““How come every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy, except your brain?” – (Wax, 2012)
Anxiety disorders are associated with a range of unpleasant symptoms, starting anywhere from excessive worry; hyper-vigilance; avoidance; emotional distress and tension; faulty and irrational thinking to physical anxiety reactions (Arcvic.org.au, 2014). As someone who has been diagnosed with acute anxiety myself, this issue is quite close to home and being unable to base the assignment around myself, I asked a close friend of mine to talk about her similar experiences with the disorder.
There is a massive stigma around invisible illnesses, and as such I was only able to find one talent for my assignment. Sophia Anna (2012) writer for lipmag.com says that “something as important as a genetic disorder or a respiratory condition we have trouble acknowledging, because it is not accompanied by a walking aid or a severe rash“. A lot of people who suffer from anxiety often hide their symptoms because they’re embarrassed or ashamed of how they feel, they don’t want to admit that what they’re experiencing is really happening for fear of being outcasted and misunderstood, Anna goes on to say “It is a sad day for society when we do not recognise suffering as a worthwhile cause for compassion“.
Since the age of 13 Beth has been at the receiving end of fear, low self-esteem, depression, panic attacks and anxiety. She is now 21 year of age, and all of this had been undiagnosed until only early last year. The people around her have had trouble understanding what she is going through and why, because the illness seems so irrational, and often times there is no reason for the thoughts or feelings you experience during an attack and finding the right network of support or even just somebody to listen can be difficult and terrifying.
Being only able to talk to her mum who tried hard to understand what her daughter was going through, she reflects how “everybody else seemed so normal and I wasn’t and I couldn’t talk to anybody else, I didn’t want them to think that I was crazy“.
Promoting an issue like this is always necessary, even if finding people willing to talk about it is difficult. Although I might be one person less off a high mark Beth’s story speaks for itself, It still raises important concerns and it still asks people to listen and that awareness is ultimately what I was aiming for.
Anna S 2012, But, you don’t look sick! The stigma behind invisible illness | Features | LIp Magazine, lip magazine, viewed 10 November 2014 <http://lipmag.com/uncategorised/but-you-dont-look-sick-the-stigma-behind-invisible-illness/>
Arcvic.org.au 2014, What is Anxiety, viewed 10 November 2014, <https://www.arcvic.org.au/what-is-anxiety>
Wax R 2012, Transcript of “What’s so funny about mental illness?”, Ted.com, viewed 10 November 2014 <http://www.ted.com/talks/ruby_wax_what_s_so_funny_about_mental_illness/transcript?language=en>