It's always time for tea

Tea Time Topic: Anxiety

Go make yourself a cup of your favourite hot brew and sit back while I chat away. In this video I’m going to open up and tell you about my lifelong experience with anxiety, how it manifests for me, what I do to deal with it… And I’m answering some of the questions you guys sent me through Instagram. Enjoy and please feel free to leave a comment if you need to get something off your chest!

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8 thoughts on “Tea Time Topic: Anxiety”

  1. Hello Lucy,

    So, I have been wanting to reply to one of your blogposts for ages, I have so many questions about the amazing things you do. I am one of those silent observers and love the way you handle your life, excperiences and work, but frankly I was (and still am somewhat) terrified to reply.

    Alright, I am doing this right now so I might as well get on with it. This post really got to me. I mean, I have seen a number of your video’s on how you deal with anxiety and they have always struck a cord, but this one even more so.

    I have always been a very introverted and emotional person myself, and do not remember not being like this. I remember I cried intensely when I shattered my mom’s mug by accident as a child and I was afraid to call my grandparents if I could sleep over, because they might actually pick up the phone and say no. Actually, I am still terrified of phone calls.

    For years I just continued trying and tried to surpress most of my irrational thoughts. I have always been the ‘suck it up’ kind of person, not wanting to bother everyone with my miserable understandings of the tide of the world and my place in it as a mere anyone. I did go into therapy as a child and as a teenager however, but both experiences were just not good for me at all. It felt as if they did not get what I was experiencing and feeling. As you say, it is very difficult to explain what anxiety feels like to someone who doesn’t know. Especially when you yourself have no idea where this sort of pain comes from.

    Then last year I completely broke down. I was tired of everything and had felt tired for so long. Constantly on edge, now this too, had caught up with me. Stubborn as I am I tried to overcome it myself. I couldn’t. And it frustrated me beyond measure. I cried hysterically when iIhad to quit my job. I couldn’t physically handle it anymore. Initially I did not want to speak to anyone about this, but at a point I realized I had to. Luckily we really clicked.

    I was diagnosed with a burn-out relatively soon and had to decide to take a semester off. I have never felt so embarassed and alone as I did in making that choice. Me, postponing my studies. Unheard of. Luckily I had my ups after that and could focus again.

    However, a major down followed after a very personal experience. My brain took me to the worst place I have ever been in. Even with the help of my psychologist, it was so hard to get out. Every day was a struggle. It is funny how you can think of so many flaws you have yourself, and then look at them as if they were outside the world of your mind and think of them as irrelevant. But then why do they keep popping up in your head? My thoughts just drifted away, whereto I do not know, I still often do not. All I know is that they were somewhere up there, and they were causing my eyes to feel heavy, tired, my sight to be blurry at the edges and my limbs to feel tired beyond measure. My neck cramps with tension, my breathing feels ragged and I have such a heavy feeling on my chest that it prevents me from sleeping.

    After a second opinion I was diagnosed with a type of depression and anxiety, and am now taking medication for it. While depression is something I will be able to overcome, the anxiety is something I will always live with. It will be tough, but it also makes me me. Over sensitive as I am, I care about a lot of people and do everything and more I can do to help. Furthermore, I do not care about my labels. If you want to label me, do so. But I am so much more than that. Everyone has a label nowadays, it does not make us less of a person.

    This has become an awfully long comment, which I did not plan it to be. But as you shared a very personal story, I felt the need to share mine. I am still recovering from my depression relatively slowly but will be alright, I can see that now.

    If you would, I would love to hear from you.
    All the best from a Dutch history student and fellow pre-raphaelite fan.

    1. Thank you for sharing ❤ It’s always good to know there’s other people like us. Sensitivity is both a blessing and a curse, which is unfortunate if you have a tendency to remember the bad better than the good, like you & me. Hold on to the good times and hang in there!

  2. Thank you so much for this video! I know that feeling of sounding crazy when trying to explain as accurately as possible how it feels to experience anxiety. I also have the situational anxiety thing. I’m an introvert as well and even though I’ve sort of trained myself to be ok in certain social situations, sometimes I would panic out of the blue over truly trivial things. That story from Spain with the drink… so relatable. I also experience anxiety a lot over exams, speaking in public, deadlines at work and I have this incredible fear of failure; because of this, I tend to postpone starting work on the specific thing I have to do, as I’m anxious of not doing a good enough job, so for a while I oscillate between procrastination and perfectionism. Of course, the deadline comes closer and I end up in full panic mode. Eventually, I do the actual thing at the last minute, sometimes without getting any sleep the night before the deadline and the anxiety is combined with the symptoms of physical exhaustion and it feels horrible.
    As for coping mechanisms, I have seen a therapist for some months a few years ago and I’m seeing her again and it has helped in a way, at least to put things into perspective and in order for me to not feel like I’m really insane, haha. I have some of my own coping mechanisms, but like you’ve mentioned, sometimes all I can do is just wait it out. It sucks, but that’s how it is.

