How 'Winnie the Pooh' Helps Me Cope With Anxiety
My 10-year-old niece asked me, “You’re 22. Why do you still love ‘Winnie the Pooh’ so much?”
To her I responded with a simple, “It’s just so fun!” but it’s way more than that…
Are y’all familiar with the study that has been done on the characters in Winnie the Pooh? It suggests that every character in this beloved children’s story can be identified to one (of more) disorders.
- Winnie the Pooh – impulsivity with obsessive fixations.
- Piglet – generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Rabbit – obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Kanga – social anxiety
- Christopher Robin – schizophrenia
- Eeyore – major depressive disorder
- Owl – dyslexia
- Tigger – attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
This list feels quite accurate when you start thinking about it. And although I’ve liked Winnie the Pooh since I was a kid, it became something special soon after reading about this theory.
When I got my first anxiety attack, I found myself identifying with this little pink cartoon character more than I had ever done before. I went from fun and bubbly to shaky and scared. In a matter of minutes. Just as I had seen Piglet do so many times…
As I got more and more into the Hundred Acre Wood, I also got more and more into learning about anxiety disorder. Slowly I learned to stop myself from being anxious about being anxious… I started to accept I had an anxiety disorder. My focus point changed from healing myself to dealing with it.
The moment I stopped fighting it, it became easier. It didn’t go away. It didn’t disappear… in fact – when I think about it – I don’t think my anxiety changed at all. But I had. I didn’t push anxiety attacks away anymore. I finally allowed myself to admit that: I wasn’t OK all the time.
I learned to do as Piglet does. Piglet goes on big adventures but let’s everyone know when she’s anxious. She’s always hiding behind Pooh, always letting him know she’s frightened. I know some see her as a cry baby, but to me she’s a hero! She allows herself to be who she is. Bubbly one second, anxious the next. She talks to herself the same way I do – I can do this. This isn’t so bad. – but most of all, she doesn’t turn an adventure down. Even though she’s anxious and frightened and her thoughts mess with her a lot… she’s always there!
I’ve visited therapists a lot in my life. But sometimes you need something a little different to really help you. And it turned out I needed a Disney-animated film. A children’s book. A little pink anxious character to help me see I wasn’t alone and that having an anxiety disorder doesn’t make you weak or any less awesome.