When I grew up in the 1980s, anxiety and depression were rarely discussed openly and most often hidden by those living with them. Growing up with anxiety, I felt alone. No one seemed able to listen to me talk about how I felt; able to show that they heard me and cared about my struggles. I thought I was the only one suffering the way I did and the anxiety I carried felt as much a part of me as my physical body; as real and permanent as my arms, or my hands, or my legs.
Fortunately, things have changed since the 1980’s. Today, the subject of mental health has become a fixture in our societal discourse and those of us who struggle with anxiety know we are not alone. In just the US, 40 million adults aged 18 or older claim to have an anxiety disorder. Perhaps even more concerning is that statistics indicate the rate of chronic anxiety among 13 to 18 year olds in the U.S. is as high as 32%. Similar statistics can also be found in other countries. In all, literally hundreds of millions of people worldwide have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
With those kinds of numbers, it’s likely that, no matter where you are, you know someone who struggles at times with feelings of anxiety. You would think that this would make sharing our own experiences easier, and in some ways it has. But for those of us who grew up in different times, or for those of us without strong support networks, letting others in on our private anxiety struggles can still be intimidating. There is still the risk of being misunderstood; the risk of rejection; the risk of being labelled, stereotyped, or unsupported. There is still the feeling we shouldn’t burden others with our problems.
This is part of why I have started to share my own struggles with the DoYogaWithMe community. As I have slowly learned to make friends with my own anxiety, I have become increasingly determined to help others do the same. I want us to stop feeling like we can’t talk to each other about anxiety, stop feeling like we have to carry these things on our own. Instead of shame, I want openness and curiosity. Instead of loneliness, I want support. Instead of merely acknowledging that anxiety is common in our society, I want us to build compassionate communities where we can explore these feelings together.
I want DoYogaWithMe to be this kind of community where people dealing with anxiety feel seen, empowered, and supported. Community members who have been with us for some time may be familiar with my video talks on anxiety on our Topics page and my 21-Day Program, Let Go of Anxiety and Fear, an in-depth, daily program designed to create permanent life change. For those needing more support I have created a series of ten videos I’m calling Anxiety: A Learning Series. You can watch the first video, a conversation with my videographer Jeff, at the bottom of this article, while all ten videos will be published on our Anxiety: A Learning Series Program page on June 7/21. You can go there now to see the video titles and descriptions and sign up here to receive a program launch notification on June 7th:
It is my hope that these videos will help you relate to your anxiety in a new light. Like all of our programming, Anxiety: A Learning Series is heavily influenced by my own anxiety, and the techniques that I have found useful in dealing with it. As always though, the classes are just one part of the equation. It’s my belief that each of you has as much to teach as you do to learn, and I want to encourage you to be part of our conversation. Please make use of the comment boards for these videos and check out our ongoing discussion about anxiety in our Learn How to Live with Anxiety Forum. Whatever your experiences, you are welcome here.