  3. Hello Lucy,
    When I was younger I was very much like you (in personality, hobbies, anxiety, attitude, social preferences, having an old soul, etc.), and in many ways I still am. It is hard for me to listen to you talk about yourself and how you feel without giving advice, since I have already been down that same road.
    One of the things that I found most helpful in my life was reading a book called, “The Highly Sensitive Person”. I don’t know if you would consider yourself to be sensitive; but I myself am very much so. I have only read this one book which was written by Elaine N. Aron; so, I don’t know how good the rest of her work is. If you happen to read the book and find it useful, I know of some other books which you might like too. 🙂
    Do keep in mind that sometimes the first psychologist you see may not be the best match for you; but they are not all bad (it’s sort of like basing all vegetables off of having eaten only brussel sprouts before trying asparagus).
    I saw a psychologist as a child and it was a terrible experience. Much later, as an adult, I sought more help, and it was one of the best things I ever did in my life.
    Lucy, I genuinely hope you won’t make the same mistakes in life that I made. I truly wish you the best now and always. Take care

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. You’re definitely not alone. The worst for me is when I feel trapped, whether or not I actually am or how big it actually is. Also situations where I feel I should know what to do but don’t, like the part where you talked about ordering a soda resonated. When things cause me so much anxiety, I tend to put them off, which only causes the anxiety around it to grow in the back of my mind.
    I’ve had it for a long time. Sometimes it can get really bad, but for the most part I know how to deal with it. I try to do things when I think of them, even if I’m cringing the entire time. I stretch and take deep breaths and go for a walk if I can. (I find that fresh air and moving helps, but it’s usually not the best idea at 3AM.) Sometimes it helps to talk it through with a friend, because they see things more objectively and can bring me back to reality (like Robert does for you). Even if I know that it’s not a big deal, it FEELS like a big deal and that’s the problem. Having that outside influence can help a lot.
    Something that’s helped me a lot recently is Jenny Lawson, who writes about living with mental illness and just her life in general. She has a couple of books (including a beautiful new coloring book!) and a great blog called “The Bloggess”. I can’t count how many times I laughed out loud reading her stuff and how it reminds me that “I might not be OK right now and that’s OK.”

