One in four people in Australia will experience Anxiety in their life. It is the most common mental health issue in Australia and its occurrence is growing amongst us every year. While its not something you can see, the battle with this invisible illness is all too real for so many of us, including myself.
I’ve struggled with anxiety, chronic anxiety at times, for years. For years I went undiagnosed; thinking these feelings of stress, worry, panic and depression were normal and just something I had to live with.
But things got worse, I wasn’t able to suppress the feelings anymore and they began impacting my daily life; daily panic attacks, heart palpitations, chest pains, digestive issues, shortness of breath, inability to focus, obsessive thinking, constantly living in fear, and always feeling on edge. On numerous occasions I had to leave work during the day because of panic attacks and terrible chest pains. Thats when I realised, hey, this isn’t normal.
I visited my GP who assessed my physical health and symptoms and diagnosed me with anxiety. I so wasn’t ready for that. But it made so much sense and finally helped me to properly explain how I had been feeling these past few years. And while it wasn’t easy to hear, I knew I needed to do something about this.
I took a few weeks to digest the recent events and assess my headspace. After all, anxiety is an invisible illness; being so into my health and fitness at the time, it took me a while to digest that I could be so healthy ‘physically’ but still be suffering from this ‘invisible’ illness.
I was always someone who had the “I’m fine” mentality. I was independent, never asked for help, always solved my issues on my own, or just ignored them, and that’s how I liked it. I didn’t like burdening others with my issues nor did I like sharing my private life with anyone, not even family or friends. In hind sight, probably not great for someone experiencing the stress and inner torment that I was.
But after I took the time to realise, yeah I’m really not as ‘fine’ as I tried to convince myself and others that I am, I did one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do. I got help; professional help. I was lucky enough to have the most amazing psychologist recommended to me and I began seeing her weekly for a few months, then monthly visits. I’m not kidding when I say this was the hardest thing I had to do. Admitting I wasn’t okay was hard enough, but this made it real.
I’ll admit, I never thought I would be someone who needed to see a psychologist – I didn’t want to be seen as ‘weak’ for needing help when nothing was ‘physically’ wrong and I never saw myself as someone who could sit and talk about their problems to a complete stranger for an hour. But going to see this psychologist is honestly the best thing I have ever done and I am so damn proud of myself for it.
Recognising and admitting you need help does not make you weak; it actually makes you so much stronger. I wouldn’t be in the job I love today, nor would I be able to manage being in a relationship ever if I hadn’t gotten help for my anxiety. Standing up and challenging this invisible monster that is anxiety makes you stronger and is nothing to be ashamed of. It is okay to not be okay. And it is okay to admit that. Your family will still love you and your friends will still respect you and you yourself will come out a better person for it.
This whole journey has taught me that it isn’t normal to have anxiety control your life. Before seeking help, anxiety was completing controlling me – isolating me from social situations, inhibiting me from working and diminishing my quality of life overall. If this is how you are feeling too, there is another way. You don’t have to live like this. I promise you.
Don’t let anxiety control you. You deserve a better life than that. Take the leap and get professional help. There are so many amazing psychologists and councillors around. I’d be lost without mine. She honestly saved my life. I still see her regularly; it helps me cope.
I look back to the broken girl that was me a year ago and I am so incredibly proud and thankful to her for seeking help for anxiety. It has changed my life for the better.
While I don’t think I’ll ever be cured of this invisible illness, I have been given the tools to manage it day-to-day and not let it impact me as much as it once did. I am stronger mentally and feel so much more in control of my life now. I still have those days where life just feels too much to handle, but I now know that feeling will pass. Its a constant battle, but I now feel my odds of winning grow stronger each day.
Be sure to join me over on Instagram (@eb.fiitness) for daily motivation, recipes and fitness tips! xxx