Andrea Peterson, author of On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety, writes that the greatest risk factor for an anxiety disorder is not genetics, past trauma or stressful life experiences.
Simply, it’s being born female.
A study released over the weekend by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, found that 40 per cent of Australian women have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression by a doctor or psychologist.
A “concerning” number expressed issues with sleep and reported, “worrying excessively about different things”.
For most of us, 40 per cent looks very much like two meaningless digits. We can’t quantify it – and we certainly can’t feel it. “Worrying excessively,” sounds clinical and emotionless, when anxiety is by it’s very nature emotional.
So what do those statistics actually look like?
They look like lying under your bed for hours at a time, yet feeling as though you’re tripping down a flight of stairs. It’s moving through the world believing you’re an empty vessel – watching yourself from above, convinced you’re in a dream.
It’s chronic, unwavering guilt. It’s self-sabotage – preparing for things that matter to you and freezing. It’s lying awake in bed at 4am, feeling as though there’s a tonne of bricks on your chest. It’s hating yourself more than you’ve ever hated anyone. It’s believing a terrorist attack or a natural disaster is imminent. It’s wondering if these heart palpations will kill you.