Welcome to Unfiltered, a regular Style article looking into the personal experiences of locals and their stories on taboo topics.

Following our last Unfiltered article on contraception, we’ve followed up and found five courageous Brisbane women to share their stories about the good, the complicated and everything in between on anxiety.

“My partying lifestyle gave me severe anxiety.”

It took me visiting a psychic medium to realise that my partying lifestyle was causing me anxiety. My Monday-Wednesdays after the weekend used to be unbearable, I would be so anxious to the point of experiencing panic attacks. I visited a psychic (to discuss my future) but the moment I sat down she jumped straight into my partying habits, which she linked to my anxiety. It was the craziest experience, I hardly even told her my name and she spoke in such detail of certain episodes and dreams I had experienced. The session was almost like a form of therapy for me, I took onboard what she said and took control of my lifestyle. It’s been five months and my headspace is so much clearer.

“My Dad has always had a toughen up approach to life.”

My dad served in the Royal Australian Navy and always had a ‘toughen up’ approach to life. I don’t know what the statistics are around the whole nature versus nurture thing, but what I do know is that in the past when someone would tell me they were experiencing anxiety, that line would pop into my head. That mindset has definitely shifted in the past couple of years, though I have had to actively practice sensitivity. I myself don’t suffer with anxiety but a number of my colleagues do and I’ve gotta admit, it’s pretty confronting hearing their experiences with it. One thing that stuck out to me in those convos though was how I can help in situations where their anxiety might rear its ugly head – which is to simply ask, “What do you need?”. Thankfully I haven’t had the opportunity to try it out yet – but one day I might need to.

“I still feel shame over my anxiety”

If you met me, you’d never know I suffer with anxiety. I can just hear everyone saying “oh, here’s another millennial with anxiety…” I can see them rolling their eyes. You see, I’ve felt anxious my entire life and if I’m honest, I still feel shame over it. Even though statistics show that millennials are among the most stressed group in history, I’ve never considered myself one of those numbers. I’m adamant that my anxiety doesn’t change me – I still believe I’m the same person at work as I am with my family and friends. But even though I’m open about my condition, my anxiety is still very much a private struggle. I found it hard to write about it here because there are so many facets to my anxiety; it’s complex, exhausting and unexpected. And that’s scary! Anxiety can be a very lonely condition, but everyone’s journey is different. And slowly but surely, I’m coming to be okay with it.

“I treat my anxiety with all-natural therapies”

As a Journalist, many people wouldn’t know that my undergraduate degree is actually in nutrition. I studied in clinic for a year treating people for three common complaints: weight loss, low energy and anxiety. Every day I prescribed supplements and solutions for dealing with anxiety; I knew the science down pat, but I didn’t truly understand the human side to it.

But my first year out of uni showed me it can really affect anyone. You never forget your first panic attack. I was driving in heavy traffic and suddenly my chest tightened, and I felt claustrophobic from all the cars beside me. My heart was racing, I was sweaty and shook and finally pulled over to vomit. I now understood what it felt like to have anxiety and was unsure when it would hit again. These days, my go-to treatment is magnesium and B vitamin powder, herbal teas and Rhodiola from my naturopath, and I’ve hardly seen anxiety rear its stressful head since.

‘’I was a scaredy-cat ‘’

For me, the feeling and emotion of anxiety started at just five years of age. Obviously then, I had no idea what it was; I just recall feeling ‘scared’ but unable to describe what I was scared of. As I grew up, the feeling of anxiety grew with me. But it wasn’t until I was 12 years old that it began to consume me. Fortunately, with the undeniable support and love of my family, I was introduced to coping strategies that included: sleeping techniques, beginner’s meditation, consults with a child psychologist and staying focused on my passions. Coping with my anxiety has certainly been the hardest thing I’ve done. But, I’m grateful to have learnt techniques to combat it so that it never consumes me again. Although I’m confident that anxiety will always be prevalent in my life and something I need to consciously work on, I’m okay with it and have never felt happier or more at ease.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, remember you’re not alone and there’s help out there. If you need to speak with anyone regarding your mental health, we recommend reaching out to Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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