wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Group support – team mental!

When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, I was hungry for information and a connection to others. There’s nothing scarier than feeling alone (apart from maybe feeling as though someone is hiding in the wardrobe.. I checked, it was cool).
In an emotional moment I made the mistake of looking at online forums. Dear God that was an error! I may as well have typed “I’d like to feel even more depressed about my life,” into google. Forums can be incredibly useful for many things; Restaurant reviews, the best way to get grease out of a shirt.. but NOT for mental health advice. Others might disagree with this, but it’s an opinion I’m unlikely to change.

So what’s my beef? The lack of context and clean up. Of course, freedom of speech is a good thing.. but it can also be damaging, particularly to a fragile individual who already thinks that her life is over!

A prime example:

“I started having panic attacks three years ago. I quit my job and my girlfriend left me. I never leave the house and I have no friends. Panic attacks have ruined my life and sometimes I wish I could die.” Bob32

Now as much as I respect Bob’s right to talk about his troubles, I feel like it would’ve been better directed at a doctor, professional or a charity. Anxiety UK and Mind both have helplines. Instead, this statement was left in cyber space for me to read and feel even more hopeless about my condition.

Looking back at that comment today, I noticed it was actually written eighteen months before I even read it. So it was already out of date. Who knows what happened to Bob? He could’ve got the help he needed and is now living a happy life. But his words of misery will forever remain on the forum, waiting for other suffers to read. My point is, forums can be incredibly damaging to others. They’re rarely encouraging, but instead packed with tales of broken dreams and a reliance of strong medications. Some even appear competitive, e.g. ‘you think your life is bad? Well listen to this!’

However, despite my opinions I do think it’s important for people with anxiety to talk about it with others. Nobody quite understands like another suffer.
I’m also a big fan of peer mentoring – recovery through talking, listening and acting.

Therefore, I’ve decided to start a Facebook group. It’s an experiment for now, but if others find it useful then I’m happy to keep it open. Reading back through comments on my blog I think it would great for readers to connect with each other. So many of you have shared excellent tips and advice!

Obviously only join if you feel comfortable, there’s no pressure. Everything is also 100% private, (I won’t be tagging anyone in posts)! What happens in the group, stays in the group… unless someone confesses to being Jack the Ripper incarnate.

Feel free to vent about awkward social situations, discuss medication and therapy, or just say hello. More serious topics can also be accommodated, so don’t hold back. However, I would ask that members don’t repeat the same rant every other day without seeking help, as this can be harmful.

I would love all my readers to join 🙂 – I think that together we can really support each other. (This includes me too, as some days I need to fall apart or freak out)!





Categories: Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety

4 replies

  1. Hi Claire

    I had a slightly different view on this one. Not sure i’d be here now if it wasn’t for online forums.

    When I first had OCD I was scared silly. I used to have obsessional thoughts and was too scared to go to a doctor in case I got locked up! Going online and researching it, on forums in particular, got me to a diagnosis. For the first time in 5 years (I suffered without mentioning it to anyone for this long) I wasn’t scared

    So I guess we all have slightly different stories. In the main though get where you’re coming from – fewer people who get better right about it online…

    Will join the Facebook group. Can’t currently as I’ve given Facebook up for lent!


    • Hi Andy 🙂 I’m glad that forums were useful for you. I’ve never thought about it from that perspective.
      Given up FB for lent? You’re a strong man!

      • Hey there, my name is Jaylan and I’m 19 years old. A couple of weeks ago I’ve experienced I’m assuming an anxiety attack by what I was told by my aunt because she suffers from them. Anyway I was in college at the time and unfortunately doing something I probably shouldn’t have done. I smoked marijuana but the way I smoked it out of my roommate’s bong hurt my chest. I was ok until I started to feel weird like I was going crazy, my heart was racing and I felt dizzy and didn’t feel myself. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs to think positive and I haven’t really had any attacks since that night. It’s like I managed to keep from panicking although I kind of worry every now and then and still experience the symptoms like dizziness, headaches and sometimes hard to focus. I’ve even took an anxiety test online to see how severe it was and I know it probably wasn’t as accurate but it told me my case of “anxiety” wasn’t severe at all. I really feel like I can overcome it even though I haven’t went to the doctor for it or taken meds for it. I feel that meds will only make it worse and I have to just fight it on my own by thinking positive and not really paying any mind to it or deal with it. I still kind of worry about some things that aren’t that serious Like if I have pain in my leg or something I tend to think of the worse case but only for a few minutes. I tell myself I’m kind of glad it happened to me so I could stop smoking as I was saying I needed to stop but actually having the symptoms and that feeling sucks. I remember years ago I was depressed and probably experienced this same thing and realized that I no longer felt depressed or anxiety anymore so I still believe that i can get healthy again slowly and patiently. I still go out with friends and be active and it’s like my anxiety is not even there. It’ll creep up on me throughout the day. I just want see if my case of anxiety is weak enough to overcome soon and get full control over my life again and a little support as I support those whose case is way more severe than mine. Thank you

  2. Hi Claire,

    Your post is fantastic! As a psychiatrist, I’m sure that you’re helping a lot of readers and followers. I’m following you on twitter 😉

    I totally agree with you: “freedom of speech is a good thing,but it can also be damaging, particularly to a fragile individual who already thinks that his life is over!”

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