Many people, the world over, struggle with anxiety. In fact, Beyond Blue reports that in 2017-2018, as many as one in seven women in Australia considered themselves as experiencing an anxiety related condition.
What does that data say to you? It tells me that my clients are definitely not alone!
Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of anxiety in modern society, there is still so much chatter and so many untruths being circulated about anxiety. For those who are already experiencing mental and emotional distress, this chatter and these untruths, can have heartbreaking consequences.
So, in an attempt to help educate those who may not be fully aware of how anxiety ‘works’, and for those who want the burden of misinformation reduced…. let’s bust some anxiety myths!
Having anxiety means you’re weak
Having anxiety just means you need some more skills in relation to the selection and management of your thoughts. Maybe you need to breakdown some long held beliefs that are leading to unhelpful thoughts slipping in. Maybe you have some trauma that is yet to be processed. Hey, maybe you just need someone to hold your hand and tell you it’s going to be ok! People with anxiety are some of the strongest I know…. unfortunately with misdirected energy. People with anxiety also have some of the most caring, loving hearts I’ve seen to date. They care so much that it hurts. And that isn’t for the ‘weak’!
Having anxiety means you must need medicating
Medication is only one option for treatment out of the many hundred, likely even many thousand, that exist. You may need it, you may not. You may want it, you may not. Essentially that is a decision for a patient and their GP. With the right support, many people can live long, happy lives without the use of any anxiety medications, but needing it or wanting it is totally fine. Just don’t assume someone needs it. And don’t even think about telling someone, even loosely, that they “should” be medicated. If you do, watch out! I can assure you people will not take to this kindly.
Having anxiety means you must have had a ‘bad’ childhood
Maybe, maybe not.
Each client of mine is so very different. Some have stories they carry with them from childhood but equally as many don’t seem to have anything negative to report from their younger years. Anxiety can come on at any time during a person’s life and its symptoms can be both short and long lived. Any therapy will likely focus more on the present than the past because ultimately the work is about recognising and replacing unhelpful beliefs and thoughts that are impacting on someone here and now. The development of anxiety can be linked to countless life triggers.
Having anxiety means you should avoid all stress
Avoidance makes the anxiety grow! And, truth be told, some stress is good for us. Stress makes us turn up to work on time (so we can keep our job and food on the table), stress makes us more resilient (so we can grow and better handle things in the future) and… stress helps us achieve things we never thought we could (bungy jumping, sky diving – just ask an adrenaline junkie!). Essentially good stress is great and bad stress is terrible. But, to think that we can get through life without ever having to handle something challenging is absurd. Life isn’t without its ups and downs, for anyone.
...now, for the most ridiculous myth of ALL anxiety myths...
Having anxiety means you’re just a worry wart who needs to CALM DOWN!
Wrong. So damn WRONG.
Since the beginning of time did anyone ever told to “CALM DOWN!” actually … calm down? No. Feelings are feelings and their intention is to bring our awareness to something that requires our attention. Telling someone with anxiety to calm down is about as useless as asking the sun to stop rising and setting. It just isn’t going to happen! Anxious people have patterns of behaviour, just like you, and breaking habits, particularly habitual thinking, is hard. Whatever its cause and however it manifests in someone’s life excessive anxiety is a mental health condition and not one to be dismissed or downplayed. If you had a broken leg you’d go to a doctor…and if you have anxiety you’d go to a therapist. Fairly simple. Neither are more or less important, or valid, than the other.
So there you have it… 5 anxiety myths busted!
I hope this article helps… whether you’re the anxious person, or the person supporting and loving an anxious person. Whichever you are, choose kindness.
If you’d like to connect with me and find out how I might be able to support you, please feel free to reach out here. During the Covid health crisis I am only offering phone and online therapy sessions. These are available to women Australia wide.
In the mean time you may also like to check out these articles;
Until next week…
Yours in better mental health,
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!