Angela Scanlon health: Presenter ‘fearful’ of condition – ‘I thought I was losing my mind’

Angela Scanlon reveals that she 'doesn't like stew'

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Making her first appearance hosting Robot Wars back in 2016, the Irish red-head frequently hosted The One Show on BBC One in the absence of Alex Jones. The presenter started off in journalism, writing fashion and style columns for many well-known publications, but one thing she has had since childhood is her anxiety. The star is so worried that she tried not to label herself as anxious, in fear that it will make the condition even more real.

Talking to The the star said that she has had “weird separation anxiety” since she was a child.

“I obviously had no idea what anxiety was aged six but have recently been Googling it, fearful that I may still have it, “ Angela continued to say.

Nowadays it’s less about crying for my mam and dad while sitting on the gable of a gate in Galway waiting for nine hours for them to arrive.”

Separation anxiety is a type of mental health problem that is common in children. Stanford Children’s health states that a child with separation anxiety will worry a lot when being apart from their family members.

Angela describes these exact symptoms saying: “I feared they’d never appear…That scared the c*** out of me.

“I clung to my teddy – a cheap, white Christmas bear with a green scarf. I called him ‘Fester’ which is quite a creepy name for a teddy. I think it was after the ugly uncle in The Addams Family. Anyway, I clung to him believing their plane would fall from the sky or the car would crash and I would never see them again.

“I would be alone in this world, me and Fester, Fester and I. I felt hysterical and breathless but never said it out loud. I knew how irrational it sounded. But it didn’t go away.”

Reflecting on her experiences as a child, Angela recognises that as an adult she still suffers from anxiety – albeit on a different level.

The star continued to say: “Even today, the anxiety I feel remains largely silent. Partly because I don’t know if it’s a real, legitimate thing and partly because the idea of labelling it makes me feel like it’s already won.

“But that breathless, heavy feeling in my chest and the notion that the walls are closing in around me feels very real, so I’m caught in an odd little predicament of internal dialogue that makes my head implode from time to time.”

Separation anxiety can continue into adulthood and it is often caused by another anxiety-related condition such as panic disorder, agoraphobia or generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety in general is one of the most common mental health conditions in the UK.

It affects individuals in different ways, but usually has physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms.

Some of the most common physical symptoms are:

  • Increased heart rate or increased muscle tension
  • ‘Jelly legs’ or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation (breathing too heavily) or dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing or a tight band across the chest
  • Wanting to use the toilet more often
  • Feeling sick
  • Tension headaches
  • Hot flushes or increased perspiration
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking or palpitations
  • Choking sensations.

Some of the most common psychological symptoms include feeling that:

  • You might lose control and/or go ‘mad’; or feelings that you might die
  • You might have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
  • People are looking at you and noticing your anxiety
  • Things are speeding up/slowing down
  • You’re detached from your environment and the people in it
  • You want to run away/escape from the situation
  • You’re on edge and alert to everything around you.

For Angela, her anxiety reached a climax when she tried to jump out of a moving car. Talking about the incident she said: “I once felt like I was suffocating and attempted to jump out of a moving car. It was a tad more dramatic than even I enjoy. The car suddenly felt very small, the roof was lowering and I couldn’t breathe. I’ve since been told it was a panic attack but at the time I thought I was losing my mind.”

Unwilling to take tablets daily for her condition, the presenter sometimes turned to Rescue Remedy pastilles as they distracted her from her anxious thoughts.

Despite her flaws, Angela has come to accept her thoughts and sometimes anxious self.

She added: “The scary moments of self doubt and crippling fear are contrasted with an invincibility that enables me to get stuff done and live life at full capacity. That swinging of the pendulum, the rollercoaster in my little red head can be exhausting, but I’d rather the highs and the lows than the dull throbbing, bobbing of a boat on a lake.”

If you feel like you might suffer from anxiety, or know someone who does then it is advised that you go and talk to your GP. A variety of treatment options are available to those with anxiety including therapy and medication.

In some cases individuals are able to practise self-help techniques to help them curb the effects of anxiety. This includes relaxation techniques, stress management, exercise and a dependable support network.

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