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?
Hi! My name is Ivy, I’m a 22 year old college student from Spain. My current dream is going to the UK to study for a Master’s Degree. But I’m a dreamer, whereas I reach my dream or not, I would probably have another one to daydream about in no time.
I have a profound love for all the animals in the world. The thing of my everyday life that I enjoy the most is working on my blog, Savvy Ivy. I prefer staying home and listening to my music and watch a good movie with my family rather than going to night clubs. I love to travel, but get cranky if I’m hungry or sleepy, so it’s best that I do so after a good night sleep and always carrying a sandwich with me.
What does the anxiety you experience look like (obsessive thoughts, extreme worry, intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder, etc)?
I think every person’s anxiety has different layers, you know? For me, one layer is composed by insisting thoughts like I did something wrong, maybe in a conversation, maybe cooking, maybe in a test, I can’t shake them. And the other layer is social anxiety, that constant fear of making the ridicule when I’m talking with someone I don’t know (maybe it’s not the first time I spoke to that person, but I don’t know them very well, so it still gives me anxiety).
Do you see a therapist/psychologist?
I recently came to terms that the problem is not going away on its own, so I’ve started looking for a therapist. But I’m still to find someone who I feel comfortable talking with.
Do you take medication for the anxiety?
I take “Calmasilán” an anxiolytic herbal medicine. And when I’m in midterms or if I have to give an exam I also take something to help me sleep called “Dormidina”, that has doxylamine, because my anxiety prevents me from sleeping (If I’m not on midterms or such I sleep as if I were a bear hibernating).
How long have you been dealing with anxiety?
My anxiety started when I was an adolescent, around 15 years old. Before that, I remember that I liked to participate in class, and I absolutely loved to volunteer to the board. But something clicked, or unclicked when I hit puberty. I think my anxiety is related to the fact that I was bullied at school, but I don’t know why it took until 15 to develop, and not at 10 when the bullying started.
What are some triggers for the anxiety you experience?
The things that give me the most anxiety are:
- Giving a presentation. This one is the situation that gives me the most anxiety, by far.
- Participating in class.
- Making a phone call (weird, right?)
- Meeting someone new.
- Talking to an employee that’s on a counter (again, weird)
Have you ever dealt with the dreaded anxiety spiral?
Yeah, and it’s horrible because I feel like my mind is playing tricks with me and that it’s trying to hurt me on purpose. It’s like my mind comes alive and intentionally tells me all the things that it knows will cause me an anxiety attack. There were a couple of times where I went down an anxiety spiral, and the moment that I woke up the next morning it started all over again. That’s how powerful and terrible it can get.
Do you experience panic attacks?
Not on a regular basis (thank God) But whenever I have to give a presentation in college (that luckily is not often) I get a panic attack. I feel like I’m choking, I can’t breathe at all, I start crying, I get nauseous and sometimes I’ve literally thrown up.
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?
For my anxiety spirals most times I just need to get out of wherever I am and go for a long walk to clear my head, which usually does the trick. Sometimes there is nothing that can stop your thoughts running wild so I just end up crying ‘till I’m exhausted and fall asleep. For panic attacks concentrating on my breathing and trying to block everything else helps a lot.
What are some preventative measures that you take to help prevent the anxiety you experience?
I think that self-care is at the base of your well-being, so it’s fundamental that you take the time to concentrate on yourself. So regular exercise even if it is walking, eating well, sleeping all the hours that you need (I need 9-10 hours daily).
Besides my basic self-care, I need to listen to my music often (heavy metal). If I go on great periods of time (more than a couple of days) without listening to my music I start getting anxious and cranky, even if I don’t realize it, and then when I hear my music again, I experience a feeling of catharsis.
What are some of your favorite anxiety resources (websites, books, etc) that other people could reference if they’re struggling as well?
As I mentioned above, listening to heavy metal is of great help for me, the heavier the song, the more catharsis I do. Obviously, if you’re not into heavy metal, it will probably do you more harm than good, but maybe you can find the same feeling listening to another type of music you like.
I really enjoy Ted Talks, too, they’re really inspiring and they’ve had a huge positive impact on me. I can’t think of any book that I’d have read about anxiety, but writing is a good way for me to make catharsis too.
Why do you think the mental health stigma exists? Why are people afraid to talk about their mental illness?
I actually talked a little about this on a blog post. I think that the reason why it’s still a stigma is because of ignorance.
And it’s like a loop, because people don’t talk about mental illness because of the stigma, that it’s caused by ignorance. But as long as we don’t talk about it the ignorance will remain there, and so will the stigma.
Thanks to Ivy for sharing her story!
Want to read more Anxiety Stories? Check out the other interviews here.
Want to share your own anxiety story? Check out the guidelines here!