Phoebe Crayk is a 30-year-old interactive learning designer from England. A few years ago, she moved abroad to France.
“I have suffered from mental health for over 10 years but within that time it has manifested in different ways alongside the labelling of different diagnoses,” she told me. She says that anxiety has been with her for a long time, even though she was originally misdiagnosed with depression twelve years ago, at 18.
“At the time, I went along with the diagnosis of depression, but it was a relief when at 30 years old the term anxiety was medically used for the first time,” she said.
She has been experiencing panic attacks for a long time but says “they are not like the ones you see in films.”
“My palms wouldn’t go sweaty; I never lost my breath. My heart rate wouldn’t rocket. So, I did not think it was anxiety,” she said.
This is one of the reasons she never associated these attacks with a potential anxiety diagnosis before. However, she says that even though she has periods of depression, she never fitted with what she calls “the label.”
“Having a doctor tell me that perhaps I had anxiety made a lot of sense to me,” she added.
Crayk highlighted that for some people, an anxiety diagnosis can be daunting. In her case, it has helped her to understand some aspects of her personality, her actions, and reactions to things.
“Maybe the way you act has more to do with the disorder than it has to do with yourself,” she said. “Knowing that can be very useful,” she added.
Crayk’s anxiety often manifests itself through a movement of emotions and reactions. An intense set of emotions, starting with fear, that would lead to anger, that would then lead to a feeling of sadness.
“It is kind of a rotation for me, and I feel everything very intensely. It always starts with internal thoughts, fears, and a negative inner dialogue,” she said.
She explains that those anxiety attacks often begin with her thinking of a negative scenario. She would experience the thought of not being liked, not having friends, or not being good at her job. Not being good enough. This built-up fear would then appear in social situations. She would find proof that her negative thoughts are true.
Luckily, Crayk has learned a few helpful tricks along the way. The first one is therapy. It allowed her to understand how her mental health worked, and to implement coping mechanisms. Crayk adds that the key to therapy in her opinion is to find the right therapist for you.
Two other activities she finds helpful include going for walks and talking to people. She adds that at work, talking about her anxiety made things slightly easier for her, and deplores that the topic is still not always taken seriously.
“In recent years I think that the mental health of staff is more valued or understood but it is still somewhat taboo,” she said.
Dealing with anxiety has helped Phoebe to be thoughtful and compassionate. What can be said about her is that she managed to turn this challenge into a strength.