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"What IS the matter?"

written by Sue Northcott 28/06/2016

'What IS the matter with you?' The only possible answer is 'Nothing'. If you tried to explain what's really wrong the only response would have to be 'Don't be so silly!'

You only need to have that reaction a few times to learn not to say anything. You already know how stupid you are.  You don't need anyone else to say it.

So, you never talk about it. Even when you can't hide your reaction to whatever the problem is. Even when it leads to scenes with those you love. What you are afraid of is huge in your head, and just as bad is the risk of being ridiculed, again.

So, you try to avoid whatever is causing the problem.  That only makes it bigger. The spiral continues. Mild dread turns to a sickness in the pit of your stomach.  The sickness grows into the monster of a full blown panic attack and melt down. And even if it doesn't the fear that it will is always there.

You are afraid, and stupid and silly.

You are living with anxiety. You are incredibly brave. You tackle fears every day that would send the hero from a fairy tale running for the hills.

But really, you're not.  You are living with anxiety.  You are incredibly brave. You tackle fears every day that would send the hero from a fairy tale running for the hills. And, do you know, talking about your fears with someone you can trust actually makes them smaller.  Being able to laugh at them makes them shrink. Some of them may even disappear.

I used to be terrified of bees. I'm quite fond of them now. I had a pathological fear of mashed vegetables and gravy. I can actually eat them now, though I wouldn't really choose to.  I once was so messed up in my attitude to food that I nearly ate raw chicken because I thought I was just being 'fussy'. My lovely boyfriend saved me.

I still don't drive, despite holding a licence.  Probably better for everyone, really. I still hate the telephone, but I will use it if I have to.

I am guilty of ignoring people I really like because I've got myself into a state about starting a conversation.

But as long as I can talk about it nothing 'IS the matter', it's just me coping with the anxiety the best way I can.

So, if you possibly can find someone you can share your fears with. You may need to warn them not to say the S words. You don't need to hear them. If you aren't in a place to share yet have a look at the many blogs from fellow anxiety suffers. You are not alone. You are amazing. 

If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email


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Submitted by Kath Moore on Aug 8th, 2016

Well done Sue. Reading this has helped me deal with some of my issues

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