According to the PANDAS Foundation, 52% of parents they surveyed said they had experienced postnatal anxiety. Yet, despite the commonality of the condition, anxiety remains a societal taboo. 

This misunderstood condition leaves sufferers convinced that they're weak, underestimating what they achieve. However, through vulnerability, comes courage.

When you think about courage, your mind will likely wander to images of fearless firefighters running into burning buildings, or perhaps a child finally standing up to the school bully. Those things take enormous bravery, but there are other less-obvious situations where people show quiet strength in the face of fear.

Continuing to put one foot in front of the other when they feel like lead.

Keeping their eyes open when the normal light of day feels blinding.

Forcing themselves to focus when they're under attack from constant invasive thoughts.

The signs experienced by anxiety sufferers are wide-ranging and no one size fits all. Typical symptoms include increased heart rate, dilated pupils, racing thoughts and an impending sense that something is about to go terribly wrong. These feelings are all caused by the natural and instinctive 'fight-or-flight' auto-response. At its' core anxiety is a helpful emotion, protecting us from danger. Though any sufferer will tell you, when fight-or-flight is out-of-control, life is a constant marathon.

Those who live with anxiety will struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed, living their lives on high alert. Irrational worries often develop into being a fear of fear itself; becoming anxious about being anxious. Their logical brain is silenced by their unruly amygdala, unable to easily stop it from running wild. Safety behaviours provide temporary relief, avoiding situations that give them butterflies. Many affected suffer in silence, gradually losing confidence, opportunities and even friendships.

Yet, they often face normal-life situations head-on, having no other choice but to cope. They get out of bed, tired from a night of interrupted sleep, and take their children to school. They stand in a crowd of parents and excitable children making small talk, hiding behind dark glasses. They drive to work, thoughts of being in a car accident swarming through their minds. They cook their children dinner, wondering when the vision of their child choking on it will pass. Adrenaline soaring through their bodies, they do what other people do every day, taking on what's thrown at them.

There is an archaic falsehood that the millions of people who struggle with anxiety are weak in character. In truth, it takes great strength to carry on with everyday life when you are met with a barrage of challenges. Managing crippling anxiety symptoms with determination is something to be admired and to take pride in. Though, the most courageous thing an anxiety sufferer will ever do, is reach out for help.