I read an article a couple of days ago about a high-profile Sydney GP who said millennials need to “buck up and get on with it”, referring to the nationwide anxiety epidemic amongst youth in Australia.
Ironically enough, that gave me anxiety.
At first I got defensive and I’m pretty sure I referred to said GP as an “unhelpful dickhead” in my brain. But after a while, my thoughts began to change and I started to question myself.
Maybe I’ve let anxiety play too big a part in my life that it’s now become an unhealthy part of my identity. Maybe I wear the anxiety badge too proudly. Maybe I’m using it as an excuse for not being good at something; for being fearful; for being timid.
Maybe my anxiety has somehow become my security blanket.
This is actually something I’ve thought about before and I wonder if I’ve let it go past the point of no return. That maybe it’s my own fault that I’m often in an anxious state and feel like I can’t escape. Constantly saying “I have anxiety” embeds those thoughts into my brain on a daily basis (which is also why I consciously try to say I deal with anxiety, rather than I have anxiety).
I often wonder (and this could be because of my anxiety ¯_(ツ)_/¯) that this is what my partner, what my family and what my friends think about me. That I am milking it, that I fall back on it because it’s easier than standing up to it and pushing through fear. That I am weak. That I’ve fallen into the “everybody has anxiety” category.
Let’s face it, anxiety gets thrown around a hell of a lot more than it did 50 years ago that’s for sure. And yes for a variety of reasons, one being that it wasn’t acknowledged so much back then. But I refer to a Ricky Gervais joke when this argument gets brought up: you won’t ever hear a starving African complaining of having M-E (chronic fatigue syndrome). That’s almost certainly true (and if that jokes offends you, watch Fame first and then get back to me).
I know what we complain about, what we suffer from, what we get excited about all varies depending on our surroundings and our relativity. For example, in Australia we have clean running water and food that is accessible 24 hours a day. Our fears and our dreams are vastly different to those living in the third world or a war-torn country. We grow accustomed to certain ways of living and to certain norms and your life plays out depending on your surroundings. I know.
But maybe I’ve fallen into a trap.
I am certainly not dismissing anyone else’s experiences with anxiety.
Definitely not. Anxiety is a real thing. For me, it’s a daily occurrence, something I deal with and work through every single day. Some days it’s a light flutter in my belly, other days I lie in bed wondering how the hell I am even going to get out of the house, my mind going a million miles a minute. Some days I don’t leave the apartment and I steer all possible plans of going out somewhere else so we can stay inside.
At least a few times everyday I have thoughts that my friends hate me, even though they’ve done absolutely nothing to make me feel that way. That they’re inviting me places out of pity or that they message me because they have to.
At least a few times everyday, I feel useless at my job and think everyone around me is thinking the same.
When there is a big event on, I feel paralysed inside my own body. Just last weekend I was in Sydney for a friend’s hens and I was almost silent for several hours the evening prior and the morning of, because I was battling internally with feelings of angst which can sometimes make me panic, cry and can cause my breathing to get erratic. Thankfully, I was with friends who were nothing but understanding.
But I wonder if I allow it to win too often without realising.
Am I even trying to beat it or do I just always fall back to “oh I’ve got anxiety so I won’t go there/do that/be good at that”? Maybe. It’s a very real possibility. Maybe I’ve let it takeover and am using it as an excuse without realising I’m doing it.
Let me be very clear: I don’t want to be someone who whines and plays up something so people will feel sorry for me. I talk about my anxiety because it’s real to me and I know other people experience it as well. I talk about it in the hopes that it will help me feel better and will also help others realise they’re not the only ones questioning everything they do, everything they say and constantly feel like they’re on guard or fearful for no particular or obvious reason.
I have had anxiety every time I’ve opened this post and added to it.
Probably because I am nervous about the potential reaction or response, because it leaves me vulnerable and because I’m nervous about training at F45 (this part was written sitting in the car waiting to train). I’ve been going to that place for two and a half years and still sometimes get sweaty palms and nervous AF when I walk in, whether as a trainer or as a trainee.
Two things that help me kick anxiety in the dick:
- Exercise. And exercising to the point that I am exhausted. A beach walk is nice sometimes, but so is pushing yourself to your absolute limit. Try it. Exhaust yourself, push yourself, go to a place you didn’t think you could go yesterday. When you exert yourself that much, when those endorphins are running through you, when you get to a state of pure exhaustion, it almost becomes elation. There is nowhere near as much noise in your head and self-doubt trickles away. It really works.
- Interrupting my anxiety with gratitude. Be grateful, even if you have to force it. When I am so anxious and I can’t stop my brain, I write down three things I am grateful for. Or I just say them out loud over and over again. Often my partner Josh will remind me to do that when he can tell I am on edge. It can be feeling the sun on my skin, having a good job, that dogs exist – whatever. Focusing on positives can drown out the negative voices a lot of the time.
Whether I am letting it define me too much or not, it’s still a part of my life.
It has been for as long as I can remember and considering I remember back to being about five years old at a birthday party and being anxious, that’s about 25 years of anxiety to reverse. I don’t know why I am this way either. I had a wonderful childhood, was always supported and encouraged, and was surrounded by love. So it beats me. Shit happens I guess.
Now I’ve just got to make sure I’m not letting anxiety win because I want to let it win … what a weird word vomit this blog has been.
Hannah. I read this in the Daily Telegraph this week. Its about Robbins of course and his tour here. These are abridged excerpts…
‘But it also asks you the hard, intimate questions. It asks you to be honest with yourself and identify what’s really holding you back. And it’s not just about being honest, it’s about being brutally honest, as Robbins booms from the stage. For most people, the answer is simple — fear. In our professional lives, we often judge our work as not being good enough or finished. For achievers, fear manifests as perfectionism, stress or imposter syndrome. We fear people won’t like our work or we’re scared it won’t work out. In our relationships, fear takes the form of rejection and emotional pain.
Excuses are fear’s greatest ally. You’re too tired, too stressed, too poor … the list could go on forever. Humans are good at identifying a roadblock and hiding behind it. As Robbins teaches, making excuses is often a lot easier than opening yourself up to vulnerability or failure. The trick is to identify these excuses and counterattack these with strategies to help quieten that little voice telling you “no”. ‘
Hannah, the people in your office, your friends, your family, everyone you see question themselves continually. They may not admit it but they fear that they will not be liked. That people will see them as other than the ‘perfection’ we all pretend to be. We all do it. Including me.