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Anxiety Stigma

Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month dedicated to highlighting mental health and mental health difficulties so that people understand how common it is to experience challenges and to provide a very realistic sense of hope. This message is crucial, for it reduces the unfortunate sense of shame and isolation that so many people feel when they suffer from anxiety or any other mental health challenge. In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some truths about anxiety.
TJ DeSalvo
Anxiety and being tired is common, and I’ve also noticed that anxiety can mess with your sleep patterns in weird ways. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get to sleep when you’re anxious – this makes sense, given that your mind is probably racing like crazy. But on the other hand, sometimes, if you’re anxious, you just can’t stay awake – this also makes sense because anxiety can make even the mundane seem overwhelming, and sleeping is a way to filter all that out. For me, there’s no telling when anxiety will cause me to be tired or lose sleep – recently, I’ve been going through a bout of always feeling tired, so I wanted to talk about that.
TJ DeSalvo
One of the most damaging misconceptions about mental illness, anxiety included, is that it’s somehow necessary to produce something creative. This could not be further from the truth – the reality is often the exact opposite. Anxiety can often be crippling to creativity, for reasons that are, when they are given even just a little thought, more than obvious.
TJ DeSalvo
I’m far from the first person to discuss the above topic. However, I feel it is important to continually raise awareness of the social causes of anxiety until those causes are recognized more broadly.
TJ DeSalvo
Changes in technology and social norms create anxiety for people like me who avoid social media as much as possible. In previous posts on this blog, I’ve discussed my aversions to social media and how it almost certainly exacerbates anxiety. I’ve discussed ways to structure my life in order to better live with those aversions.
TJ DeSalvo
One of my many hobbies, aside from reading and listening to music, is playing video games, and playing them helps my anxiety. I’ve been a video game fan for almost as long as I can remember when I tried playing Sonic 2 on the then cutting-edge Sega Genesis. Even today, if I’m not feeling well, I’ll put on a favorite game and spend the day immersed in its world.
TJ DeSalvo
In a recent post, I discussed the frustrations I’ve encountered dealing with people reacting to anxiety who, in my opinion, don’t do it in a way that’s helpful. I mentioned viewing anxiety as something scary and deviant isn’t the right way to do it, and that the reality of living with anxiety should be viewed with more nuance. I want to go a bit further into this in this post, suggesting that the reality of living with day-to-day anxiety is much more mundane.
TJ DeSalvo
This is going to sound, to some, unduly harsh, but I’ve been finding it more and more frustrating to be around people who don’t have anxiety, because it’s been made very clear to me that most people who don’t have it don’t have any clue how to react to anxiety when it happens.
TJ DeSalvo
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels an almost permanent sense of inferiority because of my anxiety; if I were to guess, I’d say that’s common across the board for the mentally ill. That sense of inferiority often makes me feel like a hypocrite. After all, on this very blog, I have, from the very beginning, been a vocal proponent for more acceptance towards the mentally ill, both in terms of society at large and among the mentally ill themselves. This sense of inferiority would suggest that I still see myself as somewhat lesser than my mentally healthy counterparts, and there is truth to that. In this blog, I want to explore this in a bit more detail.
TJ DeSalvo
It's natural to wonder how to protest if you have anxiety. The protests resonate with us, but it's difficult to go out and raise your voice in solidarity when you live with anxiety.