at the moment”. I said to her at the time that there would be a lot of suicides if that were the case but I was sent home and she did nothing. Two months later I went back, I’d started self-harming and was feeling suicidal every day, she took one look at me and referred me to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service because I was very ill and needed help. The first doctor I met there was great, he treated me like a person and was very respectful and understanding about how bad I was feeling and that something needed to be done about it. I wasn’t so lucky with any of the other staff I met there. I was allocated a nurse who I saw once a week who spoke to me like a child and contradicted me every time I said I was feeling worse. I was put on medication more than once and never monitored properly and then told off and admonished when I took myself off it because it was making me suicidal and I felt unsafe. I felt like a naughty child, not a 16-year-old who clearly knew their own mind and felt in danger.

Fast forward to 18 months ago and dignity was thrown out the window by my new GP who decided that telling me to “try harder” whilst dealing with crippling side effects from medications that were later described by a psychiatrist as “virtually poisoning you”, was the best way forward. I practically had to beg her to even refer me to a psychiatrist despite having a history of medication-resistant depression because she felt that I didn’t need one and she was doing a “perfectly good job of treating me herself”. Eventually she conceded and I was able to see a psychiatrist. This has been a good and bad experience. I’ve been lied to, fobbed off, ignored, disbelieved and dismissed. At points I’ve been spoken to like the knowledgeable, well-educated adult that I am who is well aware of the limitations of the NHS and who has studied, worked in and experienced as a patient, the mental health services in this country. But that has been rare. Instead of treating me with dignity and respect, most decisions about my treatment are made without me, often without my knowledge and my very character is often questioned when it’s assumed that my conditions simply can’t be as bad as I’m describing. I highly doubt cancer patients are treated like this when vomiting because of chemo or dealing with hair loss – are they told by doctors to just “try harder” or “stop focusing on the negative thoughts”? I think not! So why am I? Why am I dismissed and treated with so little respect?

It’s clear that many doctors have never been mentally ill, and they’re very lucky. But for those of us that are, it’s hard enough trying to deal with the conditions we have and the things that go hand-in-hand with that like low self-esteem and self-worth without having to deal with doctors judging us, accusing us of faking it, exaggerating, or causing it ourselves. It’s so hard to pluck up the courage to even go to the GP and admit that there’s a problem that you can no longer cope with or hide, without fearing how they might react to you. In an ideal world, we would all be treated as human beings, with dignity and respect, regardless of what symptoms or conditions we have. But currently, this isn’t the case. Something has got to change. Medical professionals, especially those that don’t work in frontline mental health services, are vastly ill-equipped and under-trained to deal with mental illness and instead of seeing people like me as people who are ill, they just seem to see us as walking labels. They still seem to have hugely stigmatic beliefs about us being in control of our conditions and able to just “snap out of it” or “pull ourselves together” and we’re treated accordingly, with disdain, coldness and even aggression sometimes.

First and foremost I’m a human being. After that, I’m many many things – I’m Lucy, I’m female, I’m 24 years old, I’m kind and caring, I’m creative, I’m a great friend. I’m also mentally ill but I’m not those conditions. I’m not anxiety, I’m not depression – I have those, but I’m not them. I am a human being and that entitles me to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of what conditions I might have. The sooner I’m viewed as a person rather than a list of symptoms, the sooner I’ll be viewed as someone who is suffering and should be treated with dignity rather than a problem that needs to fixed or made to “see sense”. I might be mentally ill but I’m not mad, I don’t lie, I don’t make things up, I’m completely rational. If I say I’m ill, if I say I’m suffering then I’m not trying to gain another label or diagnosis for fun – I don’t get points for it, they certainly don’t convert to prizes. The only reason I seek diagnosis is in the vain hope that it might lead to treatment. Being spoken to in such a dismissive way has stopped me seeking help for most of my conditions and has had a major impact on my self-esteem because it makes me feel less of a person to have a doctor questioning me and treating me with so little respect.

