Anxiety is a complicated thing. I mean, I have never been “diagnosed” with anxiety but I have definitely experienced its symptoms all my life. You know, the racing heart. The sweats. Feeling like you are in an absolute panic. Avoiding interacting with people for the fear they will shut you down. It can be awful.
When I was younger, I used to play in the playground on my own. Playing with the dress up box, no one around. I was always happy on my own. This is when I didn’t feel anxious but instead content. My Kindergarten Teacher noticed and suggested I went to performance school – to express myself. Backstage, my Mum would put my lipstick on and get me dressed, ready to perform. This was the start of my love for music, singing, acting, dancing and performing. This was the start of my creativity being my outlet.
Being creative, song writing and performing has always been very, very important to me. But over time, I became more of an extrovert, to please people and because I felt it made people like me more. My people pleasing ways lead me into dangerous situations of my boundaries being crossed, being abused, taunted and treated as if I was lesser than in my relationships, I allowed people to walk all over me and put me down. This stemmed from childhood trauma which caused me not to feel “wanted” or “good enough”. This stopped me from speaking up about my needs in my relationships and made me feel small.
I often felt like I was walking on egg shells. I have experienced domestic violence within my past family dynamic, and with partners and intimate relationships. Whenever I have had to speak up in the past I get the shakes, I get nervous, my heart has beat fast, and I have felt trapped and held hostage by the demon I call ‘anxiety’. Anxiety can feel debilitating. It stops you from doing the things you want to do. It stops you from speaking up. Your body shuts down and you are caged by fear. I think about it like fear is anxiety and anxiety is fear. Sometimes we are triggered with anxiety from being in situations that are similar to the trauma we have previously been through.
I’ve learnt some ways to support myself. I have had to block all the people on social media who have caused me anxiety. And in this process, I have actually been set free. I am now presently surrounded by giving people who love me for me, who raise me up, who support me and who are on my wavelength. I call these people my vibe tribe. These people help me with my anxiety because I reach out when I need support, and they reassure me, make me feel heard, remind me to be kind and compassionate with myself and make me feel calmer when I am going through stress.
I have gained tools along the way to combat my stress and anxiety. I am very creative, so singing, song writing, acting, listening to music and dancing are an outlet which calms my stress and anxiety instantly. I find going for a walk or run is a great way to release toxins, emotions and anxiety. Cleaning is a great way to clear my headspace and make me feel productive. Breathing is so important, so doing some breath work and listening to binaural beats helps combat my stress and anxiety dramatically. Writing journals is a great way to mind dump my anxious feelings on paper and be my own personal psychologist. Reaching out to friends and family, as well as seeing a psychologist or GP is a great way to verbally process my anxious emotions and what I am going through. Staying on top of my medications is also very important to keep me balanced. Being in nature, around children or animals is also fantastic to keep you grounded, present and having fun. And lastly, I find having a laugh extremely important, whether with friends or family, or through watching a funny movie. There are so many different ways I have helped support myself when feeling anxious or stressed. What things have you found helpful?
The picture of me above reminds me that all my experiences have allowed me to spread my wings and fly.
Chris is co-facilitating our course, That Anxious Feeling soon.