Everyone speaks about the black dog, but no one mentions its best friend… Anxiety,
or how I see it, a distorted version of myself,
after all — humans are a dog’s best friend.
Please press play before you start reading the rest of the article and follow the prompt as it states. Use headphones for better effect.
When I was a little girl, I would cry a lot and eventually my crying would turn into big heaving gulps as I gasped for air and my heart felt like it was going to fall out. I assumed this was the next stage of crying… little did I know that I was experiencing a panic attack, a prominent symptom that can be caused by anxiety.
As I became older and started primary school, every night I would wet the bed and every morning I would throw up. If I didn’t, that was considered a miracle by my parents. I went to doctors and eventually specialists, yet no one could find a cause. Again little did I (or they) know this was again another symptom of my anxiety.
High school came and my anxiety decided to take a new direction and I had constant negative thoughts that to me felt like voices in my head. Despite all logic that told me to otherwise, I fell for these words HARD and believed them with my whole being.
They told me I was FAT, UGLY, ALONE & HATED
As my teenage years came to an end, I thought, I was finally free. I mean no more high school, my mother gave me more freedom, I could almost do whatever I wanted, go out, sleep over, drink, party, schoolies, the list seemed endless yet why couldn’t I leave my bedroom? Why did I feel anchored to my bed? Why could I not put one foot in front of the other and just w -a — l — — k out of my room? Why was it if I did manage to get out, I was fixated on my phone, oblivious to my surroundings or, my personal favourite, stranded in a strange bathroom, frozen in place, tears streaming down my face?
No one knew any of these struggles, but I did become known as a stuck up bitch and eventually I lost almost everyone.
Now the question is, have you been able to read anything so far, with the audio clip in the background?
That’s okay, have a rest, have a break, I’ll still be here.
Do whatever, YOU need to do. To be able to read the article again
Yes, you can mute the video
What you just heard was a variety of people and their personal experience with anxiety
If there is one thing you walk away with,
Anxiety is completely subjective
Each person gets a personalised experience, catered just for them, formed from the context of their life.
Aren’t we lucky?
The reason behind the audio is that for me reading large texts can be extremely difficult, especially when my anxiety is heightened.
This was my way of letting you the reader experience what a symptom of anxiety can feel like.
So, (back to my little life story)
It was at this point that the people that did stick by me, told me enough was enough and I needed to get help. They explained that they would still be here for me and help me but I needed more than what they could give to me.
It was at age 20 that I met Catherine, a clinical psychologist and I am grateful everyday that I met her.
It was through her I was given an official diagnosis of PTSD, otherwise known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now I know what you’re thinking, how can I an ‘average’ person have PTSD…I can’t be a hardened war veteran,? Or am I? Just kidding, I’m not…so how did I get a diagnosis of PTSD?
Well…you see. I have a history of childhood sexual assault along with emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse. So you can imagine…yes, that would eventually leave a mark on my psyche.
The above infographic details how PTSD operates as a severe form of anxiety.
Well here’s another infographic about Anxiety…because let’s be real, images are soooooo much better for learning things
What can I do if I have Anxiety?
As the infographic says, relax….there’s nothing broken with you.
Here are a few small activities you can do to help yourself.
- Take a deep breath and count to 10. Just taking a moment can do a world of good.
- Meditate. There are some great apps out there that can help you if you are new to meditation and don’t know what to do. One of my personal favourites is Smiling Minds.
- Get Creative. Whether it’s physical or online, doing something creative is a great way to help calm down and keep your mind of things. You can buy different colouring books or try different online websites
- Self-Care. Self-care is an important component for helping managing anxiety and other mental health disorders. It is about taking time out to realise the needs of your body (both physically and mentally) and doing activities that help you achieve this. It can be as simple as eating a meal or taking a nap. If you struggle with self-care here is a simple interactive self-care guide you can follow or create your own self-care guide off of these principles
- Hang out with Friends. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, hanging out with friends can help take your mind of things and just help you relax.
- Seek Help. Going to my local GP and getting a Mental Health Plan was one of the best things I ever did. It allowed me to have 10 free sessions with a bulk-billing psychologist. Google is your best friend and can help you find a practice that is bulk-billing and local to you.
These activities may or may not help you but there is never any harm in trying or asking for help.
For further emergency and 24-hour services please contact the relevant service
NSW Mental Health Line
1800 011 511
Transcultural Mental Health Service
1800 648 911
1800 55 1800
Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467
1800 022 222
What can I do if a friend or family member has anxiety?
If a friend or family member is living with Anxiety, headspace, the National Youth Mental Foundation have some great articles that go into great detail about what you can do.
I would like to extend my gratitude to all the people in my life who lent me their words and voices to help create the above video. I know how hard it can be and I truly appreciate it.