ANXIETY SUCKS CLUB MEMBER ASHLEY LADERER
JESS: Okay! Here we go! I’m the worst on the phone, so awkward! BLAH! Okay, Hi Ashley! Tell us a little about yourself.
ASHLEY: I’m Ashley! I'm a freelance writer and social media manager. I write primarily about mental health, something that I have a lot of first-hand experience with. I have been struggling with anxiety since about 10…and depression since about 18. Then I started writing about it and realized that I can kind of make all of the suffering semi worth it by sharing my story and helping other people out. I never really expected to be writing about mental health or be a real writer, but so far, it’s been great.
JESS: Ah! That’s so cool! I’m sure it’s pretty therapeutic to do that! I know writing in my journals and doing my rituals have always been really beneficial to me and my anxieties.
ASHLEY: It is! I think that it’s really important to talk about it. Because if we don’t talk about it, it just keeps getting more taboo. Once we can start a conversation about it, we realize that so many people also suffer from anxiety, and when we talk about it, it gets less scary in a way.
JESS: So true! I mean if I would have talked about it more when I was younger, I would have realized that a lot of people I knew personally were also suffering. A lot of my anxiety comes from me feeling embarrassed about what’s happening to me… I get embarrassed that its happening - which then makes it worse and worse and worse. So what’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
ASHLEY: OMG. UMMMM. The first thing that comes to mind is when I was in chorus in high school. It’s probably when my anxiety was at its all-time high. I was so scared and anxious about our big concert. I felt like I was going to throw up and I didn’t want to go. The whole time I was sweating to death, dying. Then afterword’s this woman, a friