Anxiety Girl Strikes Again

Last year I wrote a post about anxiety and how it affects me: When Anxiety Attacks. I wrote it because I know that I am not the first nor will I be the last person to suffer from anxiety. I am also a huge believer in problems shared are problems halved and talking away taboos is half the battle. So here I am, talking about it again.

managing anxiety

I sought help for my anxiety and it lead me to examine why I am built this way. There are personality traits that lead me down the path to panic land. I am analytical. I can see potential issues that others don’t pick up. I have a tendency towards perfectionism. I want to please people. I have a vivid imagination. I have high standards, for myself and others. These aren’t bad traits to have. In fact, they have served me well in my career. But the combination means that I tend towards disproportionate worrying. It means I need to be aware of the early warning signs and keep them under control. This healthy self-awareness is no different from the person who knows they burn easily and lathers themselves in sunscreen and a broad brim hat. I just protect myself in different ways.

When my head and heart start to race towards that unhealthy place, I take a moment. Rather than searching for a reason for my burgeoning anxiety I tell myself this: “This happens to you sometimes. It’s not uncommon. You don’t have to find a reason for it. You don’t need to justify it. Breathe. Be mindful. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge and let go.” In the past,  I have frantically searched for a reason for the tightness in my chest.  When I couldn’t find one, I’d conjure one up. I’d heap an imaginary problem into my head to provide myself with an excuse for feeling the way I did. I know more about anxiety now. I know it’s not necessarily logical, although it will wear that mask. When I stop trying to justify the anxiety, I take away its oxygen. I reduce its legitimacy and it shrinks back to normal size.

While I have managed to beat anxiety when it creeps in for no particular reason, I still have issues with ambiguity. Where there are gaps and spaces, I fill them with the worst possible scenario. Someone has’t emailed me back? They must not like me. In reality, they have just been busy. Someone hasn’t said hello to me at school pick-up? I must have done something to anger them. In reality, they are dealing with a family crisis and not as social as they normally would be. I am much less integral to the way other people act than my anxiety would have me believe.

This is something I need to watch. I can easily take unrelated threads and fabricate them into wild story. And then believe the story I have weaved. A vivid imagination, the need for closure and the tendency towards self-doubt can take me to some needlessly dark places. It’s then that I reach out for a reality check. Sometimes the perspective of another person is all I need to climb out of the hole I have dug for myself. Sometimes reading someone else’s experience gives me the light-bulb moment I need to reduce the blackness.



So this is me, letting whoever is reading and nodding along know that you aren’t alone. Not by half. What you are feeling isn’t silly or wrong, it’s your mind wandering into dark places. The trick is figuring out how to find the light or how to reach out to the hand of a person willing to guide you out.

Arrow 2

How do you manage anxious thoughts?
Do you have a wild and frightening imagination?

Linking up with Essentially Jess and IBOT

24 thoughts on “Anxiety Girl Strikes Again

  1. Mandy / The Mandy Diaries says:

    Anxiety had become my constant companion for almost 3 years. I lost my ability to work and be the real ME! After many hours of therapy, I have learned that anxiety doesn’t need to define me. Yes, it is a part of me but only a part. I have learned to give it a shape and colour and temperature, which enables me to contain it and therefore not let it take over my body and mind completely. It is then that I can manage it with breathing and time and taking a moment. I become aware that there is so much more to me than that anxious part of me. The rest of me can still do things – functioning things, helpful things, productive things. I have also learned that as horrible as anxiety feels, you will get through it.

    • Robyna says:

      I LOVE that idea – to give anxiety a form so that you can set it apart from yourself. It’s so useful to talk about these coping strategies.

  2. Flat Bum Mum says:

    I am right with you Anxiety girl. I understand completely and suffer from similar high expectations and perfectionism. I love the suggestion of just accepting the feeling and knowing it will pass. Thanks for a lovely, honest post. Bron x

    • Robyna says:

      Thanks Bron. The whole just breathe and let it go thing really does work (even if writing that makes me start singing Frozen songs in my head).

    • Robyna says:

      It was something I didn’t even realise I was doing until quite lately. There is a part of me that would have an explanation for my anxiety (even if that reason is fabricated) than accept that you feel anxious for no real reason.

