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Is it OK to avoid everyday situations that make us anxious? Or should we always find a way to cope?

In this episode we are going to be talking about avoiding anxiety-inducing situations.

For people with mental health problems, this question is particularly relevant. It may be that fears around a particular situation are linked to trauma, generalised anxiety or compulsive behaviours. No matter how much we rationalise that such fears are unfounded, we find it near impossible to allay them.

Are there day-to-day situations that cause enough mental distress that they should simply be avoided – full stop? Or is developing coping strategies to face our fears always the way to go?

You can read Will’s article about this topic in The Mighty by clicking here.

Follow us on Twitter and more at https://www.bio.link/livelyminds

Find out more about our show at https://www.anyamedia.net/livelyminds

Transcript

E: I’d just like to give a brief content warning for this episode. We will discuss different
types of anxiety-inducing situations and when or whether we should avoid them. Whilst I will not be discussing any of the traumatic events themselves, I will talk about the anxiety that can be induced by medical trauma and will discuss an incident of reclaiming a physical space that has been linked to a traumatic event.

W: Also, just a reminder that this show does not constitute medical or therapeutic advice and is also a replacement for seeking professional help. You can find signs posting to support on our website anyamedia.net/livelyminds.

W: Hello, my name is Will.

E: And my name is Ellie.

W: You’re listening to Lively Minds, the podcast about mental health challenges that go beyond the ebb and flow of the everyday.

E: The podcast that is less about how we deal with our mental health and more about how we understand it in the first place.

In today’s episode we’re going to be talking about whether or not to avoid anxiety-inducing situations.

W: For people with mental health problems this question is particularly relevant. It may be that fears around a particular situation are linked to trauma, generalised anxiety or compulsive behaviours. No matter how much we rationalise that such fears are unfounded we find it near impossible to allay them.

E: Are there day-to-day situations that cause enough mental distress that they should be simply avoided full stop? Or is developing coping strategies to face our fears always the way to go?

[music]

W: So to begin with, Ellie, I think we wanted to start by just clarifying a few things about what it is that we’re talking about today. And you wanted to make a distinction between stressful situations and anxiety inducing situations. Take, take us through that.

E: Yeah, so I just think it’s important to clarify that what we’re talking about today is more about
kind of day-to-day scenarios that make you nervous rather than stressful situations. So for example, actors get nervous before going on stage, but if they do love acting, then that kind of stage fright is different to what I would interpret as a stressful situation. So I’m going to deliberately use the term anxiety-inducing situations because I think that’s what we’re really talking about here. So it’s useful to clarify because people who have experienced some kind of significant trauma in a particular situation, for example, are unlikely to benefit from being put back in that particular situation. So there’s something akin to, I guess, exposure therapy, which I think we’re talking about later, that was actually important for me in terms of dealing with one of my PTSD triggers, which is, which I called reclaiming space.

A while after a particularly traumatic event, there was this park that I couldn’t pass on the bus without having a panic attack or disassociating, but I had to pass this park on a bus like almost every day. So I can’t remember how I decided, how or why I got to a point where I decided to do this, but I asked my best friend to come on a walk with me through the park. So we went for like a long walk through the park and I talked about what had happened and I felt safe with the friend and I was therefore able to feel more confident walking through the park and I was able to notice, you know, that it’s got a really beautiful pond in it and really beautiful trees and it was, it was very cathartic for me and very therapeutic. So then I still had to go past that park on the bus and I hadn’t forgotten the awful things that happened, but it meant that I had a different relationship to that space and I had something therapeutic and grounded to be reminded of next time I went past it. So, but I think a crucial aspect of that is, is that I was in control of this and made the decision to do it. I don’t imagine this would work if anyone else had forced me to kind of try to reclaim a space. But it was something that I chose to do and wanted to do and it was a good recovery move for me.

And yeah, you know, in most situations, we would not encourage someone with PTSD to put themselves into a triggering scenario because that on its own is definitely not going to help someone feel better.

So I guess what we’re talking about today is kind of the more general idea of, you know, should we always face our fears? And like, where does that idea come from?

W: That’s a really good distinction to make. And it’s one that I hadn’t really fully grasped. I don’t think until we were just prepping for this show, to be quite honest with you, I think there is clearly a distinction to be made between, I guess, situations which would be traumatic in their origins, and situations which are, as you say, the kind of more day-to-day anxiety that we, that some people may experience as they go about their daily lives.

E: Yeah.

W: So I think it’s fair to say that there is a somewhat pervasive idea throughout this society that says that we should always aim to overcome fears, overcome anxieties related to any kind of day-to-day task. This idea of facing our fears of, of doing that in order to live a better life and I had a bit of research Ellie,

E: Uh oh.

W: There’s a bit of research and yeah, I mean this idea goes back a very very long way. In the times of ancient Greece the concept was called eudaimonia. Eudaimonia is a Greek term that can be understood as human flourishing or the good life. This idea of continuing self-improvement and self-fulfilment. In more recent times there was as a psychologist who I’d have never heard of, but of course because you are far more experienced in, in these things than me, Ellie, you have heard of very much so. Someone called Carol Dweck, is that the right pronunciation to think of, Elly?

E: Yeah.

W: And this psychologist developed the distinction between a growth mindset which views intelligence, abilities and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort, and a fixed mindset which views intelligence, abilities and talents as inherently stable and unchangeable over time. There’s this idea, certainly within our society, I would say, this idea of continuing self-improvement requires us to do things that we may feel uncomfortable about. And personally, I, I don’t like, fundamentally disagree with that. I mean, I think there is a lot of truth in that. Sometimes we have to do things that we’re not too comfortable about in order to realise that we enjoy them or realise that um, we’re good at them or whatever it might be.

E: I think that like the growth mindset itself doesn’t suggest that we can do anything providing we fail at it enough times or we are capable of absolutely everything at an amazing level, we just aren’t doing it enough. I think that is how it’s used a lot.

W: Ah right OK

E: But the mindset is that, although to me it’s not really a mindset, it’s more of a sort of understanding of human behaviour and learning. And I totally agree with it because, yeah, the idea is just that, yeah, you’re not fixed, you can, there are things that you can develop and improve on through effort and learning. And of course we know that’s true because if you practise the piano quite a lot, you get better at the piano.

W: Er, I wrote an article about this in The Mighty, which I’ll put a link to in the show notes. It was called The Art of Avoidance and it was basically trying to sort of gently challenge the idea that we should do things that cause us anxiety just to get better at them or to feel more confident doing them. Because I think that especially in the context of people who have mental health challenges that can first of all be a lot harder to do, um, so I think we have to at least recognize that. And secondly, I think it’s sometimes debatable whether it’s always the right course of action. And I mean, so I gave an example of a story, and it’s quite a simple story, but it’s that a nurse working in a hospital, um, stopped doing certain tasks because they were so nervous, they were so scared about making a mistake, and for this mistake to cause suffering or death, or even the death of people, of patients in that hospital, and her, her colleagues kind of managed to rearrange her tasks, possibly even her management, I can’t remember the precise details, but managed to rearrange her tasks so that she didn’t have to do those specific tasks that she was particularly anxious about. And what I find interesting about that is that the, within that story, the advice that was given, which was that, that’s really not a good idea because she has to face up to those tasks and get to a position where she feels comfortable doing them because otherwise it could be limiting in terms of her career prospects or in terms of her general sense of wellbeing or whatever it might be. My response to that is, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. I mean, it could be the case. I’m not saying it definitely isn’t the case. I’m not sure whether it’s necessarily as clear cut as that, though.

E: I think there’s a few things, isn’t there? Because I mean, it’s an ongoing difficulty to define what is a reasonable adjustment and what is a reasonable essential part of your job, if we’re talking about career things. And that’s always kind of going to need to be negotiated. I mean, I don’t know in that nurse situation, I think, because I have a friend who’s a nurse and there’s been a sort of increasing number of aspects of parts of his day-to-day job that have become really unpleasant for him and stressful and awful but I know that there’s no, that they’re inherent to that particular role. You know, there’s no option for him to not, not do those tasks.

Yeah, I don’t know. I think maybe healthcare is like a slightly different setting because the things that are at risk and the system around it is a bit more intense than instead of, like, if we were talking about like an office role where you had various administrative tasks, you got anxious about making phone calls, it might be possible that you’re able to quite reasonably restructure your job so that you don’t have to make as many phone calls, someone else does and you pick up on some of their email work or something like that.

W: There’s sort of two aspects to this, isn’t there? There’s the impact of avoiding anxiety-inducing situations, what that impact might be on your, yourself, and then the impact that there might be on the people around you in your workplace. And we’re going to talk a bit about that after the break.

But I think what is interesting is that on, in both cases, there does seem to me, to be a culture of it’s pretty much always the case that you should work towards tackling these situations head on and working out coping mechanisms and coping strategies in order to be able to do them. And of course, it’s prevalent within, within the world of mental health specifically.

One example I immediately thought of is exposure and response prevention therapy, ERP, which is in, is a therapy for OCD, which is entirely about people being exposed to particular situations which will trigger compulsions but then actively avoiding carrying out those compulsions. And the key thing I think is that this all has a place, it all absolutely has a place. There are people who I work with in my job who I, I support to engage in a whole range of situations and very often engaging in those situations, many of which they may find quite anxiety inducing, it’s a really beneficial for them to do so and they actually really improve as a result. But I think what’s interesting is that it kind of goes back to something you were saying earlier, which is there is, this there’s also this idea, this pervasive idea that it’s okay to fail and by failing we learn. But even if we fail and fail and fail again, the idea is that we should always be pursuing success.

E: Yeah. Yeah, and I think that’s the bit I disagree with.

W: Yeah, that’s like failure is an option. But it’s only an option if you try and try and try again until you succeed.

E: I think it’s a good idea in some of the situ, the types of day-to-day anxiety that we’re talking about to try again, but not with the view of succeeding. It’s kind of a test to see, like, well, you know, do I need to be as anxious about this as I think, as I am? Is it going to be as bad as I think?

What I’d do is I would be like, right, well, I’m going to give it another go. And these were the
things that I didn’t like last time so I’m gonna try and work on those this time. But if I do it again maybe once more after that and it still is stressing me out and making me really anxious, I probably would write it off as like, something I’m just not gonna, something that is just gonna make me anxious. So I think the trying again is good, good, because that’s how we do new experiences isn’t it? And venture into the unknown but I don’t think repeatedly trying until you succeed is necessarily possible, but also not a particularly healthy option.

Um, but there is also, there’s a lot of evidence for exposure and response prevention with exposure therapy in, with phobias and things, that aren’t rooted in an existing traumatic experience. So the easiest one to think about is kind of a phobia of spiders. Like there’s a lot of success of exposure therapy for things like arachnophobia. But yeah, that’s only if there isn’t a kind of specific incident that has happened in that person’s life that has caused a post-traumatic response to seeing spiders.

W: I think we should quickly go to a break.

E: We are a brand new podcast, so it would really help us out big time if you could rate our show. If you are listening to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podchaser, Stitcher, Castbox, Podcast Addict, GoodPods, Acast, Amazon or Audible. Please take a few seconds to do so. And why not tell a couple of friends? Or share your favourite episode on social media? It really helps others find the podcast.

W: So, we’re back after the break. Ah, I love saying that.

So anyway, let’s talk about some of the impacts of avoiding stressful situations.

So Ellie, do you want to give an example?

