Charles Darwin, Barbra Streisand, Laurence Olivier: three names you probably never thought you’d see in the same sentence. But they all share something in common–a struggle with anxiety. Darwin suffered for decades from exhaustion, depression and physical illness; in his 1876 autobiography, he wrote, “During the first part of our residence we went a little into society, and received a few friends here; but my health almost always suffered from the excitement, violent shivering and vomiting attacks being thus brought on. I have therefore been compelled for many years to give up all dinner-parties; and this has been somewhat of a deprivation to me, as such parties always put me into high spirits.” Streisand and Olivier both suffered from paralyzing stage fright; to cope, Olivier used to ask his fellow actors to avoid looking him in the eye.
Anxiety is an issue that affects many of us, yet remains shrouded in shame and secrecy. That’s why Moment’s second annual Elephant in the Room Contest asks readers to address the question: How has anxiety affected you, your family, or the Jewish people in general? Designed to draw attention to important but little-discussed topics in the Jewish community, the Elephant in the Room Contest aims to foster discussion about these important issues. For more information on the contest, which is accepting entries through December 7, click here. Three winners will each receive an iPad, and their essays will be published in print in Moment. This year’s contest is a partnership between Moment and the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.