The Unfortunate Shame of Anxiety Disorders

Tired of being shamed about your anxiety problems? Me too!
Tired of being shamed about your anxiety problems? Me too! | Source

It is estimated that about four million people in the United States alone have anxiety disorders. To be honest, I imagine it's even higher than that, but not everyone seeks help, so they aren't counted in the results, so to speak. I am one of the four million and tired of living in shame of having this debilitating disorder. Most people who have one live with some degree of shame about it.

The reason for this is that the rest of society, the ones lucky enough not to suffer from this, make us feel like we are crazy, weak, abnormal, immature, lazy, emotionally weak...the list goes on and on. They say things like "buck up" or "just get a grip." If we could we would, it's that simple. Believe me, no one with this disorder wants to live this way.

I have suffered from this on and off my entire life and it's only been the last few years that I've opened up and admitted it to people. However, I have since regretted that. A person who I thought was a good friend told me it was a weakness and I just had to grow up. We are no longer friends.

Others have just smiled and shook their heads at me when I tried to explain what it was all about. Like it was just some crazy thing they couldn't comprehend. I do understand that if you've never had something, it's hard to fully grasp it, but when people say they have cancer, no one treats them in a bad way. They might not have cancer, but they can empathize with the person who does.

I know anxiety disorders are hard to understand but, come on people, at least open up your mind a little and try. I thought it had become a more common topic that wasn't meant to be hidden in the shadows anymore, but apparently not. My recent experiences have made me wish I'd never said anything, except to the very few who had it too and understood.

It makes me angry that people are so careless in their reactions to anything to do with mental health. There are so many illnesses that are listed under the mental health title that have nothing to do with being crazy, but that get that reaction because it's under "mental health."

People who suffer from anxiety are not crazy, lazy, weak or any of the other things people call them. They have a health problem and it deserves the same respect as any other health issue. If you know someone who has this and you care anything at all about them, please at least read up on it. With the Internet, you can find plenty of information explaining the disorder and giving advice on how to help them.

I beg you to do this because you have no idea how much harm your words and actions can do to them. Making someone feel shame for something they can't help having is terrible. We are already feeling abnormal and all sorts of exhausting emotions. We need compassion and understanding more than you know. Besides, with the stress we all are dealing with these days, you may join the other four million. So knowing something about it can help both you and the other person.

To all of the fellow anxiety sufferers out there, don't be ashamed. You are fine and not alone.

Anxiety sites with great information!

http://www.anxietyslayer.com/

http://www.panicend.com/

http://www.anxietycoach.com/

Feeling ashamed of your anxiety disorder? Don't!
Feeling ashamed of your anxiety disorder? Don't! | Source

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8 comments

bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Hi Catgypsy.

I suffer on and off from Anxiety too, you are not alone as you well know. I can relate to everything I have just read and realise that I too have felt shame in a deep seated way because there are times I can´t cope. Those who have never experienced a panic attack or constant worry out of control have no idea just how terrible it makes you feel and as you say if we could pull ourselves together we would do it in an instant. I hate it when I tell people I need or am taking medication to help me get through episodes and I get the " Oh you don´t want to be taking those things" response. Don´t they take something for a headache or a cold ? I now refuse to let anyone make me feel somehow inferior because there are times I can´t cope with all the stress in my life and tell people when I am struggling, Many of them don´t have a clue about just how bad I feel, but some do and that helps. I have some books by Dr Claire Weekes. She has probably been dead for a long time now but her books on anxiety and stress related disorders are wonderful. They are written in a bit of an old fashioned way I suppose by todays standards, but they remind me of being talked to by the type of doctors I knew when I was a kid and she really does help take the fear out of the symptoms of panic and anxiety by fully explaining them and also gives really good explanations on how to cope in the midst of it all. Maybe you could get a copy of some of her work and it would help you. I´m sending a big hug your way cat from one sufferer to another and a big thank you for publishing this hub too, it´s time the word was out that some of us may not cope so well at times but that doesn´t make us aliens.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

I, too, have suffered for many years from an anxiety disorder. I choose to simply say that I am having health problems when there are times that I have difficulty. Rather than deal with the fall out of telling others that I have emotional or mental health problems. My close friends and family are well aware of my condition, but even then, I am the one who has to make sure that my needs are met, no one else does that for me. I have had to learn to say "No" and set limits for myself to keep from being over stressed. I also have to watch the type of environment I am in as well. Life gets even more interesting as I get older, and other things become confounded with it.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

I, too, have suffered for many years from an anxiety disorder. I choose to simply say that I am having health problems when there are times that I have difficulty. Rather than deal with the fall out of telling others that I have emotional or mental health problems. My close friends and family are well aware of my condition, but even then, I am the one who has to make sure that my needs are met, no one else does that for me. I have had to learn to say "No" and set limits for myself to keep from being over stressed. I also have to watch the type of environment I am in as well. Life gets even more interesting as I get older, and other things become confounded with it.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 3 years ago from the South Author

bac2basics, thank you for our comment. I have two of Claire Weekes books and actually there's one recommended in my Amazon capsule up there. She is the true pioneer, I think, of anxiety disorders. Most of the sites that are good are based on her advice too.

Thanks for the hug and right back at ya! I know what you mean about the medication and people putting it down. The problem I'm having is that my meds, which always worked in the past, are not working so great now. And I think my anxiety is so bad this time that it's just too much for the meds, if that makes any sense!

I just went through a tremendous stress period (I lost my brother very unexpectedly and he was the last of my family. So I am alone for the first time in my life and it's so scary. Then a month ago, his ex-girlfriend, who was my best friend for forty years, passed away too). It's all crashing down on me and I'm trying desperately to cope, but not doing so great. And no, going to my doctor won't help...too long to explain that here. I think I have to find that golden key to changing my thinking and I'm working hard on that. In fact, have to read my Claire Weekes books again!

Thanks again and I wish you peace.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 3 years ago from the South Author

Denise, you are so right that you have to take care of yourself because no one else can do that for you. It does help to have a support system and that's all we really ask for is some understanding and support, not that they cure us! For years I used the health problems excuse and I think it's the best thing to do with most people. It's just too hard to see those disgraceful reactions from people sometimes!

So glad you dropped by and thanks for commenting. Take care.


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Dear cat.

There´s no wonder you are struggling so much having lost 2 dear family members so suddenly. Grief brings it´s own roller coaster of a ride and if you can just try to accept whatever it throws your way as a normal part of the grieving process this may help calm your fears that the meds aren´t working, eventually the grieving will become more bearable and you will start to feel better. You are not alone cat, you may be without family but you are certainly not without friends. For the moment try to endure what you must and enjoy what you can, you will get through this, we all do. Sending another big hug your way and hoping for calmer times for you soon.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 3 years ago from the South Author

bac3basics, thank you so much. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm dealing with grief, anxiety and depression and no wonder I'm such a mess. I'm plugging along trying to cope with all the problems the anxiety is causing as best as I can. Thanks again for your kind words. Another big hug back to you!


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago

I had a seratonin deficiency out of whack once; I've been treated (thank goodness for hollistic doctors) but OMG the anxiety attacks were a nightmare-- totally uncontrollable and nothing but shame afterwards even though you knew you couldn't help them. Nice hub-- everyone should read this.

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