Experiencing anxiety can be such an isolating experience. As well as dealing with the uncomfortable way that we feel on the inside, we also use a lot of energy trying to disguise how we are feeling from those around us. There are lots of reasons for this. We feel afraid that they will think we are crazy, because crazy is how we sometimes feel when our thoughts are tumbling around fearfully and avoidantly, telling us cautionary tales which begin with ‘what if?’. We also often feel physically uncomfortable, which can be really hard to describe to someone who isn’t anxious. It makes us feel that we are hypochondriacs, so we tend to keep quiet and suffer alone.
The state of anxiety is really your Fight, Flight, Fear response in action. This is the most intense of all of our states because it has one sole purpose. Our survival. It is dramatic in nature because it needs to be. It is the manifestation of all of our available energy being available to us in the moment, alongside a body and mind that are ready to take action. The problem is as we know, in the case of the anxious state, unlike in a genuinely threatening situation, there is no action to be taken.
Often when I work with people, they are very concerned about being perceived as ‘mentally ill’. Across the 22 years that I’ve been working with people who are experiencing anxiety, nothing has convinced me that it in any way represents an ‘illness’ or a ‘broken brain’. Positioning anxiety as a ‘disorder’ in my experience leads to a greater sense of fear, isolation and marginalisation. Regardless of the good intentions of mental health campaigning, there is still a great deal of stigma to be experienced when we are not emotionally in a good place. These campaigns often represent the ‘illness’ model of understanding anxiety, which re-enforces the idea that there is something wrong with the mind of the individual. This can cause us to fear that others will think less of us, even the ones who love us dearly. Although we may be experiencing anxiety, we are also dignified human beings, who don’t like to be seen as feeble or weak. We often know that we are strong and capable, and yet the way we feel when in the anxious state renders us vulnerable. This can sometimes be why we are reluctant to ask for help. Sometimes we also have experiences of asking for help that don’t lead to us feeling better. This can make the search for relief seem futile. Part of us gives up and just feels that we may have to live with the discomfort of the anxious state, and plough on as best we can. It’s important to know that we are not alone in our distress and discomfort and we are also not alone in our desire to feel better.
Anxiety is a universal response to stress, threat, injustice, overwhelm and the expectations placed upon us in a modern world, including the ones we place upon ourselves. I study and research in the field of Global Mental Health, part of which involves looking at how different geographical cultures and societies experience and respond to anxiety. There are different names for anxiety across the globe, and many different interpretations of the meanings and understandings that shape the individual experience of it. However, there is one commonality. Every anxious state is an activation of an autonomic nervous system due to some kind of duress, which is a perfectly natural, biological and human response, not evidence of a broken brain or personality problem, wherever in the globe we happen to be.
I created this website because when I reached out in many directions when I was anxious years ago, I couldn’t find anyone who really understood what I was going through. I hope that this site gives you what I couldn’t find. An explanation, a way of responding to anxiety that is empowering and enlightening, and hope. It’s with deep care and love that I share this with you and wish you all the very best in the process of restoring a more comfortable state.