How do you turn the corner with anxiety?
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 20:30

Guy Mullarkey, a management consultant with a major international company, has had anxious feelings since he was a child. But earlier this year he suffered a major bout of anxiety while at work and he thought his career was over.

He compares his anxiety to an animal.

“It was like being chased by a lion…I literally felt like I was going to die and I couldn’t breathe,” he says.

After this experience, his third major episode of anxiety, Guy decided to seek help and committed to long term improvement using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Unlike Guy, Tim Oberg has no history of anxiety or panic attacks.

But two years ago he had a panic attack as he was about to board a flight to Sydney. It was completely unexpected and out of the blue.

“I've never had any fear of flying and I was sitting in the airport and I thought I was having a heart attack,” he says.

He ended up boarding the flight but collapsed with exhaustion when he returned home. Although the panic attack subsided he remained anxious and took three months off work. Tim was at a loss as to how to deal with it.

“I think because it was so foreign to me, just that, that concept of anxiety and fear was such a foreign thing that I think I was just confused. I didn't really know what was happening, I didn't know what to do, who to talk to,” he says.

Tim said the experience encouraged him to reconsider his approach to work and reassess his priorities.

Deborah Hart, a professional French horn player, has suffered from performance anxiety since she was ten years old. Anxiety made Deborah’s career as a musician extremely challenging.

“You don't win auditions when you fall apart in auditions, so you don't get the job that you want,” she says.

At its worst, Deborah’s anxiety stopped her from playing during two performances. But using a treatment called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Deborah has managed to turn the corner with her anxiety.

Anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness in Australia but it is also one of the most treatable mental health illnesses.

This Insight episode hears from anxiety sufferers about what is helping them beat their anxiety. Beating Anxiety, Tuesday November 6 on SBS and SBS On Demand.


Presenter: Jenny Brockie 

Producer: Jodie Noyce 

Associate producer: Raveen Hunjan