Many of the highlight events in my life for the last 6 years have a backstory of fighting back anxious thoughts to get myself to go to the event, meet with friends, do the interview, go up the elevator, pitch the idea, get on the plane, fill out the application, sign the contract, etc, etc.
I definitely have become better at this game (turning down the volume of daily anxiety from an 8 or 9 to about a 2 or 3) and have moved forward regardless of the monkey brain madness. Some hours are better than others and I haven’t had a debilitating panic attack in years. Recently it has raised its ugly head again in the form of health (or illness) anxiety. Because of the havoc that this has wreaked on my relationships and overall life, I am getting much more aggressive with it. I want to kill the nasty whispering lizard on my shoulder.
I'm not the only one fighting, you aren't either
I just know I’m not alone in this fight against the inner demons and I want to speak up. Anxiety is the #1 cause of disability globally and collectively costs employers billions each year and if the research is right, roughly 20% of you have some sort of anxiety disorder. I want to be part of the solution in real life with those of you who are in my reach.
Brené Brown says:
“Shame thrives on secrecy, silence, and judgment.
Shame can’t survive being spoken.”
I have hidden my experience with anxiety for years.
I want to be seen as competent, not as weak and emotional. I have believed that to be socially acceptable, I can’t hold these roles while also experiencing anxiety. It’s not comfortable to show this side of yourself. I want to be seen as a man, a husband, a leader, a TEDx speaker coach, a director, a PhD candidate, a podcast host, an all-around dynamite guy. The truth is that I have been all of these things while fighting anxiety simultaneously.
No matter the source(s) of *your* trauma or anxiety, you are not alone. If you are the silent sufferer of any level of anxiety or panic, know that Andy Proctor, the guy with the amazing public highlight reel, has been there and is actually walking that path today.
I am fighting and I’m not giving up and you shouldn’t give up either.
I’m going to talk more about this so that the 20% of you out there with silent anxiety know you’re not alone and the 100% of you who know someone who is struggling with this can maybe learn something that will improve your relationship with them.
I have never given up. When the anxiety is at its worst I repeat to myself a line from a poem by Dylan Thomas: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Don’t let your light die. My light is not dead. Sometimes I do have to rage. I encourage you to rage against thoughts that tell you that you are not enough, that you don’t matter or that you are alone and no one gets it. You are worthy. You are worth it. You matter and you aren’t alone in this.
Anxiety and other mental health issues need to be normalized. Please keep fighting. Tell your secrets. Break your silence. Kill the shame. Not just on social media. Do it in real life too.