E: So I think maybe my best example for the types of anxiety inducing situations that we’re talking about is probably transport and travel. So I get really anxious before using public transport, especially since Covid. And to be honest, that is rooted in kind of previous ableist or bad experiences that I’ve had on public transport because of my mobility difficulties and things,
which I’m sure ties into a whole lot of complex post-traumatic stress, but those particular incidents maybe weren’t so horrific that I have a sort of PTSD response to getting on transport.

But anyway, I think the reason my anxiety was a lot worse after Covid was that for two years or something, because I was um shielding for that long, so for me it was just like one big two-year lockdown. Obviously I didn’t get on any public transport and I think that just made it a lot worse.
So for my current job, like, I work across the whole region of the northwest, so I need to get regional trains all the time. And initially I was really really nervous about it. But actually because I’ve been doing it now a lot, like very frequently, at least a few times a month, you know, I can now, as long as I know I don’t have to change trains for example, I’m absolutely fine and it’s completely increased my confidence and I’m really glad that I do it because I also now actually quite enjoy it. I do still get quite anxious about having to change trains, but I’m sure that, the more I do that, the more confident I will be doing it.

W: I think when it comes to the impact of addressing anxiety-inducing situations, there seems to be sort of three areas of impact, from what I can tell. There’s a sort of practical level impact. So how did you struggling to get public transport impact your quality of life?

There’s also a question of power. So it’s like, do you have the agency to avoid those stressful situations? So in other words, for, for example, are there other methods of transport you could take rather than the train to avoid those situations? Because of course, that varies hugely depending on someone’s circumstances.

And then thirdly, there’s the expectation that others have in terms of them thinking that you should be able to engage in these particular situations. So, you know, someone might turn around to you and say, “Why are you getting anxious about getting a train?” And you know it could be quite frowned upon by society and absolutely not understood by a lot of people why it is that you’re getting stressed about getting a train.

E: And I think there’s another aspect as well, which is consequence, isn’t it?

W: Are you saying there’s a fourth aspect as well, Ellie?

E: I am, yeah. I think there’s a fourth aspect, which is consequence. So, you for example, if there was like, I don’t know, a friend’s wedding happening and it meant in order to get there I had to get a particularly unpleasant train journey that involved like changing twice. One of them at Birmingham New Street for example, worst station to change at ever. If that’s the only way of me getting there and it’s either I do that and then I can attend this best friend’s wedding or I don’t do that and I have to miss the wedding. You know, The consequence of that period of anxiety and me doing it or not is, is pretty important in me making my decision. And I probably would, you know, if I really wanted to go,

W: Yes

E: I would go and put myself through it because I want the thing at the other end of it.

W: Yes.

E: And similarly with my job, if I didn’t go out of my way and put myself through those anxiety-inducing travel regional train journeys, then I wouldn’t be working with any organisations like outside of central Manchester. And I think that’s, that would be really bad, not just for me, but for the charity, for the area, for everything. So I’m always going to want to do it.

W: The example that I use in the article that I wrote is that I would always find delivering kind of creative workshops really stressful as part of my job and it’s,

[laughter]

as I said those words, I kind of thought

E: yeah my eyes widened! delivering workshops is the most is the most anxiety inducing experience ever and I’m a massive extrovert and I think that so I can only imagine

[laughter]

W: you know I just, sorry, I just, the reason why I was laughing with this, I was just thinking it just, it actually just sounds so lovely, and so, you know creative workshops.

E: I know

W: It sounds so stress-free and everyone’s having such a lovely time and actually

E: It’s the most stressful thing ever!

W: it used to just absolutely stress me out beyond belief.

