Welcome to ‘Anxiety Stories!’ I (Laura of The Mindful Mom Blographer), started Anxiety Stories after I read Brene’ Brown’s book ‘Daring Greatly’. In the book, Brown talks extensively about shame, which is something I think many people who suffer from anxiety feel – as well as feeling alone.
We all know there is a mental health stigma in today’s society. So how can we remove that stigma? By removing people’s shame, and let them know they’re not alone.
Anxiety is a lot more common than people realize – I know this from all the comments and DMs I get whenever I get vulnerable about my anxiety experiences. Yet still, the stigma!
My hope with Anxiety Stories is that we can normalize anxiety by showing people’s stories from all walks of life. I ask that each person who conducts an interview be willing to be a little bit vulnerable, and each person who reads these interviews holds the interviewee in a loving space, knowing they’ve put themselves out there for a good cause.
*If you are dealing with anxiety or another type of mental illness, please talk with a
There are some great resources on how to get help below:
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Online Resources and Finding Help
- Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741741 (US number) to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
- Finally, this is a great page from ‘Everyday Help’ with a ton of resources for mental health assistance such as financial help for therapy and medications, support groups, etc.
Last but not least, please note that I nor my interviewees aren’t medical professionals, and the resources and tips are not to replace professional medical advice. We are simply sharing our stories and what we know from working through our anxiety with professionals in our own life. If you are feeling any type of mental health symptoms, please seek medical assistance.
I hope you enjoy the interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? What types of things do you enjoy doing?
My name is Esther, I’m 22 years old and from Hertfordshire in the UK (but I’m currently travelling Australia). I’m a psychology graduate and a certified yoga teacher. I’m hoping to go back to uni later this year to study counselling.
I enjoy travelling, photography, seeing live music, practicing yoga and working on my holistic mental health blog called Hopeful Lotus. I feel like all of these things give me passion and purpose.
What does the anxiety you experience look like (obsessive thoughts, extreme worry, intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder, etc)?
My anxiety takes the form of social anxiety disorder most often, though I also suffer from complex PTSD. For me, the way it manifests most is in physical symptoms. I can be thinking all the positive thoughts in the world but my body will make it clear when I feel threatened by something. This can be really debilitating at times.
Do you see a therapist/psychologist?
Currently, no. I saw many therapists in my childhood and I don’t think I was ready for it at that time. I saw a therapist for EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) to process childhood trauma a couple of years ago and it changed my life. I’m planning on going back to therapy soon now that I feel better equipped to talk about my problems openly and really make some changes. I think you have to be in the right headspace for therapy, and I just wasn’t back then.
Do you take medication for the anxiety?
Again, not currently. I took medication for 7 years. I was first on fluoxetine from age 15 but that didn’t seem to help much with my anxiety. I was prescribed sertraline and took that for 2 years and it did wonders for my physical symptoms of anxiety and really calmed things down.
The reason I came off medication is because I’m a big believer in holistic mental health treatments. I believe that there is always a natural option out there to heal any problems we may have. With that being said, I know that medication can be a necessary intervention in times of high risk or distress and so I don’t shame anyone for taking it. I myself am open to going back on it if my mental health starts deteriorating.
How long have you been dealing with anxiety?
In all honesty I’d say for the majority of my life. It’s hard to tell when it began but there are definitely situations I can remember from my early childhood that I’d consider anxious behaviour. When it really started becoming problematic I was about 10 years old.
What are some triggers for the anxiety you experience?
My biggest problems are things like public speaking or anything where I have to be the centre of attention or fear I’ll be judged. Some examples might include:
- Having to introduce myself to a group
- Turning up to a social situation alone
- Giving a presentation
- Meeting somebody new
- Driving with somebody else in my car
- Teaching yoga!! (I need to conquer this one)
New situations are also really anxiety provoking for me. I hate surprises!
Have you ever dealt with the dreaded anxiety spiral?
Many times. I think most people that suffer with an anxiety disorder have. It’s so easy to get caught up in a pattern of avoidance and reinforce your anxious feelings to the point where it is unbearable. I feel like things can very quickly go downhill with anxiety; it can be incredibly tricky to get a grasp on sometimes.
Do you experience panic attacks?
Yes – that’s my biggest problem. For me it’s less about worried thoughts and more about the panicky feelings. I think this is also linked to my complex PTSD and I have a very heightened flight or fight response.
When I get anxious it can very quickly turn into an anxiety attack or panic attack. They have definitely subsided a lot though. There’s a lot of situations that used to cause me intense panic, such as making a phone call, that I can now do with no issues!
What are some things you do while you’re having a panic attack or are in an anxiety spiral to help pull yourself out of it?
A change of scenery can be great. If I can I’ll go to a new location and that can switch it up a bit and release some of the anxiety. Breathing techniques and mindfulness help. Also sometimes just trying to accept the anxiety releases some of the power it has over you. But there have been many occasions where the only way to stop the panic is to “flight” and remove myself from the situation. I’m working on that.
What are some preventative measures that you take to help prevent the anxiety you experience?
Sleep is SO important for me. If I don’t get enough sleep it can really heighten my anxiety. Just general self-care really:
- Having regular downtime
- Practicing yoga
- Eating well
- Taking supplements/remedies
These are all things that really help me, but it’s hard to keep up a consistent routine!
What are some of your favorite anxiety resources (websites, books, etc) that other people could reference if they’re struggling as well?
Most of the books I read are more focused on spirituality rather than anxiety itself, but I find them to have great value. For instance The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is all about being in the present moment. It’s an amazing book and I think it definitely has some value in anxiety recovery.
I love watching Ted Talks too. I love hearing other people’s stories and successes and I think they can really spur me on to try and make positive changes in my own life.
This may sound cheesy but I think the best resource you can have is a journal and a pen. You can read all the books in the world but I’ve found that growth comes from self-reflection. Since I started journaling I have gained so much insight into my mental health and have made many improvements since.
Also Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is a great way to access free yoga classes, which can do wonders for anxiety – trust me!
Why do you think the mental health stigma exists? Why are people afraid to talk about their mental illness?
I think all stigma exists from a lack of understanding. The only way to truly understand something is through lived experience. So if we haven’t experienced something we can be quick to judge through a lack of understanding.
We can better understand unfamiliar experiences by listening to other people’s stories and normalising the topic. If we all keep quiet it makes it so taboo when it shouldn’t be.
With that being said, I know it’s not easy to talk about! I think people are afraid of being judged or laughed at or not taken seriously – this is the case for me, at least.
A huge thanks to Esther for sharing her story!
Want to read more Anxiety Stories? Check out the other interviews here.
Want to read more Anxiety Stories? Check out the other interviews here.
Esther Cundall is a psychology graduate, certified yoga teacher and holistic mental health blogger. Through sharing her own lived experience of mental illness, namely C-PTSD, BPD and social anxiety, she shows her readers that recovery is possible. She demonstrates this with a range of both Western and Eastern tools such as psychology, yoga, meditation and self-care practices.
I love doing these anxiety stories. I love being able to provide a platform for others to share their stories. I love knowing that with each story, the mental health stigma breaks down that much more. I love knowing that there are others out there (maybe you) who identify with these stories. Who see themselves in these stories. Who for a while, like me, thought that you had to be the only person experiencing the symptoms of anxiety you were dealing with.
If you feel moved by these stories, please consider supporting me on my Patreon page. Doing so allows me to continue doing this type of work and even more – which only helps further the reduction of the mental health stigma. Thank you!