I come from a long line of worriers. I’m not talking about someone who’s anxious for the mailman to deliver the newest edition of the Pottery Barn catalog; more like the “take me to the hospital because I’m having a heart attack” kind of worry.
Thankfully, the ER visits dramatically drop off after the first one, so I’ve heard…uh, from a reputable source.
Similar to this experience would be the first-time pregnant woman speeding to the hospital thinking her water broke; but then the nurse tells her to go home because she is not in labor, but perhaps should empty her bladder more frequently. Not that this one happened to me.
I rarely struggle with panic attacks anymore, but back in college around exams or when I was singing onstage, I was a mess. You could say I majored in the art of being a worrywart, a nervous ninny, mother hen or fusspot. It’s a BS degree.
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However, for many stress sufferers, the main problem is no one wants to talk about it. It’s rarely discussed in the media, or around the water cooler, unless they are talking about someone else. There is a deeply engrained, invisible stigma glued to it. Some might think of these persons as weak or timid, but nobody decides to be a worrier.
Teens and adults shouldn’t fear discussing their condition with a trusted friend, parent or professional. If they don’t feel judged but heard, they have a better chance of opening up. The other choice is to stifle the emotions and unrealistic thoughts, which can compound over time.
For some anxiety sufferers, the fear becomes so severe they stop talking with others or going out in public. I manage to keep those feelings at bay with medication, sleep and binging on Netflix comedies when I feel an episode coming.
“Oh, did you hear Mary Lou had another spell?”
“She did! At Saturday night’s Pinochle game, she excused herself from the table and we didn’t see her again that night.”
“Shh! She might hear you. Talk about embarrassing the family! Although, it’s been said her mother had the vapors too – but you didn’t hear it from me.”
Now if a person suffered from a touch of tuberculosis or botulism few would be ashamed to discuss the diagnosis. Anxiety is a true medical disorder. Stress hormone levels increase so the brain can’t produce the right amount of serotonin and GABA. These are the chemicals that tell the brain to slow down. So you feel like that old egg in the skillet TV commercial where your brain is racing, bubbling and crackling:
This is your brain. This is your brain with drugs. Any questions?
So how is the medical diagnosis of anxiety to be accepted by the world? Sufferers first need to acknowledge they have a problem, then be brave and tell a trusted friend or family member. Hopefully they will suggest counseling and/or possible medication because currently many symptoms can be effectively managed.
If our those in our society keep shunning those with brain and mood disorders, they’re doing a disservice to many spectacular people. Most are smart, creative and bring kindness and sensitivity to our world. And from what’s been happening lately, we all need to take accountability to save more of the kind ones.
Stacey Hatton is grateful for emails and can be reached at LaughingWithKids@yahoo.com.