So I did that for 10 years. I delivered workshops for 10 years and it never got any less stressful. It never got any less anxiety-inducing and I decided in the end to drop that part of my work and focus on other aspects of my work. And here’s the key thing, is that I just, the operative words there were “I decided”, I had the agency to be able to decide that. I had the privilege to be able to decide that, er for myself because I’m, you know, a senior co-founder of the organisation in question. And so I’m very aware that that put me at a massive advantage compared to a lot of other people, er who simply have not got the choice to avoid anxiety-inducing situations in the workplace.

E: Yeah, no, definitely. And actually, that workshop one’s a funny example, because this year’s the first year that I’ve decided the same, basically. Although, yeah, again, I actually don’t have that much control over some of it. There’s some workshop-y type things that I’m going to have to do, because I’m part freelance, so I have to do some things. But, but there have been two situations this year where I’ve made a stand for the first time, basically saying, “I just really don’t want to do that, I’m not gonna find it all right once it gets going.” Which is what I used to always tell myself.

W: Yeah, Yeah

E: I will just find it all really, really stressful and unpleasant, and I do need the money, but I’m sort of taking care of myself and saying, “Yeah, no, sorry, I just can’t do it.”

W: I think for, for me, and I don’t know whether this is a common theme amongst people who find particular day to day situations cause a lot of anxiety. But for me, a lot of it is around predictability, control, a script, if you like, is there a script to this given situation?

E: mmmmm

W: And what I’ve very much noticed is that if I don’t know what is happening in any given situation, if I don’t know, if I can’t predict and have some control over what is happening, that is the key, that’s the nub of what makes a situation anxiety inducing or not for me is the level of control I have and I just wonder to what extent that is kind of like a common theme.

E: I think it probably is because a lot of, I guess that’s an interesting difference isn’t it? The sort
of anxiety around doing something that is centred on the fact that there are many aspects of it that are unknown so it’s a bit of a fear of the unknown. Like if you’re nervous about doing something that you’ve not done before you don’t feel experienced in, you don’t feel confident in, or the anxiety you get before doing something where you know exactly what’s going to happen, you’ve had to do it before, but you just really, really don’t like doing it.

The control thing’s interesting because in order to make myself feel less anxious going to a new space, so that could literally be like a venue or a restaurant or a, you know, any kind of building that I have to be in for a bit of time that I’ve not been to before, as soon as I get there, the first things I figure out are where is, where are the nearest places for me to sit down when I need to and where is the nearest accessible toilet. And once I’ve clocked both those two things, I sort of have this sigh of relief and I’m like, oh right, okay, I can move on with my evening now.

W: We want to find out from you what mental health topics interest you the most, and what you
think we should cover on our show. Get in touch with us on Twitter at livelymindspod or email us at livelymines@anyamedia.net

W: For the final section of the, of the show, we’re going to be thinking a bit about supporting people either in stressful or anxiety-inducing situations, but also supporting people to avoid anxiety-inducing situations and how this interacts with the social model.

Ellie, do you want to give a very quick explainer about the social model? We are going to cover
the social model in more detail in a future episode, but just for people who might not
have heard of it before, would you mind explaining what it is?

E: So the social model of disability is what is currently accepted as sort of best practice amongst organisations to adopt in terms of how to view disability. It’s different from what has historically been the most prominent model of understanding disability, which is the medical model. So the medical model is the model that says the reason I, as a wheelchair user, can’t go to a gig that I want to go to is because I have something wrong with me that means I can’t go up the two flights of stairs. You know, I’m the failure in that situation and that’s why I can’t access something.

The social model of disability explains that disability is something that is constructed by barriers that society puts in place. So that gig example, the social model would say, well, there’s nothing wrong with me. If there was a ramp or an elevator, I would be able to attend the gig. The barrier is the two flights of stairs. I always think stairs is, the easiest example to give in terms of talking about the social model of disability and people saying, you know, oh, well, I don’t think you’ll be able to come to that gig ’cause like there’s no chairs. And I’m like, well, I’ll just ring the venue and ask them to put some chairs out and then I can go to the gig.

