Recently when I was choosing a book for my grandson I started to recall the many books I had read to my own children and then I stumbled on the book ‘We are going on a bear hunt’ by Helen Oxenbury’. I remember this story as one we used to tell each other around a camp fire when I was camping with the Girl Guides many years ago! We loved to build up that fear and scream out and then that that lovely feeling when all was well. Children love to feel fear when they know they are safe and can be reassured and know there will be a happy ending and I suppose that’s why so many popular children’s stories have an element of fear attached and why theme parks are so successful. It’s not just children as adults we sometimes get pleasure by experiencing a frightening experience as long as we are can somehow remain in or regain control.
Just to remind you of the emotions and feelings of fear take a look at this video of ‘We are going on a bear hunt’
How did that make you feel, how did you feel the characters feel? Did you see the fear on their faces, feel their heart thumping, their frozen fear, their legs and body shaking, breathing accelerate and become shallow and then witness their flight from the situation to find the safe haven of the bedclothes.
We have all been there whether it is before an examination, a job interview or an audition or going to experience something or someone unfamiliar. But sometimes there is feeling that flight is impossible and the safe haven does not exist.
This famous painting ‘The Scream by Edvard Munch’ (1893) portrays the sheer agony of his personal anxiety. He was taking a stroll along a path by the side of a beautiful fjord in Norway and instead of him finding it a pleasant, relaxing experience he became full of fear and indescribable anxiety.
“I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous infinite scream of nature.”
I recall many patients who have attended surgery where fear has been so overwhelming that they feel frozen, unable to carry on, unable to face going to work or school even unable to get out of bed. One such patient came to me following a panic attack ( an extreme feeling of fear ) which occurred just before she about to sing a second Aria on Christmas Eve at the Chapel Royal. She had sung the first Aria beautifully then she became so overcome with anxiety she was unable to sing the second Aria.
She had graduated from Cambridge with a double First in Music and was about to launch on a career of being an Opera singer. She was devastated and felt her whole life had crumbled. Thankfully with treatment she overcame this anxiety and was a wonderful moment when I went to hear her sing in an Opera at St.Brides, Fleet Street. I think I was more anxious than she was! She then literally went off into the World to sing.
Other patients never make to the surgery but languish in there beds or at home too fearful to seek help.
These are the sort of patients that cannot wait in the waiting room and pace up and down the corridor or outside, desperate, on edge,trembling, asking for a glass of water or may simply walk out. Having talked to them I have shared their feelings, felt their anxiety and fears and now we try to arrange a time when they can come to be seen with a minimal waiting time, and we hopefully give them time to express how they feel because I know that if they are seen we can help treat this condition and they will ‘go off into the world and sing’
Ways we can signpost you to get help:-
- We have an in-house counsellor Tony who sees patient on a relatively quiet time in the surgery and a chance to give space to talk.
- a referral or self referral to IAPT
You can phone or email as below
Telephone 020 3313 5660
- we recommend self help books such as:-
A sequel to Danny Penman’s other book ‘ Finding peace in a Frantic World’
These can be obtained from Amazon as a book or downloaded onto a kindle
‘Want a happier, more content life? I highly recommend the down-to-earth methods you’ll find in Mindfulness. Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman have teamed up to give us scientifically grounded techniques we can apply in the midst of our everyday challenges and catastrophes,’ Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
Many patients have been grateful to having this book recommended to them.
http://www.moodjuice.scot.nhs.uk/anxiety.asp – this can be easily printed
http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/#.U4G8JX-9KK0. This has a useful podcast from someone suffering anxiety and how it was overcome and a booklet with information and ways to help anxiety
- join a Yoga class or follow a class on YouTube or try the following 10 poses
which I have re blogged to follow this blog.
- finally if you are feeling too desperate to leave your home, phone a friend or seek help outside there will always be anytime day or night a sympathetic listening ear at the end of the phone from the Samaritans. Hence, everyone reading this I suggest that as Dr Livingston and myself have done make sure the number is on your mobile or near your phone as none of us know when we may need to phone that number.