Living with Anxiety: You are not Alone

Eileen Bailey Health Guide October 10, 2012
  • When you live with anxiety, it is easy to believe that you are the only person that feels this way. As you look around at the people around you, you imagine that they “have it all together.” As you go about your day, you see people in the grocery store, the bank, walking along the street. They may seem self-assured, completing their daily tasks with purpose. You might watch a movie, a television show or a concert, seeing the actors and singers as confident. You may read a book, seeing the end result, the accomplishment as amazing. But what you don’t see is that many of these people may also have anxiety, depression or some other mental illness. They may have struggled greatly to get where they are and worked hard to overcome their stage fright, social anxiety, phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

     

    Last week, JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, wrote a new book, The Casual Vacancy, with a main character suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. According to an article on Scotsman.com, Rowling understands mental illness because “I’ve certainly had mental health issues, I’ve been depressed; in my teenage years I had issues with anxiety.” [1]

     

    There are a whole host of celebrities who struggle with anxiety:

    • Harrison Ford has a fear of public speaking.
    • Sally Field has suffered from eating disorders, panic attacks, social phobia and extreme shyness.
    • Howie Mandel is very vocal about having obsessive compulsive disorder.
    • Howard Stern has written about the elaborate rituals he performs to control his fears.
    • Kim Bassinger talks openly about her social anxiety and her extreme fear of reading out loud in class when she was younger.
    • Cameron Diaz previously talked about cleaning the doorknobs in her house so often that she faded the paint because of her fear of germs.
    • Leonardo DiCaprio suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder.
    • David Beckham (international soccer star) bought three refrigerators, one for drinks, one for salads and one for other foods and will throw away items, such as cans of soda if there is an odd number of drinks left.
    • Donny Osmond, even when he performed on a weekly basis, suffered from extreme stage fright, saying, “There are times I remember before I walked on stage, where if I had the choice of walking on stage or dying, I would have chosen death.”

    Dealing with anxiety can be a lonely existence. You worry about what others will think if they knew how afraid you were, of even walking outside or going to a mall. You think no one else can feel this bad, this afraid. And yet, all around you are others who also struggle. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health approximately 18 percent of the adults in the U.S. have suffered from anxiety within the past 12 months. That means almost one out of every 5 people you meet may have some type of anxiety disorder. But we often still hide our anxiety, depression or other mental illness for fear that others won’t understand.

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    There is still, despite how common it is, a stigma attached to mental illness.

    That stigma is exactly what the Scottish Mental health Arts and Film Festival is hoping to address with this year’s festival. Using films, exhibitions, theatre, music and comedy, the directors of the festival hope to foster discussion about mental illness, dissipating a little bit of the stigma. The festival director, Lee Knifton stated, “Everyone connects to the arts. When you talk about art, it breaks things down a bit. People talk from a more honest perspective. You’re talking about something you’ve seen, you’re not talking about the issue.” [2] The different events are meant to have the general public get a closer look at mental illness and be able to see it from a different perspective.

     

    While each person’s anxiety is different, it sometimes helps to know that you are not alone. That there are other people who can relate to how you are feeling.

     

    References:

     

    “Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, National Institute of Mental Health

     

    [1] “From JK Rowling to George Michael: Creative People and Their Struggles with Anxiety,” 2012, Oct, 4, Mark Fisher, Scotsman.com