Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone else noticed how much anxiety is featuring in the press lately? Being a closet anxiety sufferer (until now) I was naturally drawn to any mention in the press about anxiety. Firstly, this was to see if anyone else was going through what I was going through and secondly to see how the media and the public would react to it to see if I could justify my secrecy.
Over the last few weeks I’ve read that Zayn Malik announced to the world he was suffering with anxiety after he cancelled concerts last-minute. What I love is that while there was some speculation and some negativity around it online, he said that overwhelmingly he felt so much love and support and was contacted by so many fans who also suffer from anxiety, that it blew him away on how common it was!
A few weeks before that, Selena Gomez came out that she was also suffering panic attacks and anxiety after she was diagnosed with lupus. Adele is well-known for her anxiety and stage fright, and then more recently Kim Kardashian came out this week that she’s suffering with anxiety after the Paris ordeal – as much as I want to be a little skeptical on that one, someone coming out to the world saying they suffer from anxiety is tough enough as it is and shouldn’t be judged.
The list goes on with celebrities and sports stars suffering from anxiety, but what I love is how open the public are (for the most part)! I’ve lived my entire life being ashamed of having these anxious experiences. I was scared it was seen as a weakness, that I would be suddenly unemployable or discriminated against, or that my friends wouldn’t want to hang out with me because I was different. But there is actually nothing to be afraid of! More often than not people come out with overwhelming support and consideration, and the fear of being judged really isn’t justified.
In fact, anxiety has been increasing in recent years. Naturally, being a digital media nerd I did a little google research and found that searches around anxiety keywords have gradually doubled over the last 5 years!
Alarmingly, my hometown Australia had the highest search volume for terms around anxiety, followed my America, Canada, Ireland and then finally the UK.
I find this REALLY interesting as people seem to view and stereotype Aussies as easy-going, laid back, happy and stress-free individuals, yet we have the highest search terms around anxiety? I did a little more digging and according to the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey in 2015, Aussies are in fact more anxious that ever and are reporting lower levels of general/workplace wellbeing and higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety symptoms.
Young people aged 18-25 experience the lowest level of wellbeing compared to older Australians. The insights into the causes for this are generally around financial stress, family issues and issues with the health of those close to us, but then also anxiety around personal health and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle also fell into the top five reasons!
I can’t help but wonder that there might be some kind of correlation with the pressures of social media and the increase in stress and anxiety around maintaining a healthy lifestyle?!? After all, Instagram and Pinterest both launched in 2010 which have propelled the perfectly curated, aspirational lifestyle into the limelight over the last 6 years! I really have nothing to base that on at the moment as that’s purely speculation, however I think I will be looking into that more for future posts!
Regardless of what’s creating our cumulative anxiousness, the thing I’ve taken from my own experiences and what I’ve observed from the press and other celebrities coming out, is that we all suffer from varying levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Some maybe experience it worse than others but that shouldn’t make it any more of a reason to be ashamed of it. Talking about it with the same likeness of what you’ll be having for dinner or what you did on the weekend is a huge weight off your shoulders, because it takes away the power of stigmatisation and normalises it.
There is so much support and love out there for all of us, so don’t get discouraged by the few negative nancys who maybe don’t understand, because there will be twenty others who can sympathise with you, know what you’re going through and cheer you on from the sidelines.