Anxiety disorders are a common mental health condition effecting suffers and their families. People experiencing Anxiety describe feelings of pressure, fear, apprehension, hopelessness …. a lack of control. The sufferer, crippled by these thoughts, looks for ways to process the feelings and regain control. Naturally each individual experiences different effects of this illness and practice different coping strategies, this is the story of an adolescent who uses a ‘Hidden Place’ as a way of calming his thoughts and feelings- his anxiety, and a view through the eyes of the parent of this long suffering individual.
The opportunity to interview a mother and son about living with anxiety from the perspective of both the parent and the adolescent sufferer provided an insight into how crippling this illness is and the difficulty of managing the illness at a young age. The interview revealed techniques and coping strategies each of these interviewees used to manage the illness, one of which is a ‘Hidden Place’. The parent expressed concerns about the adolescent isolating himself in a ‘Hidden Place’ and in contrast the adolescent expressed the comfort and sense of ease he felt with having a ‘Hidden Place’, his secret spot to retrieve to and find peace and a sense of control during times where his anxiety levels were at their worst.
The interviewees revealed they have been managing this illness without professional intervention for many years. The parent encouraged the adolescent to remind himself he was young and that things would improve as he matured and obtained skills to manage and process his feelings. The adolescent spoke about controlling the ruminating thoughts by escaping to a ‘Hidden Place’ a place he describes as a “spot where he could be alone and calm himself, process his thoughts and put the thoughts into perspective.” It was interesting but not surprising that while the adolescent found solace at his ‘Hidden Place’ the parent was apprehensive about the adolescent isolating himself. The adolescent and parent in this story deal with the mental illness privately, whilst to the outside world, everything seems normal.
Although retrieving to an isolated place helped this adolescent to deal with his condition, I don’t believe it would help individuals overcome this illness in the long term. Reaching out for support from organisations such as ‘Headspace’ can provide information for young people and their parents, on how to cope with this condition, as well as strategies to minimise anxiety throughout day-to day life. As a result, this slideshow/ video piece is a broader context of the hidden aspect of mental illness. Among the images and videos of the interviewee, audio and portrait of the ‘Hidden Place’ are included to emphasise the significance of this silent illness and its’ effects.
Storify and Tweets: https://storify.com/davidgski/hiddenanxiety-hidden-place