“Why does hiding my phobia from people make it worse for me?” Dr. Manuel Zane (the founder of our treatment center) was asked back in 1977. And here we are, in 2017, seeking the same answer.
Despite increased awareness and availability of treatment, phobias and other anxiety disorders may still carry an old stigma.
So many of us who are phobic are masters of deception. We don’t want to be judged because of our phobias, so we try to hide them by arranging our lives around them. We falsely believe that if we share our anxieties with others, they will judge—or worse—reject us.
Dr. Zane continued, “What make matters worse for all people who are phobic is that they have to pretend nothing is wrong. Stop and think of what a phobia is: to be afraid to do something that everybody else can do, not be able to overcome that fear and to feel that your whole being is about to be destroyed if you stay with it.
“Because phobias are something not commonly talked about, they can become something you feel you must hide. So you have three huge problems to cope with. The first is to keep yourself together. The second is to appear like nothing is happening. And the third is to get away to prevent the on-rush of what to you is something disastrous.”
Rather then putting all that energy into hiding our problems, would it not be better to pour that energy into seeking help? The result could be miraculous.
Fact: According to the Anxiety and Depressive Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults in the U.S. have some type of anxiety disorder—that’s about 18% of the population. Yet people who struggle with this problem are often reluctant to talk about it even with their closest friends. Perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised by the understanding and support you will receive when you share your struggle with others. You are not alone.
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