Anxiety for Beginners is an insightful, accessible introduction to the often crippling impact of anxiety disorders and serves as a guide for those who live with anxiety. Combining her own experiences with extensive research with experts and fellow sufferers, Eleanor Morgan, journalist and contributor to The VICE Guide to Mental Health, explores not just the roots of her own anxiety but also what might be contributing to so many of us suffering around the world. Here's a few insights on anxiety disorders from one of sharpest young voices in the media today.
On identifying an anxiety disorder . . .
'Generally speaking, if you are unable to function in the way you want, or need to, in your life because of anxiety, it is considered disordered.'
On the causes of anxiety . . .
'There are no clear answers... vunerability to anxiety is probably genetic. It can be due to personality or psychological traits, genetics or life experiences, but it is generally thought to be a combination of all of the above.'
On appearing 'normal' . . .
'During my time at VICE, I’d say I lived a ‘normal’ level of dysfunction. By that, I mean my dysfunction looked like everyone else’s when we sat in the pub and vented on a Thursday evening.'
On tackling anxiety . . .
'I didn’t have a ‘goal’. I just wanted to stop waking up with an invisible concrete block on my chest every morning.'
On contributing factors . . .
'I’d put serious money on you, if you met me, not having the faintest idea that I’ve struggled with anxiety so much. Unless we met in the week before my period.'
On finding a community online . . .
'I know from ploughing online forums like Reddit, one of the most revealing cultural specimens of our times, that I am not alone.'
On finding the right treatment for you . . .
'Flooding your head with other people’s experiences of medication is about as useful as a rhubarb shoehorn.'
On changing attitudes . . .
'People of my generation are finding it easier to open up than the previous generation and the generation before that, because wider dialogue is being encouraged and celebrated in all sorts of ways.'
On recovery . . .
'Process is a very important word with anxiety. We can have crises more than once. Recovery periods have peaks and troughs.'
On helping someone with anxiety . . .
'If, as an anxiety sufferer, I can add anything to what the mass of mental health charity guides or thousands of online resources are saying, it would be quite simple. In a nutshell: assume nothing, ask everything. Make both of you a cup of tea, give them the best-looking one and say, "Tell me about it".'
On sanity . . .
'My experience has made me acutely aware of how fragile anyone's mental health can be if the circumstances are right – right enough to go wrong.'
On acceptance . . .
'Anxiety can strip us of rationality, confidence and spark, but in learning to accept it as part of who we are, we can learn to see our moods as tides. In and out, in and out, in and out they go. No mental state is fixed because brains aren’t fixed – we’re highly evolved like that.'
On education . . .
'The statistics scream, unequivocally, that everyone needs to widen their knowledge about mental health problems, because with knowledge comes power. Understanding. Hope. Empathy. Options.'
Eleanor Morgan's Anxiety For Beginners is out now. Listen to an audio extract from the book below.