W: So it’s this idea that it is the role of society, er the role of the venue in your case to put in place accommodations to meet your access requirements. that’s the fundamental idea behind the social model, isn’t it?

E: Yeah, it’s like disability is created by barriers, not by the person. But then when we do a whole episode about that, we can talk about the radical model of disability.

W: Oh, there are so many models of disability.

E: Yeah.

W: It’s very exciting. And yeah, we are gonna do an episode on that in the future.
So if we apply this to what we’ve been talking about, anxiety inducing situations, there’s an interesting thing here for me, because I think on the one hand, one could say that the thing that is causing the person anxiety is considered to be the barrier. A solution following the social model approach would be to say that we need to remove the thing that’s causing the anxiety. So in the case of that example of the nurse I gave earlier, remove the tasks from her task list that she was really struggling with and really finding very, very anxiety inducing. By doing that, we remove the barrier and we are able to er reduce the, the distress that that individual is experiencing as a result.

I guess, though, that you could also turn it on its head and say, well, is the barrier really the thing that is causing that nurse anxiety? Is it, is it, the measuring a particular medication, a particular way to a particular amount that is causing the anxiety? Is the thing that’s causing the anxiety a broader cultural issue or a broader issue around accessible training or broader issue around the architecture if you like, the broader architecture of that environment that that nurse is working in which is the barrier to them being able to carry out their jobs without feeling intense anxiety.

E: So you could use the social model to say that supporting someone to avoid an anxiety-inducing experience is a reasonable adjustment but also the same social model could say that the fact that the experience itself is stressful is an example of the social model not being enacted.

W: Exactly.

E: Yeah. I mean, I think they can both be true. I don’t even think the last one is flipping the other one on its head because like the reality is that something may be an example of the social model not being enacted but that’s the reality of the world we live in.

[laughter]

W: Yeah.

E: Yeah, I mean, often you shouldn’t have to make a reasonable adjustment because sometimes the reasonable adjustment is actually just a barrier that shouldn’t be there anyway.

W: Yeah.

E: So I don’t think that anyone should ever force someone to do something they don’t want to do, but I do think it’s important and can be empowering for some people, because sometimes they’ve never been asked before probably, to give someone the opportunity to think about their fear of anxiety and ask them, so give them the option if it’s something they would like to work through or work, work towards trying out.

So say it was speaking on a stage, sometimes people are like I’ve always been scared of public speaking but actually I want to get over it, I want to try it that’s quite common so you then might be able to offer them some kind of step towards that for example by inviting them to stand with you on stage but not have to speak – you do all the speaking. It’s good and encouraging and supportive to offer people agency around their own anxieties and how they’d like to kind of either cope with them or shape their life around them. And sometimes people say yes to that a lot, like especially I think, especially when I was a youth worker there was a lot of that. People, kids were scared of stuff that they’d not tried out but they kind of wanted to, but they were nervous and didn’t want to do it entirely on their own. That was pretty standard and it was an important and good part of the work to kind of help them with something like that appropriately. But if someone is just like, “No, I do not want to go on stage, that is my worst nightmare,” I don’t believe you’re doing them a favour by trying to force them to.

W: Yeah

E: So you’re sort of giving someone agency on how much they want to try out new experiences or getting over a certain fear.

W: Yeah. And it kind of goes back to the idea of agency, doesn’t it? And the idea that trying to force somebody to do something they don’t want to do is not a, is not a good approach. And I think also this can apply quite often to punitive approaches as well. And the most obvious example is people who are not in work. And this idea, this absolutely ingrained idea throughout society that everybody should be working, everyone must be working, work is good, not working is bad. There’s this really kind of clear-cut, very binary idea that is perpetuated of course by government, government of all stripes really. And this can be really challenging and actually going back to what I was saying earlier about the looking at the social model in those two ways, on the one hand I, I absolutely think that it should be argued that social model tells us that are some people for whom work, they should never be expected to work because at the end of the day the barriers that they experience to access work are such that to expect them to work is simply and is is, unreasonable, simple as that really.

At the same time we did a, we just had an interesting thing happen at the organisation that I founded and worked for. In a survey we asked about all of our members, the vast majority of whom are disabled or neurodivergent, about their enthusiasm for entering work or for doing more work than they’re currently doing. If for example, some of them may have just been on very few hours, for example. So we asked, you know, would you essentially like to do more work?

And what we found was there was a really lukewarm response. In other words, there were a significant number of people who really weren’t interested. They were either economically inactive and did not want to engage with er paid work, or they, in some cases, didn’t even want to engage, which was volunteering.

And so we, we decided to dig into that a little bit deeper. And so we went, we actually sat down with a whole group and we asked them questions around this. And surprise, surprise, what came back was a list of worries, anxieties, barriers that are inherent within the workplace, within the standard workplace. Stuff around discrimination, stuff around access, um similar to what you were saying before with the venue example, Ellie, just very, you know, things that were clearly issues that the world of work, in inverted commas had a response, has a responsibility to sort out, not the individuals who are expressing that really ambivalent attitude towards getting work. And that’s why this kind of a punitive approach, which I think is so often employed, especially in relation to work, where people who are too anxious to enter into work are, are kind of punished essentially as a result through benefit sanctions, all the rest of it. It’s not only deeply immoral, but it’s also just really counterproductive. But that’s probably another podcast, isn’t it?

E: Oh, definitely. I’ve just thought of several people I’d like to invite, actually, while you were saying that.

And I think also there’s some stuff where it’s stuff that you absolutely definitely have to do, that you really don’t want to do. One of the things that makes me most nervous and anxious is anything to do with medical appointments or the bureaucracy of healthcare, anything like that. I respond completely disproportionately to the tiniest thing. Like, if I’ve got better at it in most situations, but you know, even if the thing that’s happening isn’t that bad, like if they’re like, “Oh yeah, I know we said on the phone we had your prescription, but actually we don’t,” I’ll just like burst into tears and they’re like, “What?” And it’s an interesting example because I do have complex PTSD from a lot of traumatic medical experiences, so there is an enormous amount of complete psychological and physical trauma associated to why, why I find anything to do with that area so difficult. So it’s both kind of an anxiety-inducing experience to have to phone the GP and also can be a trigger. However, unfortunately, I do have a lot of health problems and it’s not an option for me to just not engage at all, ever, with the GP. I have to do them. I have to go and get my medication. I have to make a GP appointment if I get an infection and deal with it. I do now have a support worker who is able to help with some of the administrative things which reduces the frequency of me having to force myself to put myself in those situations. But ultimately I can’t not ever see a doctor again because the reality is I do need to just go and see a doctor. So I think that’s another interesting one because sometimes whether it’s an anxiety inducing experience or a traumatic experience, there are certain aspects of life that we are not able to avoid. And you know, lots of experiences like that do actually, some people, you know, do then just never engage with healthcare again and can get very poorly. But yeah, it is really difficult.

W: That’s a really good point and I would encourage listeners to tell us what they think as well. I mean, I say that because when I wrote that article I found that it was, of all the articles I’ve written for The Mighty, it was the one that sparked the most debate in the comments section.

E: It would be interesting to hear if there were any either workplace or day to day things that used to make you anxious that you sort of tried to push through and it either worked or didn’t work and kind of how you found that process would be really interesting to hear from you.

E: Thank you so much everyone for listening and please do tune in again in two weeks for another episode of Lively Minds, the mental health podcast.

W: Please note that this show does not constitute medical or therapeutic advice and is not a replacement for seeking professional help. You can find signposting to support on our website anyamedia.net/livelyminds.

E: Take care and bye for now.

W: Bye Bye.

[music]

Lively Minds is an Anya Media //// Still Ill OK co-production

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