Melissa Powex • 18th May 2017


Oxford Dictionary – ‘A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. 

Similar to my writing on depression – anxiety is one word that describes many feelings and experiences. As a mental health nurse and having trained in psychoanalytic observation, I like to think that I am quite good at reading people. I can see through the awkward smile, the nervous laugh and the anxious silence. The faces of anxiety are different, they never look quite the same but where does anxiety come from really?!

Although many might think that Freud still is highly Taboo and his writings were mad – he started writing about things that have led to much greater understanding and development of how our unconscious is understood. From Freud’s work there have been lots of theories, works, thoughts, different ways of working and trying to understand what drives people’s behaviors and different people believe different things based in part to individual experience, upbringing, where people live in the world, cultural and religious beliefs…the list goes on.

However, from my education specifically of Freud and Melanie Klein at The Tavistock, my understanding of anxiety comes from our really early experiences.

Some describe the first trauma of life (and experience of anxiety) to be the experience of birth – imagine being a baby – in quite a lot of pain, hearing screaming and shouting, experience your parents anxiety, fear, pain, stress, the atmosphere in the room – as a baby that has zero understanding of emotion. That must be terrifying!! The importance of skin to skin and closeness to mum in the first minutes is important to give the baby an experience of closeness, and to physically hold the baby together as it has gone from a very cosy inside world to a very exposed, scary and frightening outside world.

The baby then has no idea about when they are going to eat, drink, get love, be clean. Previously, the womb had taken care of it all and no one else was required physically to meet their needs. Parents need to learn how to respond and this is a journey of parents and baby together. 

As you develop - Imagine – you are a tiny helpless little thing and you don’t know where mummy or daddy is, there is no noise, you are in your crib and you wake up hungry with a full nappy. Your experience is ‘OH MY GOD!!!!! WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!’ Probably not a dissimilar experience to a potential Saturday morning after a careless and messy Friday night!? ;-)

This is where anxiety stems from - how did your parents manage your anxiety situations as a baby?! Do you know?!

Now this could lead to a blame game of ‘how did my parents parent and what did they do right or wrong?!’ And this is where some of the difficulties come with counselling/psychotherapy/analysis. However, some of your anxieties will have been learned behaviors, but some babies learn to manage and cope better than others. The root of everyone’s anxiety is different and a later life trauma can also create anxiety that was never there as a child.

Everyone will have a different experience of anxiety and to different levels.

My goal is for people to understand that everyone will experience anxiety and in different ways. Coping mechanisms are the important and sometimes difficult part.