The raging bull of anxiety

I heard a great description of anxiety the other day – from someone who has struggled with anxiety since their teens but didn’t start talking about it till their 20s :

“The feeling of anxiety itself, I describe it as like riding a bull, and the bull is your nervous system. And you’re just trying to hold on, and being in the world is so hard because everyone else seems like a calm horse rider to you, and you’re the only one who has to struggle with this bull, this thing.”

So says Bo Burnham — a 27-year-old, male comedian from Boston — who is the master of Eighth Grade – a recent hit movie whose protagonist is a 13-year-old girl who struggles with anxiety.

Taken from an interview he gave to Clint Edwards  He goes on to say:

“The problem with anxiety, or at least my anxiety, is that it often hits when I’m alone, at night, for example, when it’s dark and everyone is asleep, and I’m awake losing control of the bull. And when it happens during the day, the last thing I want is to be around anyone. I shut myself off from the world and focus on the anxiety, trying to get control of it.”

“I think the part some anxious people, myself included, don’t want to admit is that you don’t actually want to believe that your experience is shared. You actually want to be alone in this experience of anxiety, because it means you’re special. But you have to let that go. Because that is dark, it’s really dark. And anxiety isn’t special.”

Not all of us can turn our anxiety into a successful movie script like Burnham did. But he is another person – and, notably, another man – who is talking out about his anxiety – asking us to see that:

  • Anxiety is a really common thing
  • Anxiety is isolating because we don’t understand how common it is and think our anxiety makes us bad, special or different. And this isolation and shame only makes the anxiety worse, creating a vicious spiral.
  • Anxiety is a ‘raging bull’ in our life. But we can learn to take control over our raging bull – and get it back into the pen where it belongs

Anxiety just isn’t as unusual as you might think. But lots of us have just become quite expert at hiding it from others.

Counselling can quickly help you understand your anxiety and find effective and practical ways of overcoming it. If you would like to talk about how we can work together to get your anxiety under control and be the master of it then I would love to here from you – you can find my contact details here.

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