Can we open-source anxiety?

Anxiety is okAccording to the mental health charity Mind, around 25% of people who took part in the Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2016 had some form of mental disorder. With 5.9/100 having a Generalised Anxiety Disorder and 7.8/100 having mixed anxiety and depression it’s clear that mental health is a pretty big issue. So what can we do about it?

Suffering from anxiety

I myself suffer from anxiety and I can tell you it’s no fun! At times even the most simplistic human activities such as looking at the notifications on my phone or acting “normal” in front of people can seem near impossible.

A book I started reading recently called The pragmatic programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andrew Hunt (which is a real eye opener by the way) suggests that every activity can be seen as an exercise in programming. This got me thinking, can we open-source anxiety? Could it possibly expose (excessive) anxiety for what it is, a problem that can be solved together? What would that look like?

No centralised, freely available code base

Ok so I may not be using open-source in the correct/traditional sense, I thought it sounded cool, forgive me. I understand there’s no publicly available code base that people can just hop into and start modifying/improving. But we can make it publicly known that we struggle with anxiety to the people/groups we connect with.

I know what you’re thinking, the last time you met with someone and said “sorry if I’m a bit weird I’m feeling anxious” *tumbleweed* the conversation probably didn’t end too well (yes this is a situation I’ve been in) but in the same breath putting on a brave face while internally feeling like you might just tear your own skin off isn’t much of a solution either.

So what CAN we do about it?

One solution that comes to mind is making it public knowledge that you struggle with anxiety but without the need to announce it explicitly. I was thinking of something like a symbol e.g a hashtag #Aok for social networks, a sticker for your mac or badge to wear (could be especially useful at conferences).

The problem with making anxiety publicly available is that it requires doing something that aggravates anxiety, exposing it. The “what ifs” have the potential to start running wild…what if someone asks me what the badge means!!! Would they think I’m weird? That I’m seeking some sort of sympathy? Oh dear, I can feel the hot flushes now. However, on the flip side what if walking into a conference wearing #Aok was commonplace? With multiple people wearing the badge, what if it became so commonly known and accepted that people actively supported it?

What do you think?

I’d be really interested in knowing other peoples thoughts are about this, especially if you struggle with anxiety. Feel free to tweet/dm me on twitter @itsdannylalala

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