City Girl Talks Anxiety: Interview with Katrine

For our anxiety campaign we decided to interview some women of the City Girl Network about their experiences with anxiety and panic disorders. The first woman I interviewed is a great friend of mine and was a Brighton Girl at the time of the interview.

Photo of Katrine by Michelle Pantke

Photo of Katrine by Michelle Pantke

1.What’s your name, age and profession?

My name is Katrine, I’m 23 and I work in the art. I’m currently an intern in Brighton.

   

2.Since when have you suffered from anxiety? Has it been going steadily?

I have had anxiety since as long as I can remember, I’ve only known that it is ‘anxiety’ for 4 years. It has gotten worse from having maybe 1-2 attacks a year to having them weekly and now having them every 2-3 weeks.

3.How would you describe your anxiety and its symptoms to someone who is new to all of this and might be experiencing anxiety, too?

It’s difficult, because anxiety shows in so many different ways, even for me. I have anxiety symptoms every day, like heart racing, too many thoughts, not knowing what to do with them, just stupid little things every day.

It’s like being trapped in your own body in some ways. When I started having panic/anxiety attacks I had no idea it was happening, I thought I was dying or having a heart attack every single time. Whereas now it’s more of a physical experience where I can rationalise it and tell that it’s just a mental thing. So I can tell myself that I’m having an anxiety attack.

It feels like the weather on a cloudy day where you can’t see far, but you now that something is happening.

One of my symptoms are every day thoughts like people not caring about me and not thinking that I’m good enough, but then I can rationalise and see that’s all in my head.

It’s really difficult to explain what it’s like, but sometimes I feel like everything in the room is screaming at me and it feels like you can’t move and the room is closing in on you.

Last time I had an anxiety attack I felt like I had to hide in my bathroom for ages, it doesn’t make any sense, sometimes you act like a crazy person.

4.What do you think are common misconceptions people have about anxiety and those who suffer from it?

The most common thing I have experienced when I tell people I have anxiety is that they try to keep things from me and try to spare me from any nervousness which is just making it worse.

Having anxiety means that your senses are heightened and you can feel if the smallest thing is wrong and when people tell you that nothing is wrong when something is going on, it can actually make things worse.

So they think that they’re helping you, but are actually making it worse, because then you feel like they’re hiding something from you. Not knowing stuff is making me anxious.

Have you had any weird reactions from people?

When they’re not used to people with anxiety, they assume you’re a drama queen or attention seeking for feeling miserable when it’s actually not something you can control. The last thing I want is getting attention for having a shit time.

5.Have you found coping mechanisms and tricks that help you calm down when you’re feeling anxious?

How did you find the video and how does it help you?

Me and my friends haven a FB group chat called ‘healing and love’ because we all suffer from anxiety.

One time when I was feeling really bad I asked them if they can recommend anything.

They sent this video and I didn’t think it would work, but I tried it out and especially the breathing exercises help me like magic to calm down.

Also I try to do yoga, I have been practicing it for several years and that helps me from having anxiety every day.

Talking to my friends and family helps me a lot, too. Finding friends who also suffer from anxiety and creating this whole new language on how to deal with it and exchanging tips helps a lot.

So the same experience makes you feel less alone.

Recently starting CBD oil also helped me massively.

6.Where did you find the info on how to deal with anxiety? Did you consult a doctor or psychiatrist?

I guess I thought I had it and then I went to a therapist who confirmed it and then helped me a lot. I read a lot online and watched a lot of people talk about it on Youtube and it made me recognise it. My friends also had the same experiences which made me realise what it was and I decided to see a therapist.

7.Have you ever been prescribed medication to ease your symptoms?

Not by a doctor, but I recently started taking CBD oil.

How did it help you?

I can feel that my every day anxiety has decreased a lot, like I see myself acting in different ways. For example. when I’m in a meeting and I say something, I’d usually think about it the for the rest of the day, whereas now I don’t worry as much anymore.

After a night of drinking I used to have a lot of anxiety the day after which is now completely gone. I’ve been CBD oil for 2 weeks, but I feel a massive difference already.

It’s 2.5% CBD and I take 5 drops every morning. It works throughout the whole day.

8.In what situations do you feel your anxiety get worse/better?

I think it gets worse when I feel like something is being kept from me and when I’m in a new situation. Like when I moved to the UK and was in a new country with a new job etc. I get really anxious when I don’t hear from the people I love or when they act differently than they usually do. Job reviews really scare me, too.

Why do they scare you?

It think it’s a real millennial thing, because for us work is such a big part of our life and for me a lot of anxiety revolves around me thinking I’m not good enough. So when I get criticised it really gets to me. But it also motivates me later, but it mostly makes me feel not good enough.

9.Does your anxiety affect your work, social life and relationships? If so, in what way?

Now it doesn’t as much as it used to, because now I’ve found ways to cope and live with it. But now it’s extremely important to me that my work and friends know that it is in my life. And it’s making me feel a lot safer that the people in my life know what’s going on.

Has anxiety affected your social life negatively in the past?

I’ve always been around people that were really understanding, but there have been situations where everyone could have reacted in better ways, but that was before I knew how to speak about it. But I’ve never lost anyone because of it.

10.Do you think that you will live with anxiety for the rest of your life or do you think it could eventually go away?

I think it will be a part of my life, but hopefully way less than it is now, but I think it will always be in my life. I think I’m actually okay with it, I mean it sucks to have anxiety attacks, but now I know myself so well and I know that because I have anxiety I know how people feel when they go through rough patches in their lives. I feel like I have more empathy because of my experiences with anxiety.

11.What are some last tips for people who have just realised that they might be suffering from anxiety?

It sucks, it really does and there’s no way of covering that up, but being open about it and talking to people is honestly my best advice.

Even if they don’t experience it themselves, they’re willing to help you if you talk to them. I think the best way is to talk.

Written by Michelle Pantke, who can be found as @badwolf95 on Instagram.