I, like so many other women in Australia, suffer from anxiety.
Some days it doesn’t affect my life at all while on others it keeps me holed up at home, continuously worried if people actually like me, constantly replaying and analysing conversations in my head or just simply fearing the worst.
But rather than allowing it to hinder my life, I sought help from someone in my twenties and it’s changed my perspective on anxiety completely, allowing me to now use it as a tool to make myself a better, stronger person.
From the first day of primary school to my very last I was relentlessly bullied.
Why? Because my family wasn’t the typical one (of the time). My father left when I was born and as my mum was too young to raise me, my Nan and Pa did (alongside their own 12 children).
While it was something I was particularly proud of, believing my grandparents to be awesome, it made me a target for playground torment. From general teasing to verbal abuse, my family’s differences were used against me by other children, escalating to acts of regular physical violence. That’s where my (undiagnosed) anxiety journey began.
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My first real memory of experiencing anxiety was at a primary school assembly in prep. I would have been around six years old. I recall the surging panic running through my mind, accelerated heart rate and the uncontrollable urge to run away as fast as my legs would carry. I wanted to sink into a hole where nobody could see me and cry, all at once.
I then remember projectile vomiting in front of the entire school. Needless to say it’s a moment in life that I’ll never forget and one that certainly didn’t help my insecure situation.
At the time my Nan put it down to my nerves and “imagination” and after a lengthy one-sided conversation of telling me so, I dismissed how I was feeling.
However scenarios like this continued through primary school and what I thought were just nerves didn’t ease up. Whenever I brought it up I was told to ‘stop worrying’ or ‘you’re stressing too much’, again making me feel as if my thoughts and emotions were not real or important enough to understand. I honestly thought I was going crazy.
During high school my anxiety truly manifested itself and began ruling my life and decisions. My grandfather passed away and my world turned upside down. I found it hard to trust people and believed those who did befriend me had hidden agendas.