Are you a young man with anxiety?
Good day! Today I want to talk about something which is very close to my heart and I believe of major importance - anxiety in young people, and more specifically anxiety in young men. I was twenty two when my anxiety crisis began. I’d had scares before, but I thought I was bullet proof. What usually happened was that I’d “get the fear” for a while and after a week or two it would subside and I’d bounce back to being my old courageous and smiling self. I thought this was just the way it went so I really never became anxious about being anxious. I simply assumed that it would pass. As a result I did nothing to tackle my anxiety. In fact, it was more than that. I never really understood what anxiety was, or that I SHOULD do something about it. Not only did I not implement stress reduction measures but I actively pursued interests which were hugely stress-provoking without any recognition that I might be on thin ice. Unfortunately, this was folly. One day the ice gave way, and it took me all of about two seconds to recognise that I was in a gravely serious situation. Something had literally “broken” inside me. It felt like the biggest slap across the face imaginable. Metaphorically, it was a straight knock out! Even then I had absolutely no idea that it would take me a full decade to get well again, and with it being my twenties that was a pretty important decade to lose! And I did lose it. I wasn’t living. I was barely surviving, and I wanted to be dead.
When I wrote my book “Anxiety Relief”, I wrote it for anyone who suffers with stress, panic, or anxiety, but upon reflection I realise that the person I really had in mind primarily as I poured my heart onto the page was a twenty two year old version of myself. I wanted to spare him the unfathomably torturous ordeal he was about to endure. Of course, for him it was too late, but I could still reach others like him. I thought therefore that it would be a no-brainer that anxious young men would show an interest in receiving my message, but the World has thrown me a curve ball. According to my advertising feedback, young men don’t seem interested! Now please forgive me for what is a kind of obvious “ploy” at face value to appeal to a demographic who aren’t buying anxiety help books. I’ll be straight with you. Yes, I want more young men to buy my book, but this isn’t entirely selfish. I want more young men to buy my book because I know that it has the potential to save them a whole truck load of trouble. That's why I wrote it in the first place. Early recognition and early treatment could mean that acute breakdown (with all of the repercussions this brings in later life) is avoided, and perhaps more importantly that those negative feelings and thoughts don’t have time to get their feet under the table and make themselves at home!
As I write, I’m still a one to one therapist. I meet people who have been anxious for years. Without question it’s more difficult to resolve the difficulty when it wasn’t treated properly early. Despite many half-hearted attempts at therapy, I myself never got the right therapy early enough and I became one of these people. The simple fact is that negative patterns of thought and feeling can embed themselves in our lives and become the norm, with all the misery that entails. That’s one of the factors that made my own recovery journey so long and so arduous. I know I could have saved myself so much pain if I’d had access to the information and understanding I needed at an earlier point.
I’ve been pondering on this seeming lack of interest in self help from young anxious men for a while, and I’ve discussed it with my wisest colleagues. Are young men too lazy to read? Do they have trouble parting with £3 for the book? No. That’s not it. We’ve narrowed it down to a few points.
1) Anxious young men sometimes don’t recognise that they are anxious.
2) They haven’t taken the issue seriously enough yet to know that something needs to be done about it.
3) Many men see anxiety as a weakness and are afraid to ‘fess up that there’s a problem.
4) They think it will just go away if they ignore it.
5) They think they can do it all on their own (male pride).
6) They still have teenage style strength and resilience and believe that super power will last forever. (It doesn't I'm afraid!)
7) They don’t “believe” anyone can actually help.
There may be other reasons. These seem like good candidates to begin with.
As you may know, more men die by suicide than women. In the West, it’s a ratio of approximately 3.5/1 respectively. The most often cited reason is that men are more “action orientated”. Evidently women consider suicide more often than men but men are far more likely to actually do it. This suggests that they take such action with less consideration than Women do. Extrapolate this data and you arrive at a simple conclusion. Men often don’t recognise or attend to their pain properly and leave it until it’s too late. I’ve also nearly been a statistic in this respect myself.
Why? Well, we’re men right? Tough guys don’t cry - especially young men who feel enormous cultural pressure to live up to a certain stereotype. We suffer silently, relying on all of the points above to sell ourselves the idea that we’re doing what men do in the presence of anxiety – deny it, ignore it, rationalise it, tell ourselves we can handle it, wait for it to go away, and decide that seeking help is weak or pointless. The statistics prove that this isn’t working.
So here it is guys. You are a human being. Human beings are fallible. We rely on a healthy body and a chemically balanced brain for our wellbeing. You are not invincible, and you do not have endless internal strength with which to carry this problem silently and secretly. Bottling up your feelings will not bring long term happiness. They just store themselves up for another day, and eventually, something gives. Life requires that we “process” our pain. That means regular clear-outs of old wounds and continued mental hygiene maintenance. Does that sound like too much work? Trust me…NOT doing it will be a heck of a lot more! You know what happens if you leave your teeth to rot right?
The good news then is that there are solutions available. We seem to be very confused about this. It would appear that we’re still culturally uncertain of just what to do about anxiety and depression. Put simply, most people really don’t understand it. That includes sufferers as well as many of our healthcare providers. Your GP will be knowledgeable to a point but they are not therapists. They are GENERAL practitioners. Then know a little about a lot. They refer to specialists and consultants who provide more in-depth assessment and treatment. It’s a mistake to believe that your doctor will be able to provide you with all of your needs on mental and emotional health. They do their best, but they are not specialists in this area. Nor do they have the time to extend to you that your difficulty requires.
In 2003 I became a therapist. I’ve been specialising in the treatment of anxiety disorders ever since. I’ve helped hundreds of people back to full power, and part of the strength of my understanding is having been on both sides of the therapist’s couch. My advice? Don’t leave it! Learn about it, recognise it, and do something about it before the ice gives way. Don't suffer my fate. It was unbearably painful.
So, yes, I’m going to shamelessly plug my book now, but that’s because I wrote it FOR YOU!
I’m 46 years old and the last decade of my life has been the best. My joints are starting to creak and the energy ain’t what it used to be. Sometimes I need a nap in the day! That’s all good with me, but the voice of experience is here to tell you that there is no time to waste! The years go by fast. Get help. Enjoy your life. Suck every morsel of deliciousness and joy available out of every crack and crevice you can find. You really don’t have to suffer secretly, in silence, or even just because it’s not “manly” to seek help. Why not at least begin with a book? Maybe that's all you'll need? Maybe you'll need more. Who can say?
I’m not here to claim that I have ALL the answers, but if you’re looking for a good place to start I can tell you with my hand on my heart that "Anxiety Relief" will give you as good a foundation in finding your peace as anything else available. Don’t just take my word for it. Here are the reader’s reviews. Its (currently) three quid for the ebook. You have everything to gain. Don't be put off by the flowery cover. That's what self help books have to look like. Inside you'll find the information that matters. Check it out. It has real answers inside!
I’m sending you my sincere best wishes and one final message – It can be done!
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