Home Columnists Donal Miller: I’m anxious … are you?

Donal Miller: I’m anxious … are you?

Donal Miller and Mick O' Dwyer, pictured recently

I told my wife the idea for my next contribution to LaoisToday, to which she responded, “you’re not qualified to talk on that subject, stick to funny things”. I assured her if that Bressie lad could talk on it, so could I.

I come from experience. I’ve experienced nervous times before a football match. It never seemed to matter whether it was an intermediate league match or a Leinster final (I felt compelled to include that but we’ll talk about that another time)!! The day of a match I’m nervous as hell and visit the bathroom several times. I hate that feeling, but I’ve learnt to accept it.

Lots of people I know experience anxiety too, but on a greater scale. While it’s still the same feeling, albeit more intense, it can cause some to become paralysed by fear.

For me, once the match is over, my anxiety is gone. For others it lingers on and this is when help is beneficial. And help works. Friends that I know, at one stage housebound by their anxiety, socialise more than any 18-year-old!

Who doesn’t suffer from their nerves

It annoys me when I hear people say, “that lad suffers from his nerves”. Who doesn’t? Some of us have learned coping techniques through sport, or therapy such as CBT or other means. Others still have to find their techniques. But I call bulls**t on anyone that claims they don’t know what anxiety is.

Think back to that feeling before your driving test or an interview or presentation. Everyone has anxiety, some have more severe anxiety but they aren’t any weaker a human being, they’re far stronger than they realise. I applaud them.

My sister-in-law explained it through this analogy. She’s a pharmaceutical rep. “Imagine holding a glass of water in your hand with your arm held out straight for one minute – fine. Now for five minutes – your arm might feel uncomfortable. Now for two hours – very uncomfortable. And now for 12 hours – very painful”.

Imagine that glass of water is your anxiety. Over time it can become exhausting. But what’s even more exhausting is trying to hide it.

Anxiety isn’t bad, like alcohol, when consumed in moderation. The most intelligent and talented people I know have anxiety. I met Mick O’Dwyer in Castle Durrow two months ago and it brought back a memory.

Micko once told me that he worries about the lad in the dressing room that’s too relaxed and has no nerves. It’s those nerves that get our adrenaline pumping, the same adrenaline experienced by ‘anxious’ people.

For sports players, it causes your heart to pump quicker, your eyes to dilate and you to run quicker than your opponent. What’s bad about that? Well, in a match we ‘run it off’ but in an office environment you’d be given an odd few glances if you proceeded to do laps of your four-by-four meter cubicle!

I hope to revisit this topic at a later date to share techniques that have helped others but at the same time I’m not a qualified doctor. My main purpose in writing this article is to let you know you aren’t the only person and to try make anxiety less alien.

Everyone should feel comfortable, be it in a dressing room or at a kitchen table saying, “I feel crap today, I’m anxious as hell” and the conversation can move from there.

I’ll leave you with a list of five celebrities that have overcome some form or another of anxiety:

  • I’ll start with my main man Bressie! Don’t know what the women see in him! I’ve that chiselled jaw going on too!
  • We all remember Ellie Goulding from her Electric Picnic Debut but she too experienced debilitating panic attacks.
  • One of my favourite golfers, Bubba Watson. Bbbbbbbbuuuuuubbbbaaaaaa.
  • Adele experienced anxiety and stage fright.
  • And finally, Chris Hoy the cyclist, who won a total of six Olympic gold medals for Great Britain.

SEE ALSO – 22 unforgettable things about the nightclub in Pedigree Corner

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Donal Miller hails from the picturesque village of Vicarstown. Married to Emma, they have one daughter Beth-Anne. He enjoys football, politics, farming and generally anything that's newsworthy. His proudest achievement is kicking a point in the Leinster final in 2003 as well as winning the Laois Javelin. You can follow him on Twitter on @millerdonal