Living with Anxiety

Did you know that in any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety?

Crazy statistics, hey? But I think we’re smart enough to know they’re true. In fact, we know they are because many of us sit amongst them. I know I do.

I’ve experienced anxiety for most of my life and whilst I’ve had my moments of triumph to overcome it there have also been days where I’ve been on the verge of a meltdown.

You see, anxiety is experienced differently for everyone (which is all kinds of fucked up when you want someone to relate too) but one thing remains constant for all it’s sufferers and that is the more you try to control anxiety the more it controls you.

It’s a really shit situation when you think about it and becomes a repetitive, negative cycle. For me it looks something like this:

ANXIOUS THOUGHT + ME TRYING TO STOP THE ANXIOUS THOUGHT = MORE ANXIOUS THOUGHTS

You see the pattern here? It’s all kinds of fucked up but I hope it illustrates just how hard it can be at times for those experiencing anxiety.

If you’ve never had the pleasure (and I say that sarcastically) of dealing with anxiety, I envy you, however I also want to mention a few things that you really need to stop saying to people who DO experience it. Actually, just eliminate the following sentences from your vocabulary immediately:

  • “Stop stressing”
  • “You’re overthinking”
  • “It’s all in your head”
  • “Calm down”

There’s a few more I could throw in but I think you get the point. These comments/sentences are patronising, be-lilting, unthoughtful and just unnecessary. Here’s what you SHOULD be saying instead:

  • “Is there anything I can do to help you?”
  • “Would you like to be left alone to think?”
  • “Would you like to talk about it?”
  • “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way”

See the difference? When someone around you is experiencing anxiety they don’t need your added shitty comments making them feel worse so if you’re only going to add fuel to the fire, shut your mouth. Okay?

Whilst anxiety is experienced different for everyone, I’m making a decision to be transparent about mine. This is because I want the stigma and barriers of anxiety to be broken down. I want this to be an open conversation with authentic dialogue that connects us as opposed to distancing us. I can’t help people if I don’t show my own soul and if this piece makes a difference to even one person, the honesty would have been worth it.

Anxiety for me in ONE sentence:

An overwhelming need to always be liked.

SIDE NOTE: It was really fucking confronting writing that, not even kidding. Part of me is yelling to stop writing this piece now.

This means I worry about social gatherings, events, friendships, relationships, conversations, text messages etc etc more than the average person would. It can be really debilitating. Who am I kidding? It IS debilitating. It’s fucking awful on most (if not all) occasions, but it’s the truth.

I’m better at managing myself in moments of anxiety now than I used to be and thankfully I’m always able to pull myself from it’s hold, even on my bad days.

However one important part of anxiety for me is this:

It doesn’t get to rule my life, I do.

I choose to think of anxiety as something I experience from time to time and yes, it is awful, but it is temporary moments of emotion that (over half a life of practice) I can control and do learn from.

Do I think I’ll ever live a life without experiencing anxiety? Probably not.

I’ve learned and accepted that I think too deep, care too much, worry too much and feel things on a level most people don’t and I’m okay with that. I’ve actually learned to embrace that part of myself and surprisingly, it’s made me better.

Here’s to embracing ALL parts of ourselves that make us change, learn and grow. Even the ones we’re made to think are bad