The NHS definition of addiction is: ‘Not having control over doing, taking or using something…
Every one of us is vulnerable and insecure. Anxiety is a normal and healthy part of life. If we didn’t take risks we wouldn’t be able to engage in love or to strive to achieve anything. Healthy stress can be an impetus for growth. I felt stressed about going on live radio – but also knew it would be good for me and would help me grow! But there are times when anxiety becomes overwhelming or disabling. This may occur after a particularly distressing event or crisis, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job; or it may have been building for some time, only to be triggered by a seemingly small event. Sometimes anxiety affects your relationships, work or school life; you may have difficulties with sleeping or eating patterns; or lose interest in the sorts of activities you would normally enjoy.
Anxiety can also present itself in physical symptoms such as digestive problems, racing heart beat, chronic fatigue, migraine etc. You should see your GP first to have any physical causes ruled out, but these can be signals which we should pay attention to, telling us that something in our life needs to be addressed or changed. Seeking therapy is a sign of strength and self-responsibility. I myself have had therapy and not just because it was an important part of my training, but also at times in my life which were difficult or when I felt at a difficult crossroads.
So, if you are struggling with anxiety, it’s OK to admit to yourself that you may have a problem which requires professional help. Then tell someone you trust. It may be that you contact your GP first, a trusted friend or colleague, or start looking for a reputable therapist privately.
Seeking help and having therapy is not a sign of weakness or failure, in fact quite the opposite; it requires courage to face our fears and insecurities and be honest about how we really feel. This step can be the most loving thing you can do, not only for yourself, but for those who are close to you.
By: Wendy Bramham, May 2013
for BBC Wiltshire series on mental health
Over the next few days we’ll be blogging with more information about treatments for anxiety, how therapy works and what types of help are out there. And we’re always keen to hear others’ experience. Wendy will be on BBC Radio Wiltshire again on 3 July, talking about self-harm and eating disorders.