I hope you all had a fantastic first week of 2011.
It’s Fearless Friday and I’m very excited to announce that I just launched an online support group for anyone struggling with an anxiety disorder. When I sat down with Heather Dawson a couple weeks ago for my interview on California Life, she asked me what advice I had for others who may be suffering with an anxiety disorder. Of course, the obvious suggestion is to seek professional help. Beyond that, I was reminded how much it meant for me to talk with other people who had gone through similar experiences – to learn that I wasn’t alone.
I didn’t know that anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults, or that nearly 40 million adults suffer from an anxiety disorder. Along those lines, the purpose of this new online site – You’re Not Alone, Anxiety Disorder Support Group – is to provide a safe and private space to share and interact with others who have suffered from or are currently struggling with an anxiety disorder.
I recently read a fantastic memoir, Mentor, and in it, the author’s close friend describes what it felt like when he had what he referred to as a nervous breakdown. He said, “My condition became my life, and in those days there were neither pills nor any appropriate theoretical models of brain function to help explain what was going on. I could only, out of shame and great effort, hide the inner turmoil, put on a mask of normalcy and soldier through one day at a time. It was a close thing, a very close thing.”
Fortunately, these days, we do have a much better grasp on what is going on inside our heads. We also know how very common anxiety disorders are in society. They do not mean we are weak or crazy. To the contrary, some of the most accomplished, successful Americans – Abraham Lincoln, John Steinbeck, Oprah Winfrey, Eric Clapton, to name a few – have struggled with an anxiety disorder. This new group, is place to let down our armor and share what we have learned as well as to seek support on the days when we need to be reminded, we are not alone.