I’ve always been a bit anxious – the type of child that cared about doing well in school and was never rebellious — the kind of child to receive ‘Terrific Kid’ every semester for attitude and academic achievement. I’d say my anxiety helped me perform better in many ways. But then around 15 insomnia started. At 3 am I’d walk into Trina’s room and I’d make Trina do energy healings on me to help me sleep because I couldn’t without doing sacrifice to the gods to help me stop overthinking. She’d agree, but sometimes she’d fake it, and I’d tell her to wake up. Frustrated at the time, she’d be impressed at my level of intuition and jokingly say – “you’re so intuned”.
Fast forward to my early 20’s I’d have bouts of anxiety but nothing bad. If you asked my friends (not my family lol), they’d say I was always happy, high achieving, always making people laugh and appeared very calm. I’ve always used my self deprecating humour to get over things. If something happened to me or I was stressed – I’d joke inappropriately about it and use it to relate to people. Alternatively, I’d go into severe fix-it mode and bounce back by finding a dramatic solution like enrolling in a master, changing jobs, dating someone new or moving. To the average onlooker, I would appear even more high achieving. I blame my gypsy background for this. If anything change was my therapy. Hello, unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Welcome to the quarter-life crisis
Then fast forward to becoming single after always being in a long term relationship, and dating for the first time when a guy doesn’t just ask you out, and they are all of a sudden your boyfriend like it happens in high school. No, just the exact opposite – there are a lot of games involved. And then simultaneously you’re 24 trying to get ahead in your career.
A couple of years later, after ‘jumping back on the ferry’ to date random guys in the city from Manly, that I meticulously vetted like my natural recruiter background. There was a part of me that felt judged after constant rejection that added to my subconscious anxiety.
Now finally after 18 months of high achieving dating lol, I was in a loving relationship. Still, the high achiever meticulous ‘Terrific Kid’ student wanted to be the best in my career and maintain a sense of ‘perfectness’. Now at this point – I was halfway through my Master and managed to become an HR manager at the age of 25 and lead an organisation of 60 employees. Completely isolated and facing workplace bullying, I started to burn out and take every little issue or set back as a personal failure. Although, I was doing very well in my role – I felt very alone. At this point, no amount of change was helping me get that usual high I’d get when in a new environment. At this point, I was seeing a psychologist and paying $180 to cry. As Savannah would call it ‘premium sadness’.
For me and to my family, it didn’t make sense; I’d be vacationing in the Maldives, had someone who loved me, was living in the perfect apartment and never had issues finding a job and was close to my family. My anxiety quickly turned to depression, sometimes going so low that it would verge on suicidal thoughts. Ironically, when I was 21, I didn’t understand depression. But I did see it as the impetus for rebranding Thaisurgery to Azurite. I could see many individuals were suffering from it while applying for surgery. But this is a whole other story. But at the time I couldn’t completely relate to how someone couldn’t just pick themselves back up and find a solution. Boy was I wrong. Even to me, it didn’t make sense – I was doing everything right and achieving every milestone. And then I started to get very curious over how I could get over it – although it’s a constant effort these are my tips for dealing with anxiety and depression.
Tips for dealing with anxiety and depression
Before reaching for the antidepressants – try the following:
- Get your testing done – Thyroid, nutritional deficiencies and hormones can all play an impact on your mood. It sounds so generic, but get ALL of your testing done. Thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s can cause psychosis and inflammation in the body. Think about it; it’s an autoimmune condition attacking your healthy cells. Can’t be good for the ole brain. Unfortunately, many women have this condition. I have it and can keep it in remission if I’m good to my body – i.e. not drinking a bottle of wine when I want it (okay I still like wine). Lol. Eating whole, healthy foods, taking supplements and avoiding high emotional stress. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s your body preparing itself to perform for the task at hand. You know the quickened heart rate, the rush of adrenaline. But I mean the stress from a situation that you know is NOT good for you.
- Understand the neuroscience – Understand that anxiety and depression was created to help us survive in the wild. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not reasonable to feel HAPPY all of the time. Anxiety is what helps us survive and continue to better ourselves and our environment. Think about it – if you were complacent or happy – do you think you’d feel compelled to make a significant change? Studies show that happiness is only sustained when we do things to attain it. I.e. achieve a goal, adopt positive psychology such as gratitude, meditate, eat well. Foster positive relationships. If you feel like something is wrong with you – understand nature made us this way and figure out what you can do today to get happy.
- EGO – Understand that we operate in our subconscious mind 95% of the time. To illustrate, you know when all of a sudden you’re driving and zone out but don’t manage to die – that’s your subconscious driving you through the streets, not your conscious mind. Unfortunately, although the goal of the Ego is to protect us – it can have a few unhealthy triggers manifest in daily interactions that you established during the first few years of your life. Easy way to think of it – is that as a child, you quickly learned how to interact in your environment. If a parent or loved one showed you excitement for doing something that they approved of – you’d continue to do those things. In my case, I would get the most accolades for doing well in school or achieving.
- Nutrition – take B Vitamins, Zinc, Magnesium, keep your liver clean with milk thistle, turmeric, juicing (responsible for hormones) take adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha (lifesaver). Fish oil. Probiotics. And avoid gluten if you have a thyroid condition as your thyroid can mistake it for bad tissue and send antibodies.
- Get spiritually inclined and understand the power of manifestation. I like to set goals with vision boards and act like it’s already happening.
- Exercise – I personally only feel right if I work out. My two favourites are group HIT classes and heated vinyasa yoga. I used to loathe group classes, I still kind of do as I’m quite introverted – but it gets you off your phone and makes you concentrate on something else. Yoga, in particular, is suitable from letting go of obsessive thoughts and detoxing the liver.
- Understand the difference between your intuition and anxiety. Anxiety stems from fear, but intuition is a calm, gut feeling.
- Set boundaries – this has always been a hard one for me as I am a people pleaser and care about the approval of others. The interesting thing is that it’s more selfish not to have boundaries as you’re doing it solely to avoid any negative feeling.
- Understand that every mistake is only a failure if you haven’t learnt from it. And every rejection is a redirection. Very cheesy but very true.
Although, I can talk go on and on about this topic – and am always finding new ways to improve my mental health, the above list an excellent place to start.