My name is Kate, and I work as a designer. My background is in product design and I have suffered from anxiety for a really long time throughout my whole life. If I think about when my anxiety was at its worst, I think I would have to say my final year of university. So the design degree, and then the final year involves quiet a large major project. It was a really really awful tough time for me, I was having panic attack almost everyday, and panic attacks was something that I definitely expensed a lot of at university. Period of high stress, a very big trigger for my anxiety, and had this really constant underlying debilitating feeling of anxiety and just no hope about my future. It was just how I feel all the time and I just accepted that as normal and I didn’t really realise that, that didn’t have to be normal, and that can change and be different.
Really listen to your body and tune into your gut feeling and what it’s actually telling you about what you might need, and make that a priority. If I think about the turning point from my journey to managing my anxiety and building resilience, seeing a psychologist would definitely be the biggest one. Seeing a psychologist has also really helped me to feel really in touch with myself and my emotions, so to understand more about who I am, and how I am in certain situations. what makes me sad, what makes me angry, what makes me feel anxious, and sort of self-reflecting a lot, so steeping back and saying ‘ok’, how am I feeling now, and what could this be about, and what can I do to accept those feelings and move through them.
Thinking about If I wasn’t anxious is another thing that’s really helped me, so if I wasn’t anxious in this current situation what would I be thinking about, what would I be doing, and how would I be feeling, and it’s a bit like fake it till you make it. If I took the anxiety all the way out of this situation, what would the situation look like to me now, and that has been really really helpful for me. So something else that really helps me, particularly in recent times to manage my anxiety is really accepting the anxiety and feeling it in my body. So lots of people, like my psychologist and my family have always said to me, you need to just accept the anxiety, just accept that it is there, and to me I thought how, I hate it, and now I’ve really come to understand in the last year or two what that really means, and for me that means physically feeling the anxiety in my body, and actually working out what it is that I am anxious about. So admitting to myself what might sometimes feel really shameful, the thing that I am anxious about. Because by feeling the anxiety and acknowledging its presence, it doesn’t have that hold and control over you anymore, and it’s actually more manageable.
So I guess I got to a point where I felt like I had a bit of a toll box of strategies and things that I use to manage my anxiety. So today I definitely still get anxiety and that’s not going to go away because anxiety is just a feeling, but it’s really different for me now, because I am able to manage it much better, and it’s far less often that it needs to be. So I’m starting to see anxiety as a positive thing in my life now. There are so many things that I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t there, such as talking right now, and I’m not as scared of getting anxiety anymore, am not as scared of the feeling and the fear anymore, because I know I can manage it, and to me that’s what resilience really means. Life is full of challenges and hard things that happen, and that it the way that it is, but resilience means that you know that you can handle it, you know that you have the strategies and the support and the tools that you need to get through it and manage it.