Monday, May 20, 2013

Anxiety awareness: oh, the things I get myself into...

Photo by Bing Shui, from apps.carleton.edu/events/tedx/
Yesterday I was officially invited to speak at the TEDx talks at Carleton College on October 12th! I will be working on my first draft of the full speech this month, then I guess we go from there (there are speech buddies and TED coaches... it's a real thing, man) I will be talking about anxiety and panic attacks, drawing from my own experiences as somebody with the glamourous anxiety disorder OCD. I'll also be drawing from YOU. One major reason I had the courage (or poor judgement, jury's still out) to audition in the first place was all the amazing connections I've made with people since I started to talk about this stuff here on my blog.

Having an anxiety disorder can feel so lonely at times. There's so much pressure to just suck it up and get over it (whatever it is). How many times have we heard "don't worry about it" and felt like that was impossible? If you start listening for it, it's amazing how often people are told how they should feel. Don't be nervous. Don't feel bad. Don't be shy. Cheer up. Calm down. How about shut up? Most people mean well, I'm sure. But to somebody like me, these "helpful" bits of advice sound more like "you're just not trying hard enough." And that can hurt. It can also drive us anxiety-having slackers further underground. (it reminds me of the scene in X-Men when Iceman's parents ask, "have you tried not being a mutant?" even though I know the whole thing was an allegory for being gay, not crazy)

This all is to say, that part of doing this talk will be to raise awareness of what having an anxiety disorder really feels like, from the physical and emotional pain of a real panic attack, to the social struggles of trying to get those around us to understand that we don't choose to be anxious any more than people choose to get cancer. And hopefully through that embolden more people to speak out about their own struggles. Because we aren't alone. There's actually kind of a shit ton of us.


16 comments:

  1. I hope you're going to post a video of this talk so we can watch it.

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  2. I agree... I hope there is a video to watch!! I admire your courage to get up there and do this talk!! Good luck!!

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  3. Hi, Alison -- I believe TED requires TEDx organizers to record and post their talks, just as TED records their own annual talks in Long Beach, in the spirit of ideas worth spreading™. I know all the TEDx events I've attended [and volunteered at] have simulcast, recorded, and posted their talks.

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    1. yes, I believe you are correct (although for a second I thought that said something about long walks on the beach and I was really hoping TED would give me one of those too. ;)

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  4. I have a small OCD issue. I count everything. The tiles in the ceiling. The number of cars in a parking lot. My steps when I walk. I never stops.

    I am also addressing the award you passed my way in my next post.

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    1. oh yes, the counting. Luckily the meds I take almost eliminate the small compulsions like that. Almost. ;)

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  5. Congrats! I can't wait to hear it.

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  6. I can't come to the actual talk since I'm flying out to watch my nephew while his parents run a marathon that weekend. However, I am available if you want to practice on me! I used to help my best friend study for tests with one drink each and have been told I'm really helpful at organizing other people's thoughts.

    I also have been struggling with some anxiety lately although mine results in the inability to make any decisions for a couple of days. I can cope but I'm having to figure out creative ways like making my daughter tell me what I'm putting in her lunchbox today. Deciding what to pack/clean next or what I'm feeding myself for lunch are hard if not impossible. I don't think it's dangerous anxiety since I can still do no-brainers like putting out the trash and getting my kids to and from school but it still worries me. Wait does that mean I'm getting anxiety about my anxiety?

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    1. I get really anxious about practicing, but I guess I'll really need to get over that, won't I.

      Anxiety over choice is really hard. When I'm in a bad place mentally getting dressed really, really stresses me out. I've totally had Kaylee pick out my outfits before. Luckily she seems to love it most of the time (although once she was fed up with me and said "why do I need to help you pick all the time?" I think I wore jeans and a Mac sweatshirt that day. It's my fallback.

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  7. Panic attacks are no fun. Especially while driving. :( Fortunately, I haven't had any for a long time.

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    1. YES, driving through a panic attack is so scary. :(

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  8. That's awesome! Congratulations!! Look forward to hopefully seeing the video of the talk!

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