Anxiety Is A Real Asshole
I’ve spoken before about my life-long struggle with old mate anxiety. I’ve opened up about being a worrywart child, checking for gas explosions and snakes in our garden.
I’ve talked about how much discovering exercise has benefitted me, I’ve touched on my mini-meltdown (that not-so-coincidentally coincided with my 30th birthday) and I’ve briefly chatted about the importance of talking to someone about it all via my Instagram.
But I think it’s time I put something a bit more permanent down on paper…well, screen. Why?
A) Because it’s a topic close to my heart, and apparently something a lot of my followers struggle with and
B) Because I know what it’s like to feel like you’re drowning. Like nobody else in the entire world understands how you’re feeling. So I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. I do. You’re not alone.
My first experience with talking to a psychologist happened right after Big Brother, back in 2013. My whole world had been turned upside down and I didn’t know which way was up. I was struggling with some pretty serious feelings of guilt, regret and resentment towards myself. I didn’t know who I could trust or rely on. I didn’t know where to go from here… I was floating adrift. An emotional mess. It was a very bloody bleak place to be.
The show’s production company had always offered us access to their psychologist whenever we liked but I felt I probably needed to find one that was perfect for me, someone independent to the show. I had decided I wanted a female (I guess I thought she’d just “get” it?) but still, it took me a few attempts at finding someone I felt understood where I was coming from inherently, and that’s really important.
I’m not going to lie, this part can be a little frustrating and disheartening when you first set out on this journey.
Trying to find the right man/woman for the job.
It can feel like you’re spending all this time and money pouring your heart out, trying to give an introduction to your life and package up your reason for being there in a neat little bundle…only to walk away feeling like you’ve wasted your time.
I promise you, you haven’t. Don’t give up. Everyone responds to different approaches and methods so it’s important you find someone you gel with. Try asking friends or family if they have anyone they recommend, that’s how I ended up finding mine.
“I’m not going to ask my friends, they’ll think I’m crazy!”
You see, the funny thing is, as soon as you start talking openly about anxiety, you realise that nearly everyone around you is, or has, experienced it on some level. They might not even be aware! If I had a dollar for the amount of times I’ve heard friends describe symptoms of anxiety but not have any idea that’s what they were suffering from… well, I wouldn’t be eating a microwave meal right now.
I’m not doctor and I’m definitely not a mental health specialist but I truly believe our generation is experiencing an anxiety epidemic. Trust me when I say you will have more than a few understanding ears when it comes to chatting about this stuff, you’ve just got to be brave enough to open the can of worms.
Another concern I hear regularly when trying to convince people to speak to someone is about the price. There is a common misconception that a visit to the psychologist is going to cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars and whilst there are definitely some expensive ones out there, there are also so many other options available to you when it comes to covering the costs of your appointment.
Firstly, if you have private health insurance (and may I strongly suggest you invest in some if you don’t…even just a basic plan with mental health care benefits) then that can cover a large chunk of it. Private Health Insurance actually pays for almost 50% of all mental health hospital admissions in Australian hospitals – and is one of the most commonly claimed procedures by men and women under 30.
There is a very good reason why I pay my monthly fee to HCF. They have helped bail me out of a sticky situation more than a few times… whether I’ve cracked a tooth in half chewing on a Fantail (true story) or fallen awkwardly whilst skiing, breaking my wrist 10 minutes into the first run of the day (unfortunately, also a true story, see photo above) my private health care cover has taken the stress out of medical emergencies that I might not otherwise have been able to cover on the spot.
Secondly, and it amazes me how many people I chat to that have never heard of this option but there is also a magic little thing called the Medicare “Mental Health Care Plan”. Now, don’t get freaked out by the words “mental health”, nobody is implying you’ve lost your mind. What they ARE offering you however is up to 10 free appointments with a psychologist a year.
All you have to do is visit your GP and ask them to set one up for you. From there, they will identify the type of health care that you need and refer you to local mental health services. It’s honestly that simple.
You may find that a handful of visits is all you need to feel lighter again…or maybe you discover that after 10, you’re really making some huge progress and want to continue on, but at least you’ve had 10 free chances at figuring out if this practitioner is right for you, so you know you’ll be getting bang for your buck moving forward.
Personally, I thought for a long time about being more open and honest with my social media followers. I wanted them to see the real me, to get the full picture. Sure my life involves lots of fun events and movie premieres and trips to exotic locations but it also involves panic attacks and days where I can’t get out of bed. Anxiety is an asshole and can rear it’s ugly head at the weirdest, most inconvenient moments and end up being debilitating.
Towards the end of last year I was not in a good headspace. I had lost a lot of weight, stopped training. I had no appetite and no desire to see even my closest friends. I was back in an anxiety hell hole and couldn’t see a way out.
But sharing all of that? With 200,000+ people? Absolutely terrifying. To be that vulnerable and honest with a bunch of total strangers about something so personal is petrifying. But I needed to do it.
I was so happy to share photos of me in active wear, working out and taking care of my psychical health, why was I so embarrassed to share my journey taking care of my mental health?
It’s just as, if not more important. I can’t get up and train in the morning if I’m not feeling motivated and focused and happy. It just won’t happen.
So, whilst waiting in my car to go into my psychologist appointment, I decided to hop onto Instagram and quickly let everyone know where I was, why I was doing it and why I thought it was so important.
The response was overwhelming. Again, please, please trust me when I say you are not alone. My flooded inbox was a testament to that. So many of you reached out to share your own stories, to thank me for spreading awareness, for giving you the courage to speak up and ask for help.
But it wasn't all supportive. Apparently being an advocate for mental health isn’t “sexy”.
However now, at 30 years old, with thanks to my psychologist, my friends and family, my kinesologsist and trainer… I am in better shape now than I have been in years.
Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.
And if that isn’t sexy, I don’t know what is.
To learn more about private health insurance and all it's benefits, click here.