Mental Health / Anxiety

This is the first post in the new series I’m starting on mental health. Instead of writing hundreds and hundreds of words on the frustration I feel about stigma and ignorance, I thought for each mental health issue I’d break it down into three sections:

What is it?

How can I tell?

How can I help?

My answers to each of these questions are going to be based either on my own experiences, or the experiences of those close to me.

Let’s get started with the first mental health disorder I’d like to discuss: anxiety.

What is it?

Like everything to do with mental health, it is subjective. This is going to be a key word throughout this series.

I don’t know the exact medical explanation for anxiety so feel free to educate yourself on it here.

Feeling ‘anxious’ is experiencing an emotion. Experiencing ‘anxiety’ is feeling an emotion.

Having anxiety is a separate matter.

Imagine a street full of locked cars. Each one has an alarm. If someone breaks into one of these cars, or its window is smashed, the alarm goes off. There’s one car on the street, however, whose alarm is different. When this car is locked and a little gust of wind breezes past, its alarm is set off. This car is aware that logically this gust of wind is not going to cause damage like a smashed window, but whether it likes it or not, its alarm is fitted to sound at even the smallest touch. It’s stuck on the street, surrounded by cars with ‘normal’ alarms, unable to move or switch off the alarm itself.

This is a very simplistic description of what it can feel like to have anxiety, though I repeat: everyone’s experience is different.

How can I tell?

There are a number of signs that might indicate that you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder. To name a few:

– overthinking

– lack of self-confidence

– difficulty concentrating

– memory issues

– constant worrying

– getting stressed unnecessarily

– avoiding certain situations (in particular social situations)

– panic attacks (your ‘car alarm going off’ at random and unexpected times)

How can I help?

If someone you know has told you they have anxiety, simply ask them if there’s anything you can say or do at times of panic (or just generally). Something I would really recommend is asking them if there’s anything they would prefer you didn’t say or do when you’re around them – anxiety focuses on the negative so it is pften certain words or actions that it feeds off.

If you believe someone you know might have anxiety, I would suggest avoiding putting any form of pressure on them or commenting on actions they take which might appear odd to you – this is very likely a coping mechanism.

If you believe you might have anxiety, I would suggest visiting You can find information about getting help and coping on a day-to-day basis till you win against it. Trust me, you can.

I really hope you find this helpful.

‘Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can.’


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