Images: Lara J Messenger.
When people find out I have anxiety, they are usually surprised, and sometimes even confused.
“But you’re so happy,” they say.
It’s true. I am a very happy person with a wonderful life. But that’s the trouble with mental health, isn’t it? It doesn’t discriminate.
My panic attacks started when I was a child. I remember being eight years old in hysterics because I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I would work myself into such a state that Mum would have to sit by me for hours until I would finally drift off to sleep.
At 10, I went for a run with my Dad, got a bit puffed and broke down thinking I was having an asthma attack (I wasn’t).
I remember having Mum rush me to the emergency room at 12 because I was convinced my throat was closing up after a case of hives (it wasn’t).
(Watch: Mia Freedman talks about how she deals with her anxiety. Post continues after video.)
In my older years, my anxiety started to take extreme forms – I was constantly convinced something bad was going to happen to my loved ones, because why should I be so lucky to have such a great life?
I have made a very conscious effort to do everything I can to manage my anxiety. I see a psychologist when I need to talk it out, I take various supplements to relax my nervous system, I meditate and practice deep breathing, I even eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels from dropping.
Above all things, I have been living a very happy, relaxed life – especially recently.
This all seemed to be working in my favour – I hadn’t had a panic attack in a year and my stress levels had dropped significantly. I was a new woman.