Anxiety Stigma

My mental illness will never be cured, but I’m not asking you to think my opinions are the only valid ones. That would be a mistake. All I ask is that you listen and agree if you so choose. That being said, this post is going to touch on the idea of finding a “cure” for mental illness. For some, the idea of being “cured” of their malady is a dream – for me, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never be cured, and, in fact, I don’t want to be cured of my mental illness.
I feel high anxiety in the heat. This is not the first time I’ve mentioned this. I just don’t deal with heat well. I never have. Not surprisingly, July is perhaps the worst month for someone like me, as it’s often more than just hot – it’s unbearably hot.
The increased awareness of people who are mentally ill has led to an increase in the number of people who want to be mental health allies. Both of these things are great, of course. However, if you want to be an ally, there are good and bad ways to do it, and perhaps the most important thing to remember is if you want to be an ally, don’t be selfish.
It's important to divulge your anxiety disorder to important people, and in a previous post, I tried to convince whoever I could that disclosing your anxiety was in your best interest. If you are one of those readers and actually took my advice, thank you. Now, you may need some practical tips for how to divulge your anxiety to others – I hope these can help.
Disclosure is an important part of living with any mental illness, anxiety included. For those unaware, disclosure simply means letting the people in your life know that you are mentally ill. In a future post, I will share some more practical advice for when you disclose, but right now, I want to focus specifically on why I feel disclosing is so important, and why I feel everyone with mental illness should disclose.
For many of you, hearing me recommend being alone while anxious may seem foreign, if not counterproductive. After all, a common suggestion for people with any mental illness is to maintain a healthy support network to get you through tough times. I’m not disagreeing with that suggestion, for I think it’s vitally important for your health. What I am suggesting is that during those periods of heightened anxiety, it may be helpful to step away from everyone and allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts.
A few weeks ago, I outlined why I think American society causes anxiety. I want to revisit this topic again, but this time focus on one particular social plague: what Medium’s Gabriella Rackoff calls: "the cult of the entrepreneur."
The myth of holiday suicide is one of the most stubborn myths related to mental illness. Because it’s now officially the holiday season, I want to take this opportunity to do my part to bust the most stubborn myth. Most of you have probably heard there is a significant increase in suicides during the holiday season; however, as the title of this post suggests, this is a myth. Suicide rates are actually lower than average during the holidays, with their peaks occurring in the spring and fall. While most people probably don’t think much of the myth, dismissing it as another old wives tale tenaciously hanging on to relevance, I’m much more disturbed by it, and feel the holiday suicide myth needs to be addressed with some degree of urgency.
I’ve found that stuffed animals help with my anxiety. However, for most people, sleeping with stuffed animals is something considered appropriate only for young children. Instinctively, it does feel a bit strange to imagine an adult with an army of stuffed animals thrown about on their bed. But perhaps it’s time to condemn that instinctual judgment as inaccurate and overly bigoted –- perhaps the benefits of sleeping with stuffed animals to help with anxiety into adulthood are something we should all take seriously.
Anxiety and laziness seem unseemly because social pressure tells us it’s not okay to be lazy -- or anxious. We tend to value productivity and activity – if we don’t get as much out of the day as we can, we can be looked down upon. However, anxiety and laziness can go together, and it's okay to be lazy when you're anxious.