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
There are some great resources on how to get help below:
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Online Resources and Finding Help
- Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741741 (US number) to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
- Finally, this is a great page from ‘Everyday Help’ with a ton of resources for mental health assistance such as financial help for therapy and medications, support groups, etc.
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?
My name is Becca Haney and I am the founder of Basically Balanced Living, a health and wellness blog that discusses all areas of healthy and balanced living. I am also a licensed mental health therapist in Dayton, Ohio. I work full-time in a private practice with clients regarding various mental health diagnoses, relationship concerns, and life transitions. When I’m not working with clients or writing for my blog, you will probably find me hiking in the woods, shopping at Target, or on a patio somewhere with a glass of wine.
What does the anxiety you experience look like (obsessive thoughts, extreme worry, intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder, etc)?
My anxiety has been around since I can remember. I was always the “shy” kid that worried too much. I remember as far back as a father daughter dance when I was 8 years old. When my dad asked me to dance I through a full on tantrum in the hallway because I was afraid of people seeing me and him dance. My anxiety presents very differently nowadays, but it has always been centered around social type situations.
At the current age of 26 I still have slightly obsessive thoughts about what people think of me or worry about coming off as awkward or weird. I am the person that rehearses what I am going to say to someone on the phone 10 times before I call them. Even with my close friends, I still get that little pit in my stomach when I am on my way to meet them or when they call me on the phone. I get very tense and my worry increases exponentially when I have to drive somewhere I have never been before. I will find it on Google Maps the night before and memorize what are the streets leading up to it and what other landmarks are around it just so I don’t miss a turn. This worry is heightened even more when I am driving other people in the car with me because there is that fear of judgment of how I am driving and if I mess up somewhere along the way.
Do you see a therapist/psychologist?
Currently I am not seeing a therapist; however, I saw one throughout graduate school and it is the thing that really helped me learn how to cope more effectively with my anxiety. The therapist taught me how to have a better relationship with my anxiety and it is something that I am now passing on to my own clients.
Do you take medication for the anxiety?
I have never taken any sort of medication for my anxiety.
How long have you been dealing with anxiety?
I have been experiencing anxiety, specifically regarding social situations, for as long as I can remember. I was always nervous as a kid when it came to talking to new people which affected my ability to make a lot of friends. I was also so nervous to try new things because of the new people that would be involved that I did not get involved in any sort of extra-curricular activities until I was a teenager. Just over the past 5 years or so has my anxiety dropped down to a more manageable level where I don’t let it affect my decisions and my relationships with people.
What are some triggers for the anxiety you experience?
Most of my triggers are either related to social situations or doing unfamiliar things (which usually ties into the social part as well). Like I mentioned earlier, some of my specific triggers are meeting new people, driving to/visiting new places, making phone calls, confrontational or difficult conversations, and speaking in front of people.
Have you ever dealt with the dreaded anxiety spiral?
Oh yes, I am very familiar with the anxiety spiral. It was common for me to know that I have an event coming up that I know I would normally get anxious about and start getting anxious about the anticipated anxiety. So I was literally anxious about being anxious … how crazy is that?! Fortunately, this is the part of my anxiety that I have done the most work on for myself and it has become much less frequent and severe. By working with my therapist on improving my relationship with my anxiety, I no longer have to have the worry about it coming up because I am no longer trying to fight against it.
Do you experience panic attacks?
My experience of anxiety has not included panic attacks; it is more of a constant tense feeling rather than a rapid, extremely severe panicked feeling.
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 have recently been using the affirmation “I’m safe, I’m secure, all is well in my world” when I get stuck in the anxiety spiral to help remind myself that there is no actual danger present. Anxiety is a fear response that the mind and body implements when there is either a real or perceived threat. The problem becomes when we are reacting to perceived threats as if they are a real physical danger. This particular affirmation has been helpful for me to take a moment and differentiate between what is a real and not real threat in that moment.
What are some preventative measures that you take to help prevent the anxiety you experience?
There are a few preventative things that I do to help support my anxiety. First, I try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. I have learned that for me personally, caffeine really amps up my anxiety level to an unmanageable place so I don’t go near it, especially so when I know a triggering event is coming up. Second, I talk about my experience more often. Holding in everything you’re experiencing can make the anxiety cycle even bigger than it already is because our mind can manipulate it to be whatever it wants it to be. Speaking these things out loud allows you to look at them more logically and rationally. Also, talking to someone you trust can simply help you feel not alone in your experience. Third, I try to make healthy choices throughout my daily routine such as the food I eat, how much water I drink, and if I am getting any exercise. The body and the mind are very closely connected so having a healthy body will help immensely with the health of your mind. Fourth, this may sound silly but I keep my environment clean and tidy. Whether it’s my house, car, or office I make it a priority to keep the places that I spend a good amount of time clean and uncluttered. Clutter and chaos around you can lead to clutter and chaos in your mind so keeping things around you tidy can be a daily preventative steps towards managing your anxiety. Finally, I started a regular meditation practice a few years ago and that has been vital to managing my anxiety. Being more mindful of your experiences can give you the opportunity to catch your anxiety early in a situation before it grows out of control. Then you have the choice to do something about it.
What are some of your favorite anxiety resources (websites, books, etc) that other people could reference if they’re struggling as well?
- Calm.com : meditation app/website that is great for people who are new to the idea of meditation
- The Mindful Way Through Anxiety ; book by Susan Orsillo & Lizabeth Roemer
- The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety
Why do you think the mental health stigma exists? Why are people afraid to talk about their mental illness?
I think that people are so afraid of mental health and mental illness because it is so abstract. As humans, we like to understand things and put them in little boxes so that our brain can process it more easily. But with mental health concerns, you can’t really see it, you can’t touch it or x-ray it, and a lot of times it’s hard for people to even put their experiences into words. I think people are afraid of the unknown and that is why mental health still has such a stigma around it; people just don’t understand it enough. Part of the problem is some people are not willing to understand it or learn more about it. For some it is easier to follow the mindset of “I’ll believe it when I see it” rather than trust the information that others are sharing. I think the stigma behind mental health has definitely improved over the years, but I think we still have a long way to go.
A huge thank you to Becca 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!
Becca Haney is the founder of Basically Balanced Living, a
health and wellness blog that discusses topics in all areas of health.
She is passionate about empowering people to live their healthiest,
most balanced lives possible. Becca uses her background in mental
health counseling and wellness coaching to educate, motivate, and
support others in finding happiness, content, and peace within their