Dear Barb—An Anxious Ask

Dear Barb:

Hi, I read your column every week and finally decided I should write in.  It can’t hurt, right? 

I am writing about my anxiety.  I have suffered from anxiety for the last 3 years.  When the symptoms first surfaced I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, like a brain tumor or a heart condition.  I went through all kinds of tests and the diagnosis ended up being anxiety attacks.  It was difficult for me to accept the fact that I have a mental illness. 

When I finally told my family, they did not believe me.  They accused me of always being dramatic and wanting attention.  It hurt me very much that they did not believe me.  As a result, I stopped seeing them and now my anxiety attacks are getting worse.  I am at a loss for what to do.  Should I continue to see them and have to deal with their negative remarks, or should I stay away from them even though my anxiety is worse? I need some direction.  Thanks, Ken.

Hi Ken:

Good to hear from you.  Anxiety is at an all-time high right now, with Covid, the war in Ukraine, and rocketing prices for food, gas, housing etc.  You are not alone, many people are experiencing high stress levels, which result in mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.  We all like to think we are strong and can power through anything, but that is not always the case.

Anxiety disorder is described by The Mayo Clinic, which says “Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.  Environmental factors: Experiencing a trauma might trigger an anxiety disorder, especially in someone who has inherited a higher risk to start.  Heredity: Anxiety disorders tend to run in families.”

As hard as it may be you need to ignore your families’ comments.  I assume you have been diagnosed by a reputable doctor; therefore, it is important to follow his or her instructions.  However, I feel that you should make every attempt to remain in contact with your family members, but if they flatly refuse to believe that you have anxiety, then it may be a good idea to limit your contact with them.  Be honest with them and explain that if they choose not to believe your illness is real, then you will have to limit your time with them because it negatively impacts your mental health.  Continue to reach out for support from other’s who understand what you are going through.  Join a support group, where you will receive the encouragement and understanding that you need.  Follow your doctor’s advice and you will get through this.  Thank you for writing Ken.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
%d bloggers like this: