5.22.04 Anxious about Anxiety
We've signed onto a new video project. The local Mental Health Association got a grant to do community outreach in the area of anxiety disorders in old people. They will be producing a variety of training materials, but have commissioned us to do a 15-minute video that will either accompany a training or be available as a standalone through workplace Employee Assistance Programs.
The idea is basically to tap middle-aged people on the shoulder and say, "Hey, is your mom (or dad) freaking out? If so, stop being annoyed with her for a minute and consider this. Maybe they have an Anxiety Disorder and, you know what? There's help for that."
Part of the deal is filming a few well-acted "vignettes" showing possible situations. The trick is to show people being anxious, not psychotic or senile or merely stressed out. But it's okay if they are somewhat depressed, because anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand.
The problem is, by the time you are old, you've accumulated all kinds of baggage: lifelong personality traits, chronic illnesses, some short-term memory loss, long-standing relationship issues, a pile of regrets, multiple medications, sore feet, and too much wisdom about what a screwed up place the world is. And if you're lucky enough to be long-lived, all your friends have died. So, it may be hard to sift out a specific mental health concern.
But we will try. We're working off the official list of anxiety disorders (panic, phobias, obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic stress and generalized anxiety). Our situations might look something like these (and by now you can tell I'm using this entry to brainstorm):
Okay, enough brainstorming. This has been helpful to get the juices flowing.
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