Anxiety Alliance

Some stats

Eighteen percent of the adult population in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders

Only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment

One in eight children are affected by anxiety disorders

Nearly half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder

Some links

• Anxiety and Depression Associateion of America
• American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
• The Dark Side of Creativity

This is by no means a complete list of resources. It’s just a small collection of sites we find helpful and/or of interest. If you think there is a link that should be added to our list, email us and let us know!

What’s this all about?

Living with anxiety can be a real downer, am I right? Trust us, we know. Because we have both been affected by anxiety in our own way, as are many creative people, this is a cause that is near and dear.

Besides the constant battle in your head, there’s the very real fear that revealing your anxiety issues to others will bring on the stigma that surrounds mental illness. The goal of the anxiety alliance is to help alleviate that stigma by letting fellow anxiety sufferers know that they aren’t alone— we’ve got you. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, and are highly treatable, yet many people never seek help. That needs to change, and it starts by making it OK to admit to battling with anxiety.

Who’s in the alliance? Anyone who wants to help perpetuate the idea that having anxiety does not mean you’re broken, or weak, or crazy. Whether you suffer yourself, or support someone who does, you are not alone! Join us in our efforts to normalize the idea that mental illness does not define a person.

We’re all in this together!

Helping the cause

Dawn hand-lettered our original anxiety alliance artwork, and we’ve made it available on a whole slew of products in our shop. Each month, we will donate a percentage of all Anxiety Alliance product purchases to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. So show your support, and help others at the same time!

AD Aesthetic is in no way endorsed by or affiliated with ADAA. We just like to do what we can to help out.

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Dawn’s Story

In 2011, I was driving home from my doctor’s office in tears, when I called my sister for some perspective. I told her about the diagnosis I’d just gotten, one that I was having trouble processing… Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I wasn’t sure how to feel. What I remember most is feeling scared but also relieved, but also scared. I had gone in for an appointment initially convinced that I had cancer, because I was having difficulty swallowing for several months. I had just had my first daughter, and was completely panicked that she would have to grow up without a mother when I died from throat cancer. I was also still grieving over the sudden loss of a very close friend, even though it had been more than two years earlier. So mortality (both mine and that of my loved ones) was on my mind constantly. Finding out that I was cancer free was a relief for sure, but on the other hand, I had grown up with a grandmother who suffered from severe Paranoid Schizophrenia, and at the time, all I could think was that I didn’t have cancer because instead I was crazy like Grandma. I didn’t want to be broken, or crazy, or need medicine for the rest of my life just to feel normal.

I rambled all this off to my sister through my tears while she listened patiently. And then my twin, the person who probably knows me better than anyone else said the best thing she could have said to me at that moment when I was scared and upset and had just told her I had GAD.

“Well, yeah… of course you do. I’m honestly not surprised by that at all.”

That comment pretty much shocked me into really listening to her, as she recounted scenes from our childhood of me hiding in my closet to get away from everyone and everything. Or whispering things in her ear that I wanted her to say out loud because I was too anxious to talk to people. Or crying uncontrollably when a babysitter came over because I thought my parents were going to die in a fiery car accident and never come home. Or forcing my mom to walk me around the house night after night so I could see that all the doors and windows were locked and no one was coming to kidnap me. And that’s when I started to realize that this WAS my normal, and that it was ok.

Since that day, I’ve been on and off several different types of medication, benefited from behavioral therapy, and come to terms with the fact that I’m probably never going to be anxiety free. But that doesn’t mean it has to run my life or that I have to live with the physical symptoms I’m prone to (difficulty swallowing, cold sweats, heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, and so on).

After a lifetime of anxiety and nearly five years with a GAD diagnosis, I’ve finally decided to own it. It’s part of who I am… how I think and react to things. It’s the dark side of what makes me so creative. The ability to come up with creative solutions and ideas and designs and projects just happens to moonlight as the ability to imagine worst case scenarios and gruesome scenes so vividly.

So I have anxiety, and I’m ok, and I refuse to be ashamed. Anxiety Alliance, y’all!

Ashley’s Story

My story is a little different from Dawn’s, in that I fall into the two-thirds of people who haven’t sought treatment for anxiety. In the past year, through conversations with Dawn (as well as my partner Sara who just so happens to be a therapist), I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that I likely have an anxiety disorder. I haven’t sought treatment because it never felt like that big of a deal, and calling the doctor as well as going to the doctor gives me anxiety, so I continue to put it off.

I’ve struggled with anxiety issues most of my life. As a child, I obsessive-compulsively checked the locks on all the household doors 2-3 times each night because I was certain I would be kidnapped. I once remember asking my grandma to keep a stuffed bunny she gave me at her house because it might catch on fire and burn my house down if I brought it home. I hid from everyone and everything and preferred clinging to my mom’s legs to socializing with my cousins, aunts and uncles at family gatherings. I was, what my mom called, “a worrier” and that’s all I’ve ever thought of it as- worry, until it really started to impact my life.

It happened about two years ago when we were on a plane headed to Chicago. We hit some bad weather and had to circle above the airport for an hour before ultimately being diverted to Milwaukee. I’d flown a dozen times before, and even briefly toyed with the idea of being an airline stewardess, but something about this turbulence – this storm – felt different. My stomach bottomed out, my palms started to sweat, I got cold sweats and feared I would throw up. We landed. I’ve had anxiety about flying ever since, even thinking about it ties my stomach in knots.

Since that day, I’ve began experiencing this feeling over and over again, more and more intensely, in all kinds of circumstances. The most recent incident being my urge to abruptly leave a nearly empty movie theater because my creative mind had decided that the loner gentleman in the front row was going to murder us. I was so throughly convinced that my sane, rational partner even called the theater to have someone check in after we left. That was the moment I realized that I need to seek professional help, but the reality is I’m still working on getting to a place where I’m ready to make that step. So I guess you could say that this story is to be continued…