FYI: You’re allowed to have anxiety and enjoy your life

by smithstandard
keyboard and pen

Some days I worry that I talk and write about my anxiety too much.

Ha. Imagine that. Me getting worried about something. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

My dad from time-to-time has said to me, my mum and anyone else who’s been overreacting that we’re going to worry ourselves into early graves if we keep this BS up. And I know he’s right. He’s been known to shake his head at our crazy ramblings and say things like “is that what you’re going to be thinking about at the end?” It always makes me laugh and re-assess what I’m getting worked up over. My dad is forever the optimist. He is also pretty certain he’s going to outlive us because we’re always so stressed. Probs accurate.

Thoughts I legitimately have multiple times per week:

  1. That my friends don’t like me/are mad at me/think I’m a loser.
  2. People are bored when I’m talking to them and just pretending to be interested.
  3. That I suck at both of my jobs.
  4. That when I cross the road at a set of lights, people in their cars are judging me/talking about me.
  5. I sometimes get sucked into a vortex of panic and legitimately stress I am going to develop a severe mental illness with just how much over-thinking I do. Josh is constantly assuring me that everybody is thinking all the time, but I somehow think I am definitely thinking more than the average person, and it can’t be good for the brain.

While the list above may indicate otherwise, I really have been trying to control the spiralling anxiety lately. Whilst I still get anxious a lot of the time, my attitude about life is a much more positive one than it was a few years ago. I mean I have consciously been trying to reign it in and as a result, I am much more chilled about a lot of situations that used to stress me out.

I have no doubt that starting work at F45 Carrara has played a huge part in that shift – forcing me to speak in front of people, correcting people’s form and technique and talking to strangers to name a few things. I also think dating a “life natural” has had a huge impact. But First We Make the Beast Beautiful (a book gifted to me by my older sister and written by Sarah Wilson – the I Quit Sugar woman) delves into the idea that anxious people are drawn to “life naturals.” 20 per cent of people are born biologically immune to anxiety. These people sleep soundly at night, they see things as they are and don’t try to overanalyse every aspect of everything, and they go straight to the positive. Whilst my partner may or may not be biologically immune to anxiety, he’s pretty bloody close.

Josh stays calm in the face of potentially stressful or difficult situations and is brave in ways I only wish I was (he voluntarily attends Toastmasters FFS). He has ZERO problems when it comes to sleep and he genuinely tries to see the good in every situation. Don’t get me wrong – he gets pissed off when life calls for it – but he never lets anything bother him for too long. He’s smiling the minute he wakes up and tells me to “kick their butts” when I’m off to work at 4.30am. It’s a big contrast when you realise I don’t generally like to speak to a single soul in the first 30-60 minutes of awaking from slumber.

Sometimes I feel bad for him that he’s dating someone who is so high maintenance, in terms of needing reassurance and calming down on the reg. I am also grumpy 91% of the time, dislike social events unless they involve copious amounts of beer, I bitch and moan about pretty much everything and I only look presentable approximately 3.5/7 days of the week.

And now my spray tan place is closing so it’s going to become 7/7 days (soz mate).

How I deal with my anxiety:

  1. First step is to get anxious about my anxiety and make it worse. Naturally.
  2. Then – I try to do a series of breathing exercises or de-catastrophising exercises I’ve been using since I saw my psychologist several years ago.
  3. Exercise – as much as I complain about it, it really is a non-negotiable for me. Whilst training used to be about trying to get a six pack and look good in a tight dress, now it’s more about my mental state and staying healthy so I am still able to do things as I get older.
  4. Eating well – if you’ve got a fire in the gut, you’ve got a fire in the brain. That’s something else Sarah Wilson taught me. When the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria is out of whack it can trigger a cascade of inflammatory molecular reactions that feed back to the central nervous system, causing inflammation in the brain. As much as I enjoy my beer and pizza, I try my best to eat well most of the time. That means lots of vegetables (which I love), sugar-free/low sugar snacks where possible (this one I don’t love so much), protein, good fats and a hell of a lot of water. I love water. I will choose to have water at a restaurant over any other drink, including alcohol. I easily smash three litres a day and that’s why I need to pee all the God damn time. #firstworldproblem

Lately, I’ve been taking massive steps with how I see the world.

