8th – 14th May is Mental Health Awareness Week. The aim of the awareness week is to get people talking and feeling less self conscious about the struggles they are going through. I wanted to share my post that I wrote on anxiety a couple of months ago.
My article was first published in The Huffington Post.
Does Everyone Think They Have Anxiety?
In the last few years anxiety seems to have become the buzzword of our generation. Everyone has begun to feel more confident at talking openly about mental illness. This is positive in so many ways but some people are beginning to be confused by actual “anxiety” and simple nervousness.
For those who are diagnosed with anxiety their illness is being poo-pooed by many people who are faking it as an easy way out of difficult situations. As a result, anxiety is being tarnished as a credible mental health issue for those who are truly suffering.
It is the same for people with OCD. It can actually be incredibly inconsiderate to say in jest that you are OCD about something whilst true sufferers are having a real daily struggle with a severe case of the disorder. If you have to, once in a while, double check you turned your hair straighteners off before heading out to work it is unlikely to be comparable to OCD sufferers daily struggles.
This week there was a headline in the Daily Mail stating, “Father snorkelling and jet-skiing while claiming £15,000 in benefits because he was too ‘anxious’ to work”. I immediately looked into the comments section because I knew what I would see. Whether the man in this story is officially diagnosed as having anxiety or not, the title was biased and persuasive in forcing people to think negatively when they see the word anxiety in speech marks. The majority of the comments were derogatory. The comments touched on “work shy”, “play[ing] the system” and “sponging layabout”. Whilst this could be completely true it is awfully cruel if he does in fact have a serious case of anxiety.
I do not believe that I personally have anxiety yet there are some days when I have a serious case of nervousness about things such as, driving on the motorway or attending a huge acting audition. However I still carry on doing these things and feel a huge sense of accomplishment once I have done them. Even though I may have felt a sense of anxiousness I am not about to diagnose myself as someone that suffers from anxiety as it is not debilitating me and my lifestyle.
Zoella is famed for being open about her anxiety and has raised awareness by making videos on the subject, discussing what she experiences and how she deals with it. Zoe has even become the digital ambassador for Mind. A lot of her audience are young and easily influenced by her lifestyle. These fans are influenced by her on a daily basis (Zoella was listed on Dubrett’s most influential people in Britain list). In fact she has definitely influenced me to buy a few fashion items over the years. I remember when I was 11, I was obsessed with Britney Spears and unashamedly did anything she did, well until she shaved her hair off, that was a step too far for me. I wonder if Zoella’s openness with anxiety has come as a double edged sword for some children trying to emulate her and have begun using anxiety as an excuse to not do some things. Yet on the other hand, for those truly experiencing anxiety on a regular basis, her openness will be comforting and freeing for those that had previously been too scared to talk.
Do you suffer from anxiety? How do you feel now that anxiety is no longer a taboo subject?