The stigma around mental illness is very much alive today and with this stigma comes falsehoods, misconceptions and myths. Words like “crazy” or “psycho” are thrown around casually. Phrases such as “I’m so depressed” and “I’d kill myself if that happened” are so common they have lost their meaning. All this does is further ostracize those that suffer from mental illness. When it comes to anxiety and anxiety disorders, there are countless myths that minimize the severity of this mental illness.
Whether a person suffers from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or any of the other dozens of mental illnesses, know that they’re very real indeed. There’s a reason these disorders are called “illnesses” and “diseases”. Depression is just as real as a broken arm and anxiety is just as real as a cancer. Brushing off mental illness as “fake” is not only offensive, it’s down right inaccurate.
This statement is true to an extent. Anxiety and stress are felt everyday by almost everyone. In fact, anxiety is our most common motivator. As we encounter stress in our daily life, anxiety develops as a motivator to lessen that stress.
Anxiety is common and normal but there’s a huge difference between regular anxiety and mental illness anxiety. When anxiety becomes prolonged and so severe it impacts ones daily life, that’s when someone might have an anxiety disorder. When it’s the more severe, mental illness anxiety, reducing stress won’t relieve it and it likely won’t just go away on it’s own.
Avoiding a situation to try to runaway from anxiety is not only not recommended, it’s highly unlikely that someone will be able to avoid every situation that causes them fear or stress. Running away from potentially anxiety inducing situation can lead people to feel even more fragile and lessen their confidence in their ability to cope. Both of these things can actually increase the strength of ones anxiety.
There’s also the fact that for most people who suffer from anxiety disorders, it’s not a single place, action or situation that causes them anxiety. It’s often varied and complex. Bottom line, avoiding anxiety-provoking situations just isn’t reasonable.
This statement may be true for regular anxiety but when it comes to mental illness the chances of the anxiety magically disappearing on it’s own is slim. While a person can get through an anxiety induced panic attack or a stint of anxiety, the actual anxiety hasn’t really gone away. Anxiety can come and go like waves and while people can usually wade through one wave the more that hit them the less likely they are to be able to handle it. Addressing the anxiety and seeking help are the only ways stop it from returning and to truly make it go away. Leaving it alone will not make it go away.
Oh boy, while alcohol can have short-term results when it comes to anxiety it actually only makes it worse in the long run. Drinking to avoid one’s mental illness is called self-medicating and it can lead to alcohol and drug addiction. These self-medicating methods become a way for people to escape their anxiety instead of actually dealing with it. This means that when a person stops drinking or becomes sober the reality of dealing with their mental illness is even harder to face. Not to mention, alcohol is a depressant and the come down from it and other self-medicating drugs can actually strengthen and further reinforce anxiety.
It’s time to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness and anxiety disorders. If you or someone you know is suffering from severe anxiety don’t let others brush it off. Seek help and address it. No matter what people say or how many myths about anxiety that is out there, it’s a very real and serious illness that millions of people in the world suffer from.