Anxiety Stories: Kaitlin K.
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 Kaitlin and I’m a graphic designer and marketing professional in Alberta, Canada. I’m an all-around creative type of person so everything I do usually involves creating something. I’ve played the piano since I can remember and used to draw and paint on a regular basis. I spend most of my free time writing (it’s at the top of my hobby list), playing the piano, or designing for personal projects.
What does the anxiety you experience look like (obsessive thoughts, extreme worry, intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder
My anxiety is nearly always intrusive thoughts.
My worries revolve around my own damaging thoughts and issues with self-worth. I worry most when I begin to feel content with things – questioning myself with ‘why do I deserve to feel happy?’, ‘how could I allow someone to be close when I don’t deserve it?’, and ‘what kind of person does it make me that I’m feeling joy when more deserving people aren’t?’.
From there, my anxiety spreads to general social situations – being in large groups of people, socializing with strangers outside of a work environment, etc.
Do you see a therapist/psychologist?
I used to see a counselor when I was in high school and a therapist in my early 20s. I finally reached out again when I knew I needed help a few years ago and have been seeing a therapist on occasion since then.
Do you take medication for
I previously took Ativan (
How long have you been dealing with anxiety?
Since I was about 16/17 (in
What are some triggers for the anxiety you experience?
One of my biggest triggers that I’ve identified is joy and the feeling that all is well. It instantly makes me anxious. I worry about if it’s real, I worry about why I feel it, I worry that I don’t deserve it, and I worry about how long it will last.
Another trigger of mine is when I see someone struggling. I get anxious that I should be helping them but might not have the strength too and I worry that if they continue to struggle that it’s my fault if I can’t help them.
Have you ever dealt with the dreaded anxiety spiral?
Sometimes it’s small loop lasting a few hours or a few days if I take action to fight it
Do you experience panic attacks?
Yes, but not to the severity I used to when I was in high school and my early twenties. Now that I’m more aware of my triggers, I’m usually able to calm myself down before an attack occurs.
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?
As someone who feels anxious all the time, I had to figure out things that can keep me calm. My go-to when I’m out and about is my pulse, which I used to think was incredibly odd. If you’ve ever felt an anxiety attack creeping up and a panic attack around the corner, your pulse is usually going wild.
But when I feel anxiety coming on, I feel my pulse on my neck. Sometimes for an extended period of time (and it goes unnoticed by most people because it just looks like I’m leaning on my elbow if I’m sitting down at a desk or table or playing with my hair when I’m standing) and sometimes just to feel a few beats. It gives me something dependable to concentrate on; sometimes I pick a random number and count
What are some preventative measures that you take to help prevent the anxiety you experience?
About a year ago, after some therapy and a hell of a lot of self-reflection, I admitted the route of my issue to myself and dealing with anxiety has become ten times easier (though still not easy). I find thoughts I used to have
With my biggest worry being caused by my own manipulative thoughts, I’ve started to look at my anxiety as a partial lie. When I find myself worrying about what kind of terrible person I am, I can tell myself that I’m the only person who thinks that. The ‘nobody hates me more than I hate myself’ intrusive thought takes a lot of energy and I’ve started directing all that energy towards my work
I find daily routines really help on a long-term basis. I have a night routine that I stick to almost every single day that involves spending time on my creative writing. Sometimes I can’t write more than a few sentences and sometimes I can hash out 3000 words in one sitting. It doesn’t matter what I’m feeling, how long my day was, or how early my morning will be – I always make time to sit down and write something.
I’ve also become very mindful of what my body needs. I’m by no means a health nut or someone who can talk workout plans and fitness goals but in the last few years, I’ve forced myself to get into the habit of using some of my energy to keep my body healthy. I workout regularly, meal prep, and if I’m in any sort of anxiety slump, I at least have that to focus on besides my work.
On top of all that, I’ve begun to embrace minimalism in different aspects of my life. I try to focus on what’s valuable and what I need. I find that by trimming off the fat, so-to-speak, it’s easier to find comfort with myself and in my life.
What are some of your favorite anxiety resources (websites, books, etc) that other people could reference if they’re struggling as well?
I read a lot of inspiring stories on To Write Love on Her Arms and it’s an amazing cause. The stories are always so down to earth and never make you feel like you’re the only one who thinks they’re losing their mind.
This might seem a little odd but I go to The Livestrong Website quite often. I think it’s so important to take care of yourself, even in very little ways, when you’re working so hard mentally. Not only is it healthy, but it provides a really nice distraction sometimes. I also follow a few fitness and nutritional accounts on Instagram to get inspired to keep my body healthy.
Also, don’t overlook local resources! There’s a counseling office in my city called Momentum Walk-In that offers a sliding scale (pay what you can afford) on their services. This is incredibly helpful and wonderful. I know a lot of people haven’t been able to find the help and resources they need because of finances and to be able to Walk-In for counseling without the stress of money is amazing.
Why do you think the mental health stigma exists? Why are people afraid to talk about their mental illness?
I think a lot of it comes from not knowing enough about mental illnesses. I’ve seen a lot of change in the last few years as far as people even bringing it up and I notice that while it might be acknowledged, it’s not discussed very much (in a regular social situation). I think it comes from both sides – the people struggling with mental health and the people who aren’t.
I’ve seen a lot of people get knocked down disrespectfully because they’ve used a dated term or an offensive descriptor unintentionally towards someone suffering from a mental illness. There are so many different ways to go about educating people and it’s hard for people who are less informed in that subject to bring things up, especially if they’ve been reprimanded insensitively by someone else.
And on the other side, I know from personal experience that talking about your mental health isn’t always met with support. People don’t know what to say, don’t know how to react, or sometimes, they simply don’t believe you.
Want to read more Anxiety Stories? Check out the other interviews here.
Want to share your own anxiety story? Check out the guidelines here!
A huge thank you to Kaitlin for sharing her story!
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