So, I have never met this woman aside from virtually but I swear she is like another soul mate! I can find her at Modern Day Girl being awesome, talking about anxiety and more! She is the sweetest human and I swear makes me want to get organized. But let’s not kid ourselves, I am too lazy for that! She was kind enough to talk with me and share more about her lovely self and battle with Anxiety! Oh, did I mention she lives in England!!!
How do you describe anxiety to someone who doesn’t have it?
Jess: It’s really hard to describe actually! I think the perfect way of describing it is like preparing for an interview all day every day. You are constantly on edge, waiting, expecting and planning for something bad to happen. It sounds so crazy whilst I write this but it’s honestly how it feels.
I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy to be honest!
Have you been professionally diagnosed with Anxiety? What happened to make you seek professional help?
J: My anxiety has always been there but it was years later until I actually went to the doctor. We’re talking 4 years at the very minimum when I first experienced a full on panic episode. It was embarrassing and horrible.
Anyway, the moment which pushed me to go to the doctor was on a Friday. It was just a normal day like all the rest of them. I hadn’t slept well prior to this and I was on my way to work. I felt detached whilst I was on the bus. Like I wasn’t really there. The bus didn’t feel real, it was so strange.
I sat down at my desk and just sat looking at my phone. I worked in a call center at the time and the phone was the pinnacle of my job. I HAD to sign on but I couldn’t make my arms do it. I ended bursting into tears right there in the office and a few worried colleagues came over. I was hysterical and that was the moment I knew something was wrong. I’ve never had that sort of reaction in a public space like that.
I’ve had many panic attacks in my life but, before this, it didn’t physically stop me in my tracks. Kinda like I was frozen in time.
So they sent me home and I rang my doctors straight away. I saw a doctor and was signed off work for 2 weeks and in total for 4 weeks. That was the moment when my whole life changed.
That was also the moment they diagnosed me. They said my anxiety is Generalised Anxiety Disorder – something I didn’t even know existed until I went to my doctor! The doctor was actually extremely helpful. They are a dedicated mental health clinic which they said was because of the particularly young population of their practice. I think this is fantastic – they really are a great practice to be with. I wish everyone could come to my doctors!
Okay, so you are a very frugal and organized lady! Is this how you maintain minimal panic attacks in your life?
J: That’s so true! It’s my way of coping I suppose. I never put the connections together until I realized that money was a huge source of anxiety and panic. At every moment I was expecting a call from a debt collectors asking for money I didn’t know about. I panicked that money would run out (even though rationally I knew I’d be okay) and check my bank account dozens of times a day. It became a bit obsessive.
With the help of my other half, and my own research, I managed to get my thoughts under better control. Frugal living definitely helps me and I bet it helps others too. This ties in with my obsession with organization – I have to be organized, or to put it this way, ready for anything. I’ve not had a panic attack now for over a year and a half.
What are some triggers for panic? How do you handle them?
J: Honestly I can’t put a specific pin point on what triggers it. You would have thought I’d figured it out by now! But it can be anything. It can be as silly as knowing I have work in the morning and being awake at stupid o’clock. Being late. Again money is a big one. Flying is a massive one.
I think it boils down to a fear of no control. Like I am totally powerless to stop something or change something. It cripples me sometimes knowing that there is nothing I can do to prevent situations. But this is something I’m learning to manage better.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on mindfulness since being diagnosed. It was recommended by my doctor and this is what I use when I find myself panicking. It’s helping to change my thought process which I think is a big one for sufferers of anxiety. I also use breathing techniques now which seem to really help. I’d definitely recommend them to someone who feels the grips of an attack coming on.
Is your family supportive of your disorder?
J: My family have all been very supportive. I’ve got mental health running in the family so I don’t think they were surprised to hear it when I told them. My dad suffers from bipolar disorder and other close family has depression and anxiety too. I know firsthand how these affect people.
How do you deal with the people who think you are just making it up or just *worry* too much?
J: Oh my god. This is such a big thing for me. I was SO worried people thought I was making it up. I thought everyone would say it was all in my head. Luckily though, I’ve not had anyone say anything to me about this yet. I’d say because I’ve been so open about it – people have realized I couldn’t just make it all up. But this is what I would change. There are so many people who have suffered at the hands of other people needlessly. I want this to change and I don’t want anyone to have to deal with this situation.
Okay, let’s shift to your frugal lifestyle! What tips do you have for someone who needs some frugal living tips?
J: I’d say definitely have a browse of my blog (shameless plug right there!), but also have a browse on Pinterest and Google. There is a huge amount out there. There are a few tips though that I think would be a great starter:
Try and plan out meals. It helps your wallet and your anxiety by knowing what to spend and what on. Take a shopping list with you to prevent extra spending. It sounds easy but I know it isn’t! To avoid boredom I’d recommend searching for frugal recipes. There are some great, healthy and cheap recipes out there for you and your family.
Another would be freezing your leftovers. I know sometimes I cannot be bothered to make food in the morning. I take leftover lasagna to work and its delish! Plus you avoid the expenses of buying lunch.
How the heck do you manage to stay so organized!?
J: Please don’t get me started on organization. I could rant and rave about it until the cows come home.
But, I have a diary which I use as a way of keeping my lists and goals in. I check it every day and tick everything off that I’ve done. I keep up to date with next week’s stuff and monthly as well.
Lists are scattered around the house too – they are great for staying organized!
I’d say though I have to do this otherwise I tend to get anxious. This is the only reason really why I have to be organized. Once something is written down, it makes me want to finish it. Otherwise it’ll stare at me until it becomes unbearable! Plus, my memory is a shocker!
Okay, you proposed to your future husband. Tell me a little about how this went down? Were there people in your life who thought this was ridiculous?
J: Well! Seeing as it is a leap year I thought, “I’m fed up of waiting for him so I’m going to do it!”
But on a more serious note, I had been thinking about it for a while. I was actually egged on by my work mates and my mum so it was received well when it was announced! It was a scary thing to do and now I know what guys go through!
Since you have started your future marriage breaking gender roles, is this how you guys live your lives?
J: I don’t think my other half thinks so, but I definitely wear the trousers in the relationship! I’m quite decisive and he is very laid back. I have to be the one making the decisions a lot of the time and organize out social life. I think I prefer it this way though, what with my organization obsession!
Oh and as the saying goes “behind every good man is a good woman” or something like that – I think this is so true!
I would say I’m a feminist but I believe in equality through and through. I don’t want to be attached to those feminists who soil the real reason behind feminism. As far as my relationship, and future marriage, goes – it will be a very much equal marriage. Why live by other people’s opinions? I know I don’t want to.
What words of encouragement would you give to someone newly diagnosed?
J: I’d say to try and not be afraid. I know this is easier said than done. But remember that you are strong and can achieve anything and everything you want to in life. Don’t let your mental health stop you. I did for many years and have some regrets, but then also so will you. That isn’t a bad thing either and don’t beat yourself up for it.
Use your diagnosis as a new lease of life. Use it as a way of closing some doors and opening new ones. You’ll one day come to terms with who you are and realize that you are a great human being. Your struggles have made you who you are now and don’t ever beat yourself up for that.
Give my girl some love, follow her on Twitter here.
Until next time my loves!