Exiting The Anxiety Closet

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 5 2015 @ 5:14pm

Maria Bamford, a Dish fave, exited through comedy:

Scott Stossel reflects on his decision to open up about his chronic anxiety:

I revealed my anxiety and … the world didn’t end. Did friends and colleagues talk about me behind my back? Maybe. Probably. (O.K., definitely.) But for the most part people didn’t seem to treat me any differently — and to the extent that they did, it was to express sympathy or empathy and even admiration for my “bravery” in revealing my vulnerability. (This always struck me as odd because I was being brave only in revealing my lack of bravery, which is a cheap sort of bravery indeed.)

Many people — friends, colleagues, strangers — came forward to share their own stories of anxiety, and to say that my publicly revealing my anxiety somehow made them feel more hopeful, or less alone, and sometimes less anxious. This made me feel good, though I found it ironic that my writing about my anxiety seemed to reduce other people’s anxiety more than it did my own.

I’m still anxious. I still have bad episodes. I remain (lightly, for the most part) medicated. But Dr. W. was right: Coming out as anxious has helped. It has been a relief not always to have to do “impression management,” as Dr. W. calls it. I don’t — or don’t always, anyway — feel a desperate compulsion to hide the anxiety that sometimes overtakes me.