Posts tagged: severe anxiety

Severe Anxiety: Confronting the Social Stigma

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By Paula Marolewski, August 20, 2009 7:54 am

It’s strange: we don’t mind saying we have diabetes or heart trouble or a broken leg … but nobody wants to admit that they have severe anxiety or an anxiety disorder (or any other mental or emotional condition). There remains a very real social stigma when it comes to admitting that we have a problem that is located in our mind or brain or emotions.

But since writing Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights & Practical Help for Severe Anxiety, I have (understandably!) begun sharing much more openly with others about my struggle with severe anxiety and my journey toward wholeness. This is what I’ve found:

  • An incredible number of people suffer from severe anxiety. Some have dealt with it successfully, some are still deeply in its grip.
  • There are many others who are suffering from severe anxiety – and don’t know it. All they know is that their life is falling apart. But since they don’t know the problem, they can’t work toward a solution.
  • Most people know someone who has suffered or is suffering from severe anxiety. Some of those people know how to offer help to the sufferer; some do not.
  • Many people are treading the danger line of severe anxiety, living life stressed to the max and pushing their limits day after day. They have no idea how close they are to triggering a real anxiety problem.

Here’s the key: by talking openly about severe anxiety, I have had the opportunity to help people in each of these categories. If I bowed to the prevailing social stigma and kept my mouth shut, their pain would have continued unchecked.

That is why I am encouraging you today: if you have suffered or are suffering from severe anxiety, don’t be ashamed. Don’t hide it, afraid of “what people might think.” Certainly, there’s no need to shout it from the rooftops, as it were. It’s a personal matter and should be shared or not shared in the same way you would treat any other part of your private business. But if you are in conversation with someone and the topic naturally comes up, I encourage you strongly: be open about it. You’ll never know the help you might receive or give (and often both!) until you try.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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