wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Do It Right!

On Tuesday I appeared in New magazine, (page 75 if you’re interested.) No sadly I’m not naked.. maybe next time.
An editor contacted me a few months ago, just after The Guardian feature was published. She explained that New wanted to write an article about panic attacks and was hoping that I’d like to be involved.  Initially I was nervous, but the topic is really close to my heart and I was ultimately happy to oblige. She pitched it as an ‘informative piece’ in which sufferers and experts would share coping techniques and experience.

In reality, the article is quite a depressing read. My section is around 50% factually inaccurate and portrays me as a victim, at least in my opinion. I felt that the whole thing was poorly organised and badly done, (but that’s gossip magazines I suppose.)

Just to clarify a few things:

–          I’m quite an introverted person and found school stressful.  False – I actually said that my anxiety probably began at school, but it didn’t start to affect me until I was fifteen. I didn’t say anything about finding school stressful.

–          When I moved to London last year. False – I moved nearly three years ago.

–          I had another attack in a meeting after which I was forced to take a month off work. False – I have nothing else to say to this except WTF? Not true and wasn’t said.

To be honest, none of the above mistakes would’ve bothered me that much if the article was actually well written and informative.

There was a real opportunity to write a positive and educational piece, instead I found it to be sub standared and lacking. (Or complete shite if you will.)

Now I’m not usually one to argue with an expert, but on this occasion I bloody will because he’s wrong. The main section of the article focuses on a Dr Drayton. In fairness to the man he may have been misquoted in the same way that I was, so I won’t exercise the full extent of my wrath… YET.

Try tactical breathing. Breath in as slowly and as deeply as you can and hold your breath for 5 seconds.

Excellent suggestion in theory, but he’s missed out a few crucial details.

  1. Exhale first, as this will relax your muscles and prevent them from seizing up.
  2. Breath using your stomach rather than your chest. You get twice as much oxygen this way and it prevents hyperventilation. For visual guidance please visit; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRIV2R3jzaQ – David Carbonell knows his stuff!

If the cure for panic attacks was simply ‘taking a few deep breaths’ then EUREKA we’d all be experts! The truth is, it’s not what you do but how you do it. Breathing is the key, but it’s important to understand why it’s so effective and how to do it correctly. Otherwise you’ll become more and more distressed if it doesn’t ease the symptoms, which can lead to disillusion.

The article also mentions celebrities who supposedly suffer from panic attacks. This puzzled me… How is that helpful really? I’m not an impressionable child who gets excited by reading that Britney Spears uses the same toilet roll as me, (actually I adore Britney, so this would excite me.) Adele was mentioned because she often gets attacks before performing. Then again, Adele is worth millions and can probably pay a psychiatrist to hold her hand 24/7 if needed. Thus not a comfort to the common man. I have to hold my own hand!

Perhaps I’m being too critical/a complete bitch? Maybe the article is a positive step towards losing the stigma often associated with mental disorders. Am I blowing this out of proportion? Possibly. I can be very protective when something is important to me.

Anxiety seems to be trending in the media at the moment which on the one hand is great, but on the other could be potentially quite damaging. Mental health isn’t a fad like; yoga, Robert Pattinson or The Great British Bake off (I’m sorry Mary, I do love you.) It needs to be approached with solid research, patience and understanding. Ultimately a few hundred words isn’t nearly enough to investigate. If you’re going to do it then do it right. (No, I’m not quoting George Michael!)

Apologies if anyone was offended by my wrath this week…

Categories: Anxiety

Tags: , ,

5 replies

  1. This is so dissapointing about this article, particularily as I thought the Guardian feature was really interesting and useful and ultimately led me here to your blog (which has inspired me to blog as a way to try and understand my own anxiety). I wanted to ask how you managed to cope with your anxiety through both of your degrees? I’m currently repeating my final year of university because of my anxiety, and I am finding it really tough. I’d love to hear about your experience if you are open to sharing it? Thanks! Jazz

    • Hi Jazz, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a tough time. Particularly when you’re trying to study.
      To be honest during university I didn’t get help, I ignored it (which was the worst thing to do.) So first of all well done for admitting that you’re struggling, it’s really brave of you.
      If you haven’t already done so then I’d recommend going to see your GP to talk about treatment options. I’d also have a look at http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/ – they have a helpline and lots of useful info. Cardio exercise is good to burn off adrenalin and get those ‘good’ hormones flowing. Finally, I’d recommend a course of CBT (anxiety UK can help you out with this.)
      If you read all my blog posts I’m pretty that I cover a lot of things… not that I’m plugging it! You just might find it useful.. and it’s free!
      Keep blogging yourself too.. it’s good to get it out.

      Take care of yourself X

      • I have already read all your blogs, and they’ve been so great, it’s helpful to hear about someone else’s experience. Also great to see you spreading the word about what it’s like to be a sufferer. Thanks so much for your reply. I’ve been exercising loads more this year and it’s been helpful, and I’m headed to my GP next week to talk about CBT. I also think I’ll pass on your post saying to friends/family of people who suffer from anxiety how to understand it. x

  2. This is bad. It’s not nice for you and it’s counterproductive for their readers. Have you complained? I think you should. It may be worth complaining to the publisher too. You probably won’t get much if any satisfaction but the idea that people are misinformed on breathing is actually quite concerning. I would make that your focus. I also would be tempted to contact the doctor to suggest that they complain as well. Good luck if you do.
    All this aside – the main point to focus on is that it’s bullshit like this that increases the need for more bloggers like you to set the record straight. We *need* your voice. Bravo lady. You keep up the good fight x

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