Today Scott Stossel shares his experience of living with debilitating anxiety and phobias. His book, “My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search of Peace of Mind" is part memoir and part medical and pharmaceutical history of anxiety. Stossel is high-functioning despite his various afflictions. He is the editor at The Atlantic Magazine. Contrary to his inner distress, his colleagues often describe him as calm. In his interview he explains why that is:
Some people say that in stressful situations I can seem unflappable, and I think that’s partly because I’m always kind of internally flapped. And so … when there’s actually something real to be concerned about, it’s actually less anxiety-provoking than these irrational things. It’s also fairly typical … of certain kinds of anxiety disorder sufferers, particularly people with panic disorder, [they] are exceptionally good at hiding it. They’re able to convey an impression of competence, calmness and confidence, which is maybe substantially real … but there’s an internal fear. … The gap between that and this façade where people see you as competent and effective — you’re always afraid of being exposed, which is in itself anxiety producing.
One of my more recent therapists calls this phenomenon, Impression Management. Impression Management is not only a symptom of anxiety, because you’re worried about being exposed, but it’s also a cause because you’re constantly worried that the house of cards that is your outward image … is going to come crashing down.
Need to read this.