Anxiety: Mental health is just as important as physical health
Anna-Nicole has worked at The Perth Mint as the Manager Content and Business Marketing for almost two years. Those who work closely with Anna-Nicole would describe her as a happy and fun-loving member of the marketing team. However, what some may not know, is that Anna-Nicole has been living with a debilitating mental health condition, Anxiety.
“I’ve been diagnosed with a generalised anxiety and panic disorder and have at times experienced periods of depression. I also live with chronic illness which includes two auto-immune conditions which can directly impact my mental wellbeing, as well as my physical health. Living with chronic illness can be very challenging especially when the diseases are invisible to others. To the outside world, you may look normal or not sick, but in reality, you could be having a really tough day and even struggle to get out of bed,” she says.
Anna-Nicole describes her anxiety ‘as a fear of the future. The fear of the unknown, of feeling completely overwhelmed and worried about things that haven’t even happened or may never occur’.
For Anna-Nicole, understanding and learning how to cope with her condition, has been her focus for the last 10 years.
“Over the last few years some things I have found really helpful to support my anxiety include regular exercise, eating a nutritious and wholefood diet, and spending time in nature to live more in the present moment. I have also learnt the importance of maintaining a healthy work life balance to reduce stress and ensure I don’t burn out. Through more difficult periods, prescription medication has also been a treatment option that has helped me get back on track and into a better state of mind.”
Her advice for anyone experiencing symptoms related to anxiety, or is worried about someone close to them is ‘to make sure you are seeing a councillor … or find someone, even a close friend or work colleague, you can confide in. In my experience, the minute you start to open up that you have been through something like this then others share similar experiences and stories of those they know who are going through it too’.
Anna-Nicole feels it is important to recognise that mental illness is just as important as physical illness: ‘If you were feeling physically unwell you would visit a doctor, the same should stand when you’re not feeling 100% yourself. Asking for help takes courage and should be seen as a sign of strength not weakness’.
“Asking for help takes courage and should be seen as a sign of strength not weakness.”
When people think about disability, they tend to think about physical conditions such as people with mobility aids, those with visual or hearing impairments or intellectual disabilities.
Mental health conditions, such as Anxiety and Depression, are less visible and as such are often not given as much attention, even though they can be just as debilitating if not more severe than some physical disabilities.
Looking beyond the chair
Then I had a bike accident where I broke my spine. After around eight surgeries and a long time at the hospital, I found myself having to start a new life in a wheelchair.