A pressing question

‘To press someone for an answer,’ has entered the English language as a phrase to suggest emotionally, or in a time-limited way, putting pressure on someone to give a response.

This is not the true sense of the phrase. In the past people were placed on their backs with a stone beneath them and a door or panel placed on top of them to which rocks were added. They were literally ‘pressed for an answer.’ Many died. A ‘pressing question’ was not a searching question asked by Jeremy Paxman of a politician but a question of life or death; answering or not answering.

When you are suffering from anxiety making a decision whether to remain in your job or leave feels like a pressing question in every sense of the phrase.

The chest feels tight and heavy as though pressed by heavy rocks. Adrenaline and cortisol pump through the veins making the heart pound even though the body and mind feels leaden. Rational thought is absent. Decisions take on the weight and size of unbearable rocks.

Will making a decision lighten the load? Will a decision ease the anxiety?

The irony is that when you are pressed by anxiety decision making is too much of a challenge. The pressing question remains pressing but unanswered and your back is bowed. Time will tell if you will break.

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