  3. Collette says:

    Since starting to work for myself I think my anxiety has increased, although I don’t really identify with being an anxious person. But the things you describe – the school drop off, the email, and then feedback on my work (if I get it), I automatically assume the worst and then worry about it till I feel sick, or until I hear otherwise (such as friendly email back, or a request for more work, or a wave from said mum at school gate!). One of my clients requested a meeting a few weeks ago, I steeled myself, (and warned my husband) that this was the end of the relationship with this client. He kept saying he didn’t know why I was thinking this. Sure enough, she just wanted to discuss her editorial calendar and know how much capacity I had to help her. It’s exhausting. Reflecting on your post and my comment, I probably need to look at some strategies to manage this. Thanks for the wake up call. ?
    Collette recently posted…Womenfolk Series: Jo Langhorne, Life Coach and MentorMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Yes! That’s when I really started to notice my anxiety burgeon – when I started up working for myself. It’s interesting how many feelings that brings to the surface and how hard you have to fight against yourself.

        • Robyna says:

          I think that’s the thing — we all have doubts and anxiety I reckon (well, the creative women I know tend to) but once we learn to manage it, there’s no stopping us!

  4. Isabel says:

    Hi Robyna. You are such a good writer, putting a feeling like anxiety into words, so identifiable. I remember a few years ago at work, whenever my boss would request a meeting with me, I’d immediately think ‘That’s it, I’m fired.’ One time I went in for the meeting and said to my boss ‘I think you’re going to fire me, is that right?’ She just laughed incredulously. ‘No! Why would you think that?’ A tendency to over-analyse and assume the worst is not uncommon at all.

    How do I manage anxious thoughts? Hmm. I often go for a walk along the beach. This gets me out of my head and into the world. I talk to my husband who gives me a hug, makes me tea and tells me I am wonderful and not to worry. And I write about whatever is worrying me. Sometimes getting it out on to paper (or a computer screen) makes your realise how ridiculous some of your fears actually are. Not in a self-chastising way, just to look at your worries and go ‘Oh, right, there you are. Now this is how to deal with you…’. Thanks for the excellent post, Robyna x Isabel
    Isabel recently posted…When A Trip to the Supermarket Becomes a Visit to the PastMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Oh the over-analysis paralysis – I do it too. Our imaginations often serve us up things that are far worse than reality. Husbands with hugs and tea are wonderful beings.

    • Robyna says:

      Definitely not alone! I think it’s very common in women, more-so in mothers and then more-so again in creative types. So there we are – the triple whammy.

  5. Eva @ The Multitasking Woman says:

    Yep, I’m definitely nodding. How do I manage my thoughts? Well, sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t. I try my hardest to recognise them and let my ‘good voice’ take over and reassure my ‘bad voice’ that it’s all a load of rubbish, that I’ve felt this way before and that everything ALWAYS works out. But sometimes that bad voice doesn’t want to listen. My imagination can be a great thing and a really bad thing. It’s great because I dream up things and set out to do them, this is how I achieve my goals. But when it’s used badly, I can create absolutely ridiculous scenarious.
    Eva @ The Multitasking Woman recently posted…The Infobesity Epidemic: How to Avoid Digital OverloadMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      It’s the curse of a writer no? That imagination! We must use them for good and not for evil. I am slowly re-training my “bad” voice.

  6. The Hipsterette says:

    Yes to all the above! Great comments everyone – it’s good to talk about anxiety and other mental health issues – it helps to normalise them, and put them into perspective.

  7. Renee Wilson says:

    I think you and I are the same person. You described how I feel pretty darn well. I have an issue where my throat constricts when I get anxious. I can’t seem to get air in or out, I get the hiccups and the more I try to breathe the harder it gets. It can last for days. I can’t even talk sometimes. It’s comforting to know there are others out there who battle with anxiety. We do need to support each other.

    • Robyna says:

      I think it’s quite common amongst writers to be hones. And yes, whenever I read your posts I do think we are very much on the same page 🙂

  8. Cathy @lifethroughthehaze says:

    It is great to read that I am not alone, and that there are other people out there who really understand the feelings both emotional and the physical manifestation of them. I think I have always been anxiety girl but wrote it off as just part of who I am. The reality for me is that it has probably gone 30+yrs (and I am only 45 this yr!) thinking it was part of who I am when it didn’t have to be this way. I have spiralled through too many panic attacks that I would hide from the world and too much darkness. It is my time now to find my way out but that scares me too.

    Thanks for writing this Robyna xoxo

  9. bel says:

    I’ve suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for over ten years now, this post, well it’s like you’ve crept inside my head. I love the way you deal with them, I’d never thought to approach them that way, so thanks for a different perspective.

    I particularly had to laugh at your point about emails, this is me to a tea….just add in text messages and a few social media chats to boot lol

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