It is somewhat ironic that I return to my blog after a seven month absence to write about a book I recently read called My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel. While it is clearly not ironic or surprising to encounter a blog entry on anxiety at 4peaceofmind, it is ironic because it is anxiety that has kept me away from my blog.
Those who have explored my site thoroughly will know that the theme of my blog is the following quote from John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” To put it simply, that is the kind of year I had last year. It was difficult, but necessary. Painful, but in many ways quite helpful, and like all challenges, a great learning experience. And being me, of course anxiety was holding my hand tightly the whole way through like my own personal vigilante superhero.
To be honest, anxiety has kept me away from a lot of things. Having had it since the age of 8, I do not expect to ever be completely without it. Although I definitely do hope to eventually be without it and have integrated many strategies for managing it. And I think that’s the best I can do. Accept it as a part of who I am and be willing to take it along for the ride. And of course on many occasions, hate it and curse it as the relentless terrorizer that it is.
A close friend bought me this book for Christmas and I had it finished in little time. Anyone with anxiety will likely already be familiar with the various treatment approaches outlined in the book. What they may not be familiar with are the different perspectives described in the book, both historical and current, and all quite interesting. They may also not realize how many famous people also suffer, or have suffered from, some form of anxiety. These people include Cicero, Gandhi, Barbara Streisand, Hugh Grant, Moses, Freud, and the list goes on and on. Very successful people struggle with anxiety too yet still persevere and reach their full potential.
Anxiety kills relatively few people, but many more would welcome death as an alternative to the paralysis and suffering resulting from anxiety in its severe forms.
David H. Barlow, Anxiety and Its Disorders (2004) in My Age of Anxiety, Scott Stossel (2013)
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a self-help book or recommend it for that purpose. While it is easy to read, at times it does read like a textbook due to all the research and information which is so thorough and comprehensive. It really is beyond impressive.
I would still recommend this book though to those who struggle with any form of anxiety. The reason I would do so is the writer Scott Stossel. He is so honest and open with his own struggles with this exhausting and torturing source and symptom of a variety of disorders. Not only is the book completely validating, it also gives you the gift of really knowing and truly feeling that you are not alone in this. Sometimes just that knowledge and feeling grants strength, courage, and peace of mind more than anything else can…