Finally, while I’ve focused on the medical profession within this post, they are certainly not the only people that have not treated me with the dignity and respect I deserve. As you’ll have read in previous blog posts, I’ve been treated disrespectfully by a whole host of people throughout my time as an ill person and this has got to change. You can be that change. Next time you’re talking to someone who’s mentally ill, really listen to what they’re saying, don’t try to fix it, dismiss it, or make them see the positive – just listen. Then think about how you would want someone to respond if you’d just said all of that and were feeling that way. Chances are, you’d just want to be acknowledged, to be accepted and to feel heard. Most of all, you’d want to be treated with Dignity and Respect – you’d want to be Treated Like a Human Being. Be that change today!

N.B – A huge thanks goes to Steve “Squidoodle” Turner for his amazing Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Colouring Page which I coloured in green for Mental Health Awareness. If you’d like to get a copy to colour yourself, he’s generously offered it as a free download on his Facebook Page which can be found here. Enjoy and help raise awareness!

A Bad Week to Have Depression

Well, what a week it’s been for mental health, particularly depression, in the media. It’s been a very challenging time to be depressed when the condition has been so firmly under the microscope for all the wrong reasons.

We started off with the terrible news that a Co-Pilot for Germanwings had deliberately crashed a plane killing all passengers and crew. Within 48 hours there were revelations about his mental health and dramatic headlines including “Suicide pilot had a long history with depression. Why on Earth was he allowed to fly?” and “Madman in cockpit”. This was all well before any investigations had been carried out and the news stories were written with a huge amount of guesswork and lots of assumptions being made. Numerous articles have since sprung up suggesting that anyone with a mental illness shouldn’t be allowed responsibility “just in case”. Good luck filling jobs when 1 in 10 of us have the condition. This article written by Piers Morgan just epitomises how damaging taking the actions of one person with a mental illness can be with a ridiculously dramatic headline to boot Depressed pilots on medication for mental illness should not be flying passenger planes. That’s not insensitive – it’s protecting lives.

Following this, there was a huge backlash against the way the media had reported Andreas Lubitz’ history of depression. This backlash came from bloggers, sufferers and mental health charities, all condemning the way it had been reported. Mind issued a statement to the media, found here, in which they asked the media to report mental illness more sensitively and not be quite so simplistic or assumptive while facts are still emerging.

We then had the delight of reading Katie Hopkins’ very public views and opinions on depression which spread like wildfire through the Twittersphere. Her comments included – calling suicidal people “Attention seeking b*stards”, that “There is no stigma around depression. There are only realists and people pissed off because their train is delayed.” and this particularly archaic view “To be diagnosed as depressed is the holy grail of illness for many. The ultimate passport to self-obsession. Get a grip people.” If you can stomach it, more can be read here. I think we’re all well aware now that this woman is a professional troll who loves nothing more than to identify a minority/vulnerable group and then make sweeping generalisations and wild and outrageous claims about them just to get a reaction from the public. However, when you attack the depressed, you’re doing a very dangerous thing, particularly in the aftermath of us being dubbed by the media as unable to work, unstable and dangerous. I’m sure the majority of the depressed community were left reeling following the media headlines and stories after the Germanwings crash but jumping on that bandwagon and attacking us while we’re down is spineless and vile. Katie Hopkins has clearly never experienced depression, so why she thinks she should have an opinion on the condition I don’t know! She states herself that she suffers from epilepsy, I do not have epilepsy and therefore wouldn’t go around publicly posting tweets about something I not only don’t have to live with, but also know nothing about. Depression is characterised by low self-esteem and low self-worth and also suicidal tendencies. Attacking depressed people and suggesting such untrue and offensive things is not only damaging and hurtful (I spent part of Sunday crying at what she’d written), but also very dangerous when the media has already suggested that we should not be trusted or given any responsibility or power which feeds right into many of our own (incorrect) beliefs about ourselves.This is far more likely to increase suicide rates than elicit spontaneous recovery!

With 1 in 4 of us experiencing mental health problems at any one time and a lifetime prevalence of 1 in 3, people who currently aren’t mentally ill but are sticking the knife in and spreading stigmatising stories and information need to be very careful. If it’s not you that gets ill, then it probably will be your mother or father, or one of your two children, or one of your two best friends. We now live in a society where mental illness is so common that we all live within its glass house and should therefore be very careful about throwing stones. It only takes a few negative events in close succession to take down the strongest of people who never “seemed like the type” to get depression. Because, much as many health people hate to admit, depression isn’t about weakness, it’s not about a “type” and it’s not even about your circumstances. Depression is the most common mental illness and spans all ages, genders, races, economic backgrounds, education levels and careers. There are variances in prevalence within these groups with people suffering more hardship being more likely to get depression, but the rich and highly educated are by no means immune. So wake up, smell the coffee, and thank your lucky stars if you’re not currently one of the 1 in 4 people like me who have to struggle every day but still manage to function as human beings. We’re perfectly capable of holding down jobs, of having responsibility, of doing just about anything that a person without a mental illness can do. Sometimes, we might need extra support, or a break, or some treatment but we’re just as capable of being teachers, nurses, pilots, mental health workers, parents, friends and politicians as you are. We’re not dangerous, we’re ill, there are a few mentally ill people who do evil things like crashing planes, just like there are a few “healthy” people who do the same. Nothing to do with health!

When I talk to people about stigma and say that I campaign against it and tell my story so that others can gain understanding of what it’s like, I’m often greeted by responses about how stigma has reduced and that now is the least stigmatised time to be mentally ill and people even suggest that stigma about mental illness has ended. This week in the media has shown just how far we still have to go and just what a huge step backwards we can take when one man’s actions are attributed to a misunderstood condition. Andreas Lubitz committed a terrible crime whilst having the condition, not because of it. People who think that stigma is no longer a problem have hopefully had a wake up call this week and have seen that it is still rife and that while public perceptions are changing slowly over time, the media drag us all backwards by inappropriately reporting mental illness stories time and time again. For my dissertation for my Psychology Degree I investigated the effects of media reports on mental illness and came across some astounding statistics. Only 1 in 4 stories about mental illness in the media portray positive views and these stories are on average half the length of the negative stories. They also offer no disclaimers when reporting crimes committed by people with mental illnesses leading a huge amount of society to believe that mental illness causes violence. True crime statistics show that mentally ill people are less likely to commit crime than healthy individuals and that they are more likely to be the victim of crime than the perpetrator. I also discovered that reading positive information and facts about mental illness before or after reading a negative and stigmatising article only has a very very small effect on reducing stigmatic beliefs. This means that just reading positive things and hearing from people like me, who despite being depressed for 8 years, has managed not to harm anyone or commit any crimes in the process, is not enough to reduce stigma and that we therefore need to reduce it at source and stop printing such inflammatory and dramatic information that is not true or representative of a widespread set of conditions that affect up to one third of our population.

I’ll leave you with this – Mental illness does not make you dangerous, violent or any more likely to commit a crime. Do not believe what you read in the media and instead read the mental health charity websites where you can find out statistics about prevalence, crime, prognosis etc. The only people that depressed people are a risk to is themselves. No one I’ve ever met with depression has even considered harming anyone else, let alone crashing a plane. This has been A Bad Week to Have Depression but slowly but surely enough people like me will shout loud enough and the media will have to stop being so stigmatic in their approach to reporting news.

Taking 5 minutes to talk to BBC Radio Sussex

My Radio Interview – 52 mins in.

Today was Time To Talk Day run by the charity Time To Change. I spent the day talking to people online, posting statuses on Facebook about mental illness and how to start up conversations about it, and speaking live on air to my local radio station. The link above is to my radio interview on BBC Radio Sussex and my section can be found 52 minutes in. I really had to challenge my anxiety to speak on the radio but it was something that I really wanted to do because I feel very strongly about speaking out about mental illness so that we can stop the stigma that surrounds it. It all went by in a bit of a blur but if it reaches one person and changes their mind about mental illness or encourages someone to talk about their experiences then it was totally worth it. I’ll be back to writing regular posts soon but just wanted to share this interview with you for the time being. If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to talk about mental illness, it’s so important and means people like me know that we have support around us.

What’s Wrong With Your Eyebrows? – Trichotillomania!

Trichotillomania. You’ve probably not even heard of this condition. Neither had I. That was, until I saw a documentary on Channel 4 about 5 years ago where I suddenly realised that other people like me existed and that I wasn’t the “freak” I had first thought. I will point out here that I’m not diagnosed with this condition but I’m 99% sure that I have it and as there’s very little treatment for it, I’m sparing myself from having to add another diagnosis to my official list. But back to the condition and what it is – trichotillomania is an impulse-control disorder where sufferers feel compelled to pull out their own hair. This is often from the scalp but also commonly includes eyebrows and eyelashes. Patients with the condition often experience shame, guilt and embarrassment, and as the condition is quite rare and not well known, most patients only find out through the media or their doctor, potentially years after developing the condition. Treatment, if offered, usually involves patients having some form of psychological therapy as it’s widely believed to be a condition, caused by or linked to stress.

I don’t remember when I first started pulling out my own hair and I’m lucky enough that I’ve never felt compelled to pull out hair from my scalp which often causes sufferers to have bald patches and in extreme cases damage so severe that the hair doesn’t grow back. The earliest memory I have of it is when I was about 12 before I started shaving my legs and I used to pull the hairs out of my knees. It used to hurt at first so I’ve got no idea why I continued but it seemed to give me a sense of relief and I got some sense of pleasure from it. I don’t remember how often I did it but I know it was something I did regularly. When I was 16 I got depression and sometime before or during that period I started pulling out my eyelashes. Again, it really hurt to begin with but it was really compelling and I felt I had to do it. It became completely habitual and I wouldn’t even notice I was doing it. I have very sensitive fingertips and I’d sit at my desk at school or on the sofa or lie in bed and I’d stroke along my lash line forwards and backwards and then pull out hairs. I’d try really hard to stop myself because I started getting big gaps that were becoming very noticeable as I have naturally dark, quite long eyelashes, but I couldn’t stop myself until the urge went away. For months I did this and at various points over the years I’ve had no eyelashes at all because I pulled them out so frequently.

Unfortunately, when I turned 18 I started pulling out my eyebrows too. I regularly end up with gaps in one or both of my eyebrows and it’s really noticeable because I have dark hair and pale skin as you can see from the photos above. There was even a point where I got so stressed one Christmas that I ended up with no eyebrows at all and people thought I’d shaved them off which was awful. I didn’t know which was more humiliating, saying I or someone else had shaved them off, or that I was so stressed that I’d pulled them out. I’ve had some really horrible comments over the years and people are very blunt when they ask about it. I regularly get asked “What’s wrong with you?”, “What happened to your eyebrows?” and even online from a stranger got asked “What the fuck is wrong with you? You look like an alien. Or a man.” On a couple of occasions I’ve even been asked if I have cancer. I’m now very self-conscious and try to have a full or side fringe to cover up my eyebrows so it’s less noticeable. I also used to have blonde highlights because then, at least from a distance, it looked like I just had fair eyebrows and eyelashes that couldn’t be seen. It’s hard though. As a child I grew up doing dance performances on stage and was wearing make-up for that from the age of 6. I’ve only ever worn full eye make-up on stage because by the time I’d have worn it normally, I wasn’t able to. I’ve not been able to wear mascara or dark eyeliner since I was 15 and as silly as it may sound, that’s one of my dreams for when I hopefully beat this condition. I long for the day when I can buy and apply mascara and eyeliner.

My hair pulling is certainly linked to my stress levels as I do it far more when I’m feeling worried or nervous and would often do it during exams while reading the questions or when I was trying to think up the answers. Because it’s habitual I’m not aware that I do it a lot of the time which makes stopping myself very difficult. I’m a very open person normally and there’s not a lot that I won’t talk about, but this is something that very few people in my life know about (until now). In fact, I’ve only told 5 people about it and I feel very apprehensive about posting this online for the world to see. If I didn’t though I wouldn’t be practicing what I preach. I firmly believe that we should all be able to talk about whatever illnesses and conditions we have. People aren’t embarrassed that they bite their nails or smoke so I shouldn’t be embarrassed that I feel compelled to pull out my hair. Maybe if more people knew about the condition, I wouldn’t keep having to deal with horrible ignorant comments about my appearance. So there you have it, I’ve opened up my soul and posted some of my most hated photographs showing just how bad my condition has got over the years but hopefully in the good cause of explaining and answering – What’s Wrong With Your Eyebrows? – Trichotillomania!

For more information please visit the following websites:

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

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!