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 Stacey Shannon and I’m a freelance journalist and blogger in the Midwest. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 19 years, and we have two kiddos who are 6 and 9. I write about family life from a Christian perspective on my blog, Families with Grace. I love encouraging families to create homes full of grace, love and faith. I also am honest and open about how many times my family isn’t the perfect picture of grace and peace. I’m not about perfection at all, because if we were perfect, we wouldn’t need grace!
I love hanging out with my family in my downtime. We enjoy watching movies and playing games. I’m also an avid reader when I have quiet time for myself.
What does the anxiety you experience look like (obsessive thoughts, extreme worry, intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder, etc.)?
I definitely struggle with obsessive thoughts and general anxiety. In fact, as I’m typing this, I just finished a call about a shirt order gone awry for an activity my daughter is participating in. And I’m working to keep that out of my head as I replay the conversation over and over.
Do you see a therapist/psychologist?
Do you take medication for the anxiety?
How long have you been dealing with anxiety?
As I’ve learned more about anxiety and the different ways it manifests, I’d say it’s been something I’ve dealt with most of my life to some degree. It has waxed and waned through the years. My absolute worst time was about 11 years ago. I had to work hard to get through that time, which was definitely a struggle.
What are some triggers for the anxiety you experience?
Social situations in general are a trigger because I’m pretty shy and an introvert. Another trigger is health issues. I have a couple of chronic health issues and I am anxious any time one flares that the flare won’t stop.
Have you ever dealt with the dreaded anxiety spiral?
Yes. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was meeting a couple of friends for dinner. They are some of my closest friends, but we hadn’t all been together for months. As I was driving to the restaurant, I started down a path of being anxious about what we’d talk about and so on. I made myself take deep breaths and prayed about it in order to settle myself back down and stop the spiral.
Another time I literally locked myself in the bathroom at a public place to text my husband because I was paralyzed by my anxiety at a social gathering and didn’t know what to do. He talked me through it, and I left early.
Do you experience panic attacks?
Not usually, but there have been a couple of times in my life that I have come close to them.
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?
My husband is great at helping me. He is a calm, cool presence always. I also have learned to take some deep breaths. My faith is a big help as well. I have prayed many times and felt God’s peace. I have a favorite Bible verse that I repeat over and over sometimes: “Do not fear for I am with you…” (Isaiah 41:10). I’ve said that verse to myself since I was a young child!
I’ve also learned to change my thinking when I can. I first learned this a few years ago after we had an issue with selling our house. I was dwelling on what happened for months afterward. I decided to stop myself when the thoughts started and instead thank God for keeping me where I needed to be. It broke the cycle and now I use that technique often and pray for help with getting obsessive thoughts out of my head.
What are some preventative measures that you take to help prevent the anxiety you experience?
Planning ahead when possible helps. I can pray about what is going to happen. I can talk to myself about it. I can have a plan of action. Years ago, my husband helped me learn to go through the what-ifs for the worst-case scenarios of situations I’m stressing about. Doing so helps me realize that usually none of them are so bad. That doesn’t always stop my anxiety, but it can ease it and help me not spiral.
In general, I am also careful about what I’m putting into myself as far as what I’m listening to, watching and reading. I love contemporary Christian music because it soothes my soul and helps my focus stay where it should be. I find things to watch that don’t make me feel anxious. I tend to avoid dramatic TV shows and go for funny ones or competition shows. Oddly enough, I enjoy the Real Housewives series, even though it’s full of drama. But, it’s drama I just find interesting and not relatable like drama in fiction TV shows about sick kids or murderers. The same goes with the books I read as well as what I read online. I moderate how I get news. Sometimes I can handle news and other times I can’t because it increases my anxiety too much. I am careful on social media during especially vulnerable times and have even stayed completely away from it for days before.
Related: The news seems to be a common trigger across the people I have interviewed (myself included). To learn how to take a break from the news yet still stay informed, check out my post here.
What are some of your favorite anxiety resources (websites, books, etc.) that other people could reference if they’re struggling as well?
I don’t want to sound cliché, but the Bible is a great reference for me and encouragement. So many times verses have stood out to me in different ways just when I needed them most.
Why do you think the mental health stigma exists? Why are people afraid to talk about their mental illness?
I think we are all worried about being viewed as weak or less than. I have spent most of my life dealing with chronic health issues while looking normal to the outside world. It’s a total mix for me of sick and healthy. I’m “sick” enough that it impacts my daily life but not enough that people around me know about it. I don’t want to talk about my physical or mental health issues to people around me most times. I don’t want to be judged as weak or whiny. I don’t know if that’s what stops everyone from talking about their mental illness or just me.
I do know that when I open up and share in my blog or in small group settings that many times people are relieved and relate to what I’m saying. We are able to commiserate together, help each other and encourage one another. And that’s why I think it’s important for all of us to share our stories. So many people are fighting battles with anxiety and depression and need to know they aren’t alone. They aren’t weak or less-than anyone else. It’s OK to not be OK. And it’s OK to ask for help.
A huge thanks to Stacey for sharing her story!
Bio: Stacey Shannon has two degrees in journalism and started her own freelance writing company in 2002. She has had nearly 1,000 articles in various publications. While she continues to work as a freelance journalist, copywriter and editor, she also is passionate about blogging. Her blog, Families with Grace, includes practical and spiritual tips for families to create homes filled with grace, love and faith.
Want to read more Anxiety Stories? Check out the other interviews here.
Want to share your own anxiety story? Check out the guidelines here!
Connect with Stacey: