Jon Ronson joined Louis Theroux on his first podcast episode, and it is essential lockdown listening.
Louis Theroux has launched a new podcast during lockdown. Hurrah! We knew Grounded With Louis Theroux was going to be good, but the first episode truly is a treat for Theroux fans, and sees him talking to Jon Ronson.
The two journalists discuss pretty much everything, from life in lockdown to debunking conspiracy theories and reflecting on how their careers have weirdly run parallel (with a side serving of healthy rivalry). It’s funny, insightful, warm and honest – everything you want from a podcast right now. And, quite frankly, I could listen to Ronson speaking all day.
There was one thread of conversation in particular that a lot of listeners who live with anxiety will relate to.
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“I’m fine,” Ronson tells Theroux, after being asked how he is coping during the pandemic. “There’s a weird phenomenon, which I’m sure you’ve noticed – a couple of people have written about it now – that people with anxiety disorders are coping especially well in this situation.”
Ronson explains how he was diagnosed last year with adjustment disorder, describing it as “a mix of panic attacks and anxiety and a little bit of what they call situational depression”. He then goes on to say how this has, in a strange way, helped him to prepare for a crisis.
“It’s a strange thing that you find yourself catastrophising in the most absurd ways,” he says. “You think ‘what’s the point? Why is you brain taking you to these places?’ But maybe now coronavirus is the answer to that question: preparation for a catastrophe. Because when coronavirus started, like a lot of people with anxiety, I found myself very like calm and focused. It’s like: OK I’ve been preparing for this my whole life, so this is what I have to do.”
When Theroux – who reveals he lives with manageable anxiety – suggests this ambient anxiety could be what prevents a meltdown, Ronson replies: “Yeah, anxiety worry is always a ‘what if’ worry. And a psychologist will say the way you can differentiate a real anxiety from an irrational anxiety is when it starts with a what if?’”
Ronson is right – this is a conversation that many people who live with anxiety have having. A recent article by Harvard Medical School says: “Anxiety helps us prepare to respond in a more adaptive and healthy way.” And one writer penned a piece in the Washington Post, describing how the pandemic has actually eased her anxiety.
If you’re really with anxiety at the moment, you can contact mental health charity Mind. You can call their helpline on 0300 123 3393 or visit their online guidesheet about dealing with anxiety during the pandemic.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…