  5. Hi Lucy, thanks so much for sharing!
    Sometimes I experience future anxiety, and it’s very often about what kinds of desicions I should make… For example: right now I’m in the last bachelor semester of my biology studies, I will have my Master’s degree in 2 years from now which is great, but I have absolutely no idea what I should do after that (I know what I want to do, but I’m extremely unsure if it’s the right desicion… I would like to do my PhD…), and when I have anxiety attacks, which happen often at night or late evenings or when I’m alone or feel very much left alone, I’m so scared that I will make a wrong desicion that I will regret for the rest of my life. Very recently it was about when to have children. I’m in a relationship right now, he’s my first and only boyfriend and we’ve been together for eight years and we’re planning to get married next summer (yay ^^), but then we suddenly came across the topic of having kids and it was a normal conversation and I wasn’t panicked or anxious at all… And then later I woke up in the middle of the night and I was like… “When should we have kids…? What if we wait until I’m done with my PhD, I try to find a job so that we’re in a better place financially first and then want to have kids but can’t because I got too old and then once it does happen I lose my job because of them? Or what if made a baby-break, have the best time of my life staying at home and then never find my way back into the life of science that I would actually love to have just because I can’t find a job anymore because no one will want to hire a mom…?” and it pretty much went on like this, I started playing out different scenarios and time points and tried to find “the perfect master plan solution” and to a “normal” person these may all have seemed like perfectly doable options, but in each scenario I got to a point where I would end up in a position from which there was no way out, no plan B or anything that could save me from becoming someone I never wanted to become and I just felt so powerless and just couldn’t seem to make any right desicion at all… And I also had a similar crisis a few weeks back about my professional future (what if studied all the wrong things and will never find a job that can make me happy, give me and my family financial stability without me becoming a career woman that’s never home and barely sees her husband and kids, …), I started looking at different options and they all seemed wrong to me, everything had (to me) one or several major down-sides that I just couldn’t see myself dealing with, ever…
    About how I deal with it: sometimes I can make my brain accept that there is at least a “least dreadful option” among the scenarios that I played out and I can then settle with that for a while, writing this or these options down will then help to calm me down, I then feel that I now have a plan and if anything gets out of control I have it right here in the notes of my phone, I can look up the plan I made and just stick with it and then I will be fine… The real problem happens when I can’t find such “least dreadful options”, that’s when it usually spirals out of control for me and I would start crying… In which case I then just have to wait for it to pass or if my boyfriend is around have him tell me that everything will be fine, he’ll be there for me and we can find a solution, if not now then in the future once the situation arises…
    Other times when I know that my brain will start to search scenarios I try to find a guided meditation on youtube and just try to relax and completely empty my mind and just dive into the suggestions of the speaker. And depending on what topic I’m anxious about and my general well being (stress and exhaustion obviously make things worse) this really helps, I then take a nap once I’m relaxed again and after that I’m fine and feel stupid that I was anxious in the first place…
    I have considered getting help, but I never did, because similar to your situation, I don’t have any trouble in everyday life, because these things usually happen when I’m home alone or at night. When I’m out doing stuff it seems like I’m a different person than when I’m home, I then often feel strong and confident and capable at the things I do because it is science, it’s analytical, I know exactly what I can control and what I can’t anf if I can’t control it and something goes wrong I can (almost always) find an explanation why and how to improve and prevent this in the future. And also when I’m outside, surrounded by strangers or coworkers or fellow students I would just never ever want to admit that I have such doubts about my future which for some reason gives me the power to get in control of anxious thoughts a lot faster, often before they even start. I just want my professional environment to think of me as strong, independent and intelligent and I just don’t want anyone but my boyfriend and a few very close friends to see this other doubtful and anxious side of me.
    The other thing I sporadically experience (and this is actually what brought me to your blog), my brain will replay past scenarios and experiences in which I was personally attacked, embarassed or humiliated or sometimes just critisized for no apparent reason or things that I didn’t do… I have been bullied before and I still have trouble dealing with insults that are personal or feel very personal to me (professional and objective critisism with suggestions on how I should improve I have learned to accept a while back, I had trouble with that too when I was younger…)
    What usually helps me with these kinds of thoughts is just plain distraction or again meditation, which is why I went on youtube, found your video and it really helped me, you immediately made me feel a lot less alone with this kind of problem. So hopefully my (now way too long comment) will help someone else with future anxiety and once again: thank you so much for sharing and I wish you and Robert all the best =)

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. You are not alone and you’re not crazy 🙂 I personally don’t experience anything like anxiety or depression, etc., but I have been on the other end as a therapist. I used to be a therapist, before I burned out very young and wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Anxiety (often, but not always, coupled with depression), is probably the most common issue I would see day-to-day. I believe in anxiety. It is very real. And even if others doesn’t believe in it, it’s real for you. I believe in genetics and environment combining to make up our mental health. Sometimes, our brain chemistry is just different (which is often what medications target). And then we have ourselves and our environment. It’s like a one-two punch. I’m glad that you are doing okay, and that you are able to talk about it and share your story. Bravo, because many people are unable to do so. You have a lot of insight into what is going on within yourself, and that is great. Insight is a powerful tool to have when dealing with our minds. I’m glad you’re not 100% opposed to therapy if you should need it 🙂 Personally, I think therapy kicks butt and is super helpful with anxiety. It helps even more when you connect with the therapist (which may not always happen and there is often trial and error). Therapists are great change agents. By nature, therapy is uncomfortable and difficult, but it can be life changing. That being said, I would never tell someone that they need therapy or a diagnosis. You have described some great tools that you use to help in your situation, and I love that. Go you! If you like to read, it’s always worth reading about these topics, in my opinion. The more we understand them, the more we can get a hold of them. There are books and workbooks out there for non-professionals that can be very helpful. There are lots of tools you can fill up your toolbox with. The bigger arsenal you have, the more equipped you will feel. I wish you the best of luck and hugs to you!

  7. Hi Lucy,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with anxiety. You are handling it very effectively, and I hope that when you and Robbert are living in your own place together, the anxiety will subside even more.
    I experienced something similar when I was younger. What has helped me has been a combination of two things: first, like you, I can tell myself that these are thoughts I do not intend to think right now, and deliberately and consciously turn my thoughts to a more suitable diversion. (This help was given to me, I can’t take credit for the idea.)
    Secondly, I have chosen to believe that it’s not all over when we die. Our souls live on, and one day we will be reunited with those of our loved ones who have gone on ahead. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say; I simply have chosen to believe this, and it has helped to calm and comfort me when dealing with actual loss, or imagined upcoming loss.
    So the feelings of powerlessness abate when I tell myself that it’s not in my hands anyway, and I choose to trust that, as Dame Julian said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

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