While I am often sarcastic and whingey, I hope when you read these or hear me in person, you’re taking my words with a grain of salt. Make no mistake: I’ve got a fucking great life. I’ve got a body that allows me to do things: to walk, dance (badly), skip and exercise; I live in a beautiful apartment 400m from the beach; I have two sources of income and a wonderful friend circle; I am with someone who loves my guts despite my chaotic brain; I have a family that is the actual best ever (seriously though). My family always make me feel at ease. When I visit my folks at their place I get fed (yaaass), we have good conversation, I laugh and I spend the drive home pumping tunes and singing so loudly because I’m in such a good mood. When my sister and nephews visit or vice versa, life is elated that much more. I do sometimes stress (of course) about what life would be like when that no longer exists, but I try to spin it around and just soak up the moments I do have. Life is good and I’ve found that consistently recognising this good is making an enormous difference to my mental state.

Be grateful for what you’ve got.

I have recently learned about Emma Carey, known as the Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Her story resonated with me, and I have become somewhat transfixed on how she lives her life and her attitude towards things after experiencing such a traumatic event. Every time I see a new post or photo or message from her, she reminds me to be grateful for what I’ve got. To appreciate the big things and the little things each and every day. And while I’m not into all the fake, positivity shit you see so much of these days, her genuine attitude and approach to life has made me more open to choosing more of an optimistic tone from time to time, instead of my usual cynical one (but let’s face facts, dry and cynical is always going to be my favourite).

You’re allowed to have anxiety and also enjoy your life.

Whilst my anxiety is ever-present and I talk about it like it cripples me (which is does sometimes), I still enjoy my life. I really do. Sometimes, the everyday bullshit gets in the way or my anxiety gets hekkas and I forget how to stay in control. But at the end of the day I am happy. It’s probably taken my whole life to feel this good, but I’m here now and I bloody love it.

If you deal with anxiety, I hope you’re okay. I hope you know that you can also love your life, even if you’re freaking out on the reg. Like I mentioned above, it’s taken me years to feel so accepting of myself and to be okay with being a bit haphazard on the inside, but I got here. And so can you.

If you’re going through something life-changing, traumatic, sad or even if it’s just getting through every day stuff, you are not alone. And while I may not be able to offer professional help, I will always write about my anxiety – the good, the bad and the ugly – because even if it helps just one person feel less alone, then it’s all completely worth it.

Please don’t be afraid to see your GP or other health professional if you’re struggling, beyondblue have some amazing resources, as well as Lifeline and SANE Australia. The timing of this is probably perfect to mention that the organisation I work for partnered with beyondblue and Bolton Clarke on a new program called NewAccess. It was launched on the Gold Coast just last week and helps people tackle life pressures, such as anxiety and mild depression, financial worries, life at home, family problems and work stress. It’s free, confidential and help can be delivered over the phone, in the comfort of your own home. Please don’t be afraid to utilise these sorts of services if you need them.

I may not have mentioned it before, but I welcome feedback on all of my blogs, particularly those on anxiety. I may not have a medical degree, but I could talk about this stuff all day. Please leave a comment here, or on my Facebook or my Instagram. Please share your experiences, let me know whether or not this helped or send suggestions of what you’d like to read from me. I am working on the idea of doing weekly blogs just to my newsletter subscribers, so if you’re interested, please sign up to my blogs here

Seriously – please let me know. I like to write, not just because I like the sound of my inner voice, but because I like to have a purpose.

Thanks for reading as always.

Han x

1 comment

Nutes June 15, 2018 - 6:36 pm

Well said Hannah. I too struggle daily with anxiety and it’s tough but with a positive attitude and acceptance plus support of awesome family and friends we can handle it. Some are not so fortunate with no support network. Thanks for bringing this to the table. Love 💖 you x

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