Our chat was meant to focus on all things social media, solopreneurship and blogging (and it did!) but I also noticed a very clear theme to my answers. Like a shopping trolley with a bung wheel whenever the conversation would steer in a different direction, there I was veering left and straight into the cat litter aisle (my affectionate nickname for anxiety/panic attacks).
See, I have anxiety. Generalised Anxiety Disorder to be precise. I’m not alone.
In fact, as of a recent poll 14% of the Australian population join me for the tight-chested tango. That’s 3.4 million of us – not to mention a significant increase from the 1.3 million (9.7%) of 1997. It’s a trajectory predicted to continue.
So if there’s so many of us going through the same thing – then why do I tend to feel so alone when I’m going through a “patch”?
My answer? Because we don’t see many people talking about it. Sure, there are headlines. I cheer on the dedicated organisations fighting the black dog. I see the disclaimers at the bottom of related news articles. I know the statistics. But this – to me anyway – is not relatable.
I want to know the stories from people I know or trust or admire or see bits of myself in or can connect with. Insights into the weird and wonderfully diverse range of humans that manage their lives, families, work and creativity alongside their anxiety.
The saying goes that if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
So I’m going to share more stories in a hope that it opens up a conversation and greater understanding of what anxiety looks and feels like. and to provide ideas and hope to anyone experiencing this in their own life.
So let’s kick off with the very subject that prompted this whole topic…
How to survive social media when you have anxiety.
Social Media when not used with caution can be an absolute anxiety hot spot – especially when you have an online business, blog or personal brand.
Anxiety can manifest in a lot of people (me included) as super-sensitivity and hyper-awareness of how you are perceived. This is where social media gets tricky.
For example, I was once at a dinner party when I had a panic attack. I started to sink into my shoulders, stumble over my words and got overly apologetic about everything I said. Then I fashioned a hat out of tin foil which made me feel safer. That last bit isn’t true.
The point being, in-person with loved ones I could apologize. Leeway was given. Jokes that put me at ease were made (especially when I tried to ever-so discreetly check the pulse in my neck).
However online it’s a whole other kettle of freaked out fish. Online you send everything into the silence for the world to consume, reject, comment on, debate, share or ignore. When I’m rational this does not matter to me. When I’m not, the silence can be deafening. It can trigger a meltdown easier than Homer Simpson. Again – having instigated many conversations with friends, clients and mentors that work online – I am not alone in that.
If you can relate to that then I share some stories, tips and reminders in the video below. I hope you enjoy them and that they may help in some way. Also enjoy my jazz hands.
P.S. Due to the muse firmly grabbing me by the proverbial balls there are no bells or whistles or even washed hair. This video is as raw as the cake at a hippie wedding and there’s a lot more I could have added but as I didn’t – I’d LOVE to hear your own comments, stories, thoughts or questions below.
P.P.S. If you have friends with anxiety I would of course be gratefully if you shared this with them!