Tomorrow marks 2 years to the day that Claire Eastham’s, We’re All Mad Here was published (where does the time go!). ‘The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety’ was written with honesty, humour, and included plenty of practical advice. So far We’re All Mad Here has been awarded over 50 five star reviews on Amazon, and helped thousands of people around the world. We asked Claire for her reflections two years on which you can read below.
It’s the biggest cliché in the world, but if you would’ve told me three years ago that I was going to write a bestselling book on anxiety, I’d have laughed in your face – then promptly pushed past you on my way to the toilets to throw up!
Yet, here we are. The woman who once ran out of a meeting room, then all the way down The Strand in London, whilst convincing herself that she’d ruined her life, is an author.
I think I was probably born with social anxiety, but it wasn’t diagnosed until after that fateful day.
Despite what you might think, the disorder is not a fear of people (with the exception of Trump and ALL of the Kardashians), but rather a fear of being judged negatively on a constant basis.
Thus, in the past, rather than being present in a conversation, I would be scanning the person’s face, looking for signs that they thought I was “boring”, “stupid” or “weird”. My inner monologue was one of pure negativity. “You’re a loser”, “why did you say that?”, “Why can’t you just be like everyone else?” Then there’s the physical symptoms. Blushing, tremors, sweating, nausea.
This entire package of horrors made social events impossible.
However, after I was diagnosed, I took some time out to heal. I finally accepted that I wasn’t weak, I had a genuine mental illness. It was a slow process, but via medication, therapy and being honest with the people closest to me, I became stronger.
The blog was born out of a simple desire to translate the mysteries of medical jargon with regard to the brain. I wanted to help others understand in basic terms what; Serotonin, Cortisol and Amygdala actually meant. There’s nothing worse than being diagnosed with something that already sounds alarming, and then have the doctor talk to you in what feels like a foreign language!
I wanted to normalise everything about mental health. To help others realise that not only were they not alone, but that their condition could be managed.
The book was a natural extension of this, and my desire to share the techniques that I’d learned over the years… Along with personal stories that I hope would make readers laugh.
It has now been available for two years and the success is still truly humbling.
It also inspired me to campaign for mental health awareness publicly, which I still continue to do via keynote speeches and being an ambassador for the charity MQ. I also ended up at Downing Street on World Mental Health Day. That was certainly a surprise!
These days, whenever I talk to someone who is having trouble accepting mental health, my analogy is simple, “You wouldn’t ignore a broken leg (I hope), so why should the brain be any different?”
Brain, body – same respect.
Read an excerpt about living with social anxiety at University
You can find Claire’s award winning blog here, and find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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