I’m so happy that over the past few years the stigma attached to mental health disorders has massively changed. People aren’t afraid to speak out anymore and when we start to open up, good changes happen. Now, personally I think stigmas exist due to lack of knowledge, people being unaware about what these disorders entail and therefore judging based on socially constructed stereotypes, this makes speaking out feel scary.
I don’t want it to be scary for you. I want you to be happy with who you are. So today I’ve decided to clear up some misconceptions that I have come across about people living with anxiety disorders (all my own thoughts).
1). ‘If you have anxiety you’re quiet, socially awkward and unconfident’- This is completely wrong. In fact, people with anxiety are pretty good at hiding it after a while. It’s something that comes and goes and something with you learn to live with, it doesn’t define your personality in any way whatsoever. I have lived with anxiety for years… and if you know me well, I am definitely not quiet!
2). ‘If you have an eating disorder you’re very underweight’- Again NOT TRUE! An eating disorder is not defined by the way you look, it’s defined by a bad relationship with both food and your body, whether this is undereating, overeating or just a general anxiety around food. You would be surprised about the amount of people living with eating disorders that hide it so awfully well. Its important to recognise the signs of this disorder through a persons behaviour rather than the way they look.
3). ‘If you’re having a panic attack it will be clear to everyone around you‘- If you suffer with panic disorder then you know exactly what I mean. Yes, having a panic attack can be scary for both you and those around you and when its really bad, its a dramatic scene. However, suffering a panic attack doesn’t always involve the physical symptoms of dropping to the floor in pain, sometimes it’s only you that knows it’s happening. You don’t want to make a fuss so try your best to control it, to others this may seem like you’re not listening, mentally not in the room and often seem a bit snappy. Suffering in silence is an often occurrence for those with anxiety…so next time I ignore you, just give me 5 minutes!
4).’ When you have OCD you’ve got an obsession with cleaning‘- Not necessarily. Compulsions within this disorder can be in the form of anything! These compulsions are there to both distract you and protect you from the anxiety that is subconsciously present. For me, it was in the form if touching things 8 times (time consuming I know), for others it can be excessive cleaning, some it’s counting numbers in their head all day long and for others it’s random obsessive thoughts. Each debilitating and time consuming. So next time you see someone doing something out of the ordinary, accept that it’s just a little quirk of theirs. Its hard enough carrying out compulsions all day long so not having to answer questions is a big bonus for OCD sufferers.
5). ‘If you have depression you look sad all the time’- People who have depression are often the ones you least expect. We often assume people with depression are easy to spot yet a lot of these sufferers are good at hiding it. Just because someone lights up a room it doesn’t mean they’re sparkly and bright on the inside, take this into account.
6). ‘When you have anxiety you’re scared of everything’- Like they say, feel the fear and do it anyway. Having anxiety doesn’t mean you’re more scared than anyone else, you might just worry a little more. I still get nervous posting blogs just in case no one likes them or thinks they’re stupid, but it doesn’t mean I won’t post. I like to challenge myself to do something that scares me everyday. Try it tomorrow.
7). “I’m not the anxious type”-Yes you might not suffer with an anxiety disorder but anxiety itself is part of human nature, it’s a function that we all experience at some point in our lives. That’s why it’s important to know how to both control it and deal with it. My blogs are not just for people with disorders, they’re for everyone!
8). A different type of assumption, “You only write these blogs to help people”- Of course I write them to help people and I want my blogs to reach as many people as possible but I want you to know I also do it for myself. Writing has pulled me out of so many dark places and that’s why I’m so grateful that you read them…so I can keep writing. They help me in so many ways and I really hope they help you too!
Thanks so much for reading guys, I really hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it! Hope you’re all staying safe and well and have an amazing weekend in the sun. Keep shining!