By Roz Jones
Anxiety disorders are being diagnosed at an increasing rate, and the seriousness of such illnesses is slowly, but surely, being accepted by more people. Such is the novelty of this situation that there are still a number of people who consider such disorders to simply be part of life turned into an illness for the sake of keeping people in a job. Although these people are becoming fewer in number, they still exist in enough places to make anxiety disorders somewhat stigmatized. As caregivers, we must stand up to this stigma and share our truth.
There are two major paths of thought which ridicule the conditions described as “anxiety disorders”. The first attacks the very legitimacy of such conditions, saying that, as they were not diagnosed 20, 50 or 100 years ago, they must be the inventions of the psychiatric trade. The second paints sufferers as being “insane” or “mental”. The latter may be the worse of the two, because it takes an unsophisticated view of certain conditions and applies it to all mental illnesses.
In general, people with anxiety disorders do notwalk around in an unhinged trance muttering to themselves, attack passers by, or attempt suicide at the drop of a hat. They write bestselling novels, fix cars, win Nobel prizes, attend parties, and are even caregivers like us. There is a lot of work to do in order to remind people that this is the case – but it does seem that the tide of momentum is with the sufferers and their advocates.
My fellow caregivers, it is important to be able to speak with courage and without shame about an anxiety disorder. By doing so you can show people that you are “perfectly normal,” whatever that means. I know, it should not be necessary, but some people still have to be reminded.