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Conquering Scary Thoughts

New Video Reaches Out To NZ Youth


A young person with a phobia about germs had washed himself constantly since the age of four years. He would not sit on chairs after other people. From a young age all his toys and books were stacked systematically. Excessive time was spent writing essays and redoing his homework. At ten he started checking the locks and stayed up after his family to complete his rituals. Finally at twelve, he talked to his parents of suicide.

Joanne’s parents remember her being easily upset as a child of two when away from Mum and Dad … later, at school, it became a daily struggle to leave her: she became hysterical. Joanne describes an overwhelming feeling of panic as soon as her parents left the room, when the light was off, going to the toilet on her own, walking down the road. Phobic fear attacks ruled her life and she avoided any situation where these feelings might happen.

Thousands of New Zealanders experience a range of anxiety disorders, all of which have in common an intense and sometimes paralysing sense of fear and worry. Life and freedom become restricted, friendships can disappear and work and school opportunities can be threatened – it is especially difficult for young people, who already cope with unique difficulties and life experiences.

Scary Thoughts, a new video produced by the Phobic Trust, will help to give young people the confidence to talk about their fears, says Trust founder and chief executive Marcia Read.

The Phobic Trust provides 24-hour support services, specialist clinical services, awareness and education initiatives and research for people suffering from anxiety and phobic and obsessive disorders.

Marcia says the video will help young people and their families understand fear, shyness, strange rituals and other disturbing feelings.

“The video will hopefully increase acceptance of the fact that it is normal to have fears, but not normal to have them overwhelm you, or stop you enjoying life. We hope it will create in young people the ability to talk openly about fears and problems that many experience.”

Marcia appears in the recent television advertising campaign to counter the discrimination associated with mental illness.

“A huge part of lifting the stigma is actually educating and informing people. Most people don’t want to willingly discriminate, but are incredibly misinformed about mental illness.”

One in five people will experience mental illness in New Zealand, and one of the more common illnesses is anxiety disorder, including phobia and obsessive behaviour. Symptoms can range from mild to seriously debilitating and can also result in physical health problems.

“Since I was four years old, I’ve had to keep doing things over and over, like repeatedly touching doors and other things. If I don’t, I get scared that something will happen to my family or myself. I have often felt really sad and wanted to end my life.” This young boy’s rituals were eventually joined by silent counting in his mind. “I had to count to nine before I did anything.” He had satanic and terrible nightmares. When he looked at someone, he had to count their eyes, their nose and mouth before he could speak to them. The feelings became worse as he went through puberty. He asked, “Am I mad?”

The video will be launched at a special celebration at Parliament on October 17, called ‘Share your Fear’. The evening will be attended by Commissioner for Children Roger McClay, a long-time supporter of the Trust’s work, as well as a host of young people sponsored to attend the event from around the country. MP Dr. Liz Gordon, who also appears in the television campaign and who has lived with Agoraphobia all her life, will officially launch the video.

For further information, contact:
Marcia Read, Chief Executive, Phobic Trust
Tel: 09- 846 9776 / E-mail: clinic@phobic.co.nz

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