Anxiety Stories

Anxiety Stories: Gina

Welcome to ‘Anxiety Stories!’ I (Laura of The Mindful Mom Blographer), started Anxiety Stories after I read Brene’ Brown’s book ‘Daring Greatly’. In the book, Brown talks extensively about shame, which is something I think many people who suffer from anxiety feel – as well as feeling alone.

We all know there is a mental health stigma in today’s society. So how can we remove that stigma? By removing people’s shame, and let them know they’re not alone.

Anxiety is a lot more common than people realize – I know this from all the comments and DMs I get whenever I get vulnerable about my anxiety experiences. Yet still, the stigma!

My hope with Anxiety Stories is that we can normalize anxiety by showing people’s stories from all walks of life. I ask that each person who conducts an interview be willing to be a little bit vulnerable, and each person who reads these interviews holds the interviewee in a loving space, knowing they’ve put themselves out there for a good cause.

*If you are dealing with anxiety or another type of mental illness, please talk with a 
doctor. 

There are some great resources on how to get help below:


Last but not least, please note that I nor my interviewees aren’t medical professionals, and the resources and tips are not to replace professional medical advice. We are simply sharing our stories and what we know from working through our anxiety with professionals in our own life. If you are feeling any type of mental health symptoms, please seek medical assistance.


I hope you enjoy the interview.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? What types of things do you enjoy doing?

I’m Gina from the Steps to Self blog. I’m a southern girl from North Carolina. I like reading, good movies, kayaking, hiking, and camping. The beach is my absolute favorite place to be! I’m married with four kids and a miniature schnauzer. I work full-time as a professional writer and project manager. I have a serious weak spot for gummy bears.

What does the anxiety you experience look like (obsessive thoughts, extreme worry, intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder, etc)?

I have generalized anxiety, which for me looks like lots of worry and negative self-thoughts that repeat over and over. I replay my mistakes in my mind and tell myself about all my flaws—fun, right? I worry that bad things will happen (to my kids, for example). I also experience anxiety about social situations.

Do you see a therapist/psychologist?

I see a therapist periodically as needed. They are so helpful when going through a rough patch to be able to get things under control. I also check in with a psychiatrist at an appropriate interval for how I’m doing, which may mean monthly when I need more care to yearly if I’m doing well.

Do you take medication for the anxiety?

Yes, I currently take an SNRI. It took some trial and error to find a medication that worked for me. The first SSRI I tried helped with depression but made my anxiety worse.

I was able to go off my medication for about a year for my last pregnancy and did quite well, but I felt I needed it again after returning to work (I experience combined depression and anxiety). There is very little data on the medication I use and breastfeeding. This made me pretty nervous, but after consulting with my psychiatrist and daughter’s pediatrician, I decided to proceed. She has not experienced any ill effects.

While I know I can go without my medication, life is SO much easier with it.

How long have you been dealing with anxiety?

Honestly, I think I’ve had it since I was a kid. I’ve always been an extreme worrier and incredibly shy. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that all those thoughts in my head weren’t exactly normal.

When I first started anxiety medication and the negative voice in my head quieted down, I was blown away. I had never realized other people don’t deal with that all the time. It was pretty life changing. My confidence increased, I got a promotion. I felt like a superhuman version of myself.

What are some triggers for the anxiety you experience?

Generally, upcoming things or unknowns.

Work is a big one for me right now. Anxiety can be so frustrating. I like my job and I perform well. Something about Sunday/Monday and the impending workweek triggers my anxiety big time. I often debate about calling out sick, but then I feel so guilty if I do that it doesn’t really help.

I also like to work myself up over upcoming social situations so that I end up not wanting to go, backing out, or not enjoying myself.

One of the hardest things is I can also feel anxiety without a single direct cause. Maybe it’s just things building up over time, or something I can’t put my finger on. That makes it even harder to explain or understand why I’m feeling bad.

Have you ever dealt with the dreaded anxiety spiral?

Oh yes. Recently, I realized my teenage daughter had gotten access to an internet chat feature. I went down the road of what a horrible parent I am, that now she would be sucked into strange interest groups, never lead a normal life, and of course pull her siblings down this path with her. I was so certain her life was forever changed. I was pacing around with rapid breathing and out-of-control thoughts. That’s just an example. My husband has gotten pretty good at helping to talk me down when I start to get these spiraling thoughts. I’m so lucky to have such an understanding partner.

Do you experience panic attacks?

I’ve only had full-blown panic attacks a few times, thankfully. They are so scary! With my first, I had no idea what was happening and ended up in the ER. My best friend drove me and told me it sounded like anxiety, but I had no idea what that looked like! Another panic attack I believe was brought on by caffeine, so I’ve since reduced my caffeine intake considerably. I’ve had them at work a couple times, which feels so embarrassing.

What are some things you do while you’re having a panic attack or are in an anxiety spiral to help pull yourself out of it?

I use the mindfulness strategies my therapist taught me. What is something I can feel (the shoes on my feet), something I can hear (a fan blowing), something I can taste (coconut lip balm), something I can see (cars outside), something I can smell (carpeting?). I try to slow my thoughts and practice deep breathing.

Related: Interested in incorporating easy mindfulness practices into your life? Sign up for my free 7-day e-course here.


What are some preventative measures that you take to help prevent the anxiety you experience?

Self-care is so important. You need to have time for yourself to decompress (can you hear my therapist talking?). I’m still working hard to carve out time for me as a working mom of four kids. I also find the regular practice of meditation to be helpful. You don’t have to be an expert, and it’s not all hippy zen—trust me.

Related: Need a quick break in your day to breathe? Check out my 2-minute self-guided mindfulness meditations.


What are some of your favorite anxiety resources (websites, books, etc.) that other people could reference if they’re struggling as well?

I enjoyed the 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actual Works – A True Story by Dan Harris. I follow some uplifting Instagrammers (such as @anxiety_wellbeing, @feelbetterclub_, @selfcareisforeveryone). I’m currently trying out some meditation apps.

Why do you think the mental health stigma exists? Why are people afraid to talk about their mental illness?

People don’t want others to think that they’re crazy, weak, or broken. They don’t want to be treated differently or discriminated against. It makes living with a mental illness so much harder and isolating. I wish I could tell my work, “I’m having a really high anxiety day,” and not need to make up excuses for working from home or rescheduling meetings. I’ve only shared what I go through with a few close friends.

I think it’s something we really need to work on changing. These disorders are so common. It seems silly that we try to pretend they don’t exist.

One of the reasons I started my blog is to share my experiences and hopefully help other moms with mental health struggles.

A huge thank you to Gina for sharing her story!!!


Want to read more Anxiety Stories? Check out the other interviews here.


Want to share your own anxiety story? Check out the guidelines here!

About Gina:

Gina is a working mom of four kids ranging from teething to teen. She’s no stranger to mental health struggles and exhaustion. She found out the hard way how important it is to take care of herself when, as moms, we can be so focused on giving everything to our precious little ones. She is still working towards this every day, and is so pleased to help others in this journey.

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