Two Stories of Anxiety and How to Overcome the Symptoms

John and Joanna do not know one another. They have never met, and yet the similar symptoms in their lives are as a result of learned beliefs and perceptions. Are you John, or Joanne?

Anxiety occurs in many ways, and the associated symptoms can manifest it more ways still. From phobia to social anxiety and fear of open spaces to fear of flying. Common as these types are, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) GAD is a common condition and according to the NHS, is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population and more common between the ages of 35 and 59.

Do you worry and become physically anxious at most everything? It may be, however, that it is one primary and prevalent issue that creates those worries for you, rather than the perception of ‘everything’ – and these individuals will also receive our attention today.

Meet John

John is a 35-year-old sales manager, but he could be anyone in any profession or title. In his role, John often has to give sales presentations and this ought not to present any issues, given his success in climbing the corporate ladder.

Unfortunately, before each important event, John is to be found in the bathroom, sweating, hyperventilating, and feeling physically sick – but he has no idea why. He is a success, after all. He is confident, outgoing and popular – yet.

In this scenario, John eventually figures it’s time to ditch his concerns around seeing a counsellor and decides it’s too important, even if this might mean he might feel a failure. The prevalence around stigma in mental health is improving but sadly so many still endure emotional distress for way longer than is ever necessary.


After just a couple of meetings with his new counsellor, John finds himself surprised at how the process is. He finds it a human experience, non-judgemental and safe for him in which to explore what might be happening for him and to consider new, positive ways for his future.

The Big Reveal

Once John was relaxing into the flow of conversation and exploration, he recalls a time at school, some three decades before where he was forcibly made to stand up in front of the class and recount his summer holidays, much to the delight of the bully boys who laughed at him throughout the experience.

Cognitive Mistakes

John may have forgotten this event at a conscious level, but his subconscious mind had not. The internal mechanism designed to save John from harm was mistakenly trying to protect him from a perceived adverse event, based on the cognitions of so may years past. The re-minder as he prepares to deliver each presentation today, readily available but based on outdated information.

John will go on to acknowledge and heal the past, learn new relaxation and grounding techniques for the future and be able to live once again without that anxiety for this situation. His sleep, diet, relationships and work performance will benefit, as will his general physical and emotional health.

Meet Joanne

Joanne works in administration at a large accountancy firm. She is 48, a mother of two sons – and going through a divorce from her husband of 25 years.

Joanne has been pulled into meetings recently with her boss and the HR dept due to her “growing behaviour issues” at work.  Colleagues are complaining they feel intimidated by her, of late; clients are also complaining she has been “short” with them in her communications.

Workplace Support

Fortunately, Joanne’s employers recognise her service to the firm and have adopted a proactive approach to supporting her. In agreement with Joanne, they offer to pay for 6-10 sessions once she finds a therapist.

A Sense of Overwhelm

During sessions, a host of events come to light from throughout Joanne’s life, culminating most recently with the acrimonious marital situation, her subsequent anxiety over the welfare of the children, possible loss of the family home and her place in this world as a soon to become ‘singleton.’

Naturally, Joanne felt angry; feeling powerless and unheard, this began to manifest in the only ‘safe’ place she had left – the workplace.

Vent Time with the Impartial

In time, Joanne was able to benefit from the time spent openly discussing her feelings and the domestic situation and became able to gain a fresh perspective and even consider the positives of being outside of a love-less marriage. Her performance at work improved and she transitioned through the divorce in a healthier way than had been previously available.  In being able to ‘ground’ herself more often, skilfully, sleep and diet improved which in turn improved energy and moods. Resilience to setbacks also became available to her once again so that although life is never perfect for long, she had a return of that ‘bounce-back ability’.

In Summary

These are just two examples of a myriad of situations we all find ourselves in and suffering from, for fear of judgement, or, for concern around the perception of stigma. There are countless more examples and no doubt some of those would resonate with you! Most are available to have the symptoms reduced or resolved using counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapymindfulness practice and coaching.

The most successful in our societies surround themselves with guides and counsel. Will you? 

AND for an engaging extra read, you will enjoy ANXIETY MOUSE

About the author
Managing Director / Counsellor at Anglia Counselling Ltd | 07747042899 | [email protected] | Business Website

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).