I don’t self-disclose when providing services for people unless I think my experience/ disclosure could help them.
Hi, my name is Danny, and I have anxiety. There, I said it. Laugh aloud.
The truth is, as a child, I suffered from severe anxiety.
I had some very strong irrational beliefs (during the 80s) that the world was going to blow up from nukes, or we’d have an earthquake that would eat us all alive, or a volcano was going to melt us, or a tornado from the Wizard of Oz was going to get us. NOTE: I live in West Virginia (up in the mountains) and far away from Tornado states (Kansas, Nebraska), earthquake states (California) or volcanoes (Hawaii, Montana?) That didn’t matter. I knew it was going to happen.
I have the most supporting and caring parents a person could imagine. My parents are still married and I have had a really wonderful life. However, I had odd anxieties that my parents were going to die in a car wreck and we (me, my younger brother Jimmy and my sister Carrie) would not have anybody. I worried my parents might change their mind if I was bad and leave us behind.
Onetime my parents didn’t return from a 5-minute trip to 2-john’s short stop (a little general store). I was “freaking out.” I was about 12-years-old at the time. My younger brother and sister were calm and watching television. I started to look up and down the streets, started calling aunts and grandparents. I knew for sure they had crashed and died. From time to time family members still bring up this little incident of me “freaking out” back in 1992.
My parents come home about 30-minutes later. Two-johns were out of bread or milk, so my parents drove on up to the Kroger on Harper Road. No major issue. Except, I suffered from anxieties.
I didn’t even know what anxiety was until I went to college and took an intro to psychology class and I was like: that is it. I have that! Laugh aloud.
One of my professors (who was from Africa) in graduate school at Lindsey-Wilson College (Ashland, Kentucky) had told counseling students in the degree program that “all people have stuff.” One of my cohorts said, “not Danny, he is calm.” I made a joke that I took it literal/ concrete and said, “sure, I have stuff. I’m a hoarder. I won’t get rid of my comic book collections. (which I keep in boxes in my closet). Then I added, “yeah, I have issues, they’re called comics.” Laugh aloud. But then I did self-disclose with my cohorts in graduate school that I had anxiety as a child and a teenager and had learned to manage it much better as an adult.
I think getting in touch with any personal issue (mine anxiety and low-grade depression from time to time) has been a strength that has helped me in ways. I feel like I have more empathy for people with mental health needs because I have experienced it.
Here is a link for an article on how to help children with anxiety, based on my experiences, it is good: