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I have been thinking about Fear and how it dominates our press and the affect this has on the anxious.

 

If you are an anxious person then you will be well acquainted with fear.  Any campaign designed to alert us to have a mammogram, (fear of cancer), wear our seatbelts (fear of crashing), be alert to strange unattached parcels in public places (fear of terrorism), eat the right food and exercise regularly (fear of obesity and/or death), recycle our rubbish (fear of global warming), get in stocks of canned food (fear of bird flu), use the correct moisturiser (fear of aging),  will no doubt succeed and send  the anxious out to get the next mammogram or buy out the local supermarket of canned goods.  I find myself avoiding this type of media activity as it feeds my fear, but then of course I fear that I am merely burying my head in the sand .  I can’t win!  I also wonder if the people that these types of campaigns are wanting to target ie those who don’t know about these issues, or don’t care – still don’t know or don’t care?  The only people watching and listening are the anxious (who know all about this stuff already…!)

 

So, how do I try and deal with this overload of fearful information?

  • I only listen to commercial radio in the mornings and save the “real” news for later in the day when I am awake and lucid.  Waking to endless bad news cannot be good for you.
  • I prefer to read the news rather than watch or listen.  I find TV news unbearable, it is designed for the few second sound bite, contains little information and a whole lot of fear.
  • I find talking about what I have heard is helpful. Hopefully someone will be able to challenge some of this information, and might put a different perspective on things.
  • If it all becomes too much I’ll turn everything off and have a news holiday and read a trashy book, or go to a feel good movie – anything that helps take me away from news and gloom overload.
  • Every now and then I will congratulate myself on the fact that I am a responsible person and doing the best that I can. 
  • Sometimes it helps to find out more information, and not just to take what I have heard or read about as gospel.  I believe that information can ease anxiety and help get things into perspective.  (Although you have to be careful with this one as this can lead to a certain obession which isn’t always helpful either).

It is of course important to be careful, to be alert and to be aware of our environment, our health and our political climate.  However, if like me, you are inclined towards the anxious then it is also important to look after yourself – it is all too easy to become overwhelmed.

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I have become interested lately in the use of the term “Hypochondria” and have done a bit of trawling on the Internet to find out how we use this word.    I have noticed that a lot of the Blogs on this subject are funny.  You know – you go to the doctor with suspected ( and probably absolute) cancer/heart disease/ near death and find out that it is nothing to be concerned about, and everyone has a good laugh. 

 

Movies and TV also enjoy using hypochondria for a few quick laughs.  Woody Allen has made a specialty of it, there is the resident hypochondriac on the TV sitcom “Scrubs”, and even children’s animated movies have had a go, for example “Madagascar”. 

 

Now you may be thinking that I’m being just a bit overly serious, but I notice that I don’t use the term of  hypochondriac to describe myself, and  I prefer to say that I suffer from a “Health Anxiety”.  However, if a hypochondriac is someone who has an “abnormal anxiety about one’s health” (Oxford Concise Dictionary), then that’s me!  I’m wondering that if we continue to see a hypochondriac as someone to make fun of,  then it makes it even harder for sufferers to get the help and support that we all need.

 

In the end however, whatever term you use, the most important thing as always, is to get this help and support – only then can you regain a sense of humour!

 

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." -- Mark Twain

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