Saturday 15 December 2018

Dear Mary: Anxiety is ruining my life

Photo posed by model
Photo posed by model

Mary O’Conor

I am writing to you because I am experiencing overwhelming anxiety. This affects me everywhere I go and has affected my social life for the past 10 years.

I am 30 years of age and am finding it very difficult to sustain any kind of a relationship due to my anxiety.

I fear social situations and act really awkwardly at times when placed in a situation in which I feel uncomfortable.

When people come too close to me in the workplace, I start to feel very unsettled and it's got to the point now where people know something is wrong.

Thank God it's not affecting my ability to get my job done, however it is affecting my concentration because as soon as somebody comes close to me to engage in conversation or even to talk to somebody near me, I tense up.

It happens particularly when I am confronted with a figure of authority. I have had many traumas in life since a young age and I know I'm experiencing this due to everything I've been through.

I just want it to stop. It's destroying my life, my confidence, my relationships and my social life!

I'm both depressed and anxious over this and it's a lethal combination.

Mary replies: I agree that suffering with both depression and anxiety is quite a combination and I am so glad that you have decided to reach out for help.

Be assured that there is a lot of help out there, and bear in mind that a very large number of people suffer with anxiety and extreme worry, so you are not alone. Anxiety responds very well to cognitive behavioural therapy which is a type of treatment that helps people understand the thoughts and feelings that influence their behaviours - including depression and anxiety.

It is generally quite a short-term intervention and gets you to identify and change the destructive thought patterns that have a negative influence on your behaviour and your emotions.

I don't know where you live, but in Dublin there are a number of therapists at Mind and Body Works ( who work within the CBT framework. Alternatively, you can consult and look under 'Find a Therapist' to find somebody in your area.

Another avenue for you to explore would be the books of GP Dr Harry Barry, who appears regularly on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio. In particular his Anxiety and Panic will help you gain an understanding of what is going on in your mind that causes you to be so anxious and will provide you with some practical solutions to overcome it.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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