Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - HEALTH -

In 2006, chil­dren’s TV pre­sen­ter Anna Wil­liamson found her­self in the grip of a crip­pling anx­i­ety dis­or­der. As she writes in her new book Break­ing Mad: The In­sider’s Guide to Con­quer­ing Anx­i­ety (€18.20): ‘I im­ploded big time – a con­coc­tion of stress that had built up due to a tricky re­la­tion­ship, a pres­sured job that re­quired a smile to be plas­tered on my face at all times and a gen­eral in­abil­ity to talk about my feel­ings to any­one.’

On what she calls ‘melt­down day’, she was fraz­zled with in­som­nia, anx­i­ety, stab­bing ch­est pains and ‘a foggy mush of a brain’. A con­cerned col­league asked, ‘Anna, are you OK?’ and the dam burst, un­leash­ing months of pent-up feel­ings.

That first sim­ple en­quiry led to Anna get­ting help – ini­tially time off work, talk­ing ther­apy and short-term med­i­ca­tion to help her sleep. She set about a mis­sion of self-dis­cov­ery and now has coun­selling, life coach­ing and neuro-lin­guis­tic pro­gram­ming in her anx­i­ety-bust­ing tool­kit. Her book, which also con­tains ad­vice from clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Reetta Newell, of­fers ways of cop­ing and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions for times when you need a help­ing hand.

The most im­por­tant first step, em­pha­sises Anna, is to talk to some­one – whether that’s a fam­ily mem­ber, friend or health pro­fes­sional. ‘It never fails to amaze me how much lighter some­one is after they have off­loaded their wor­ries, stresses and anx­ious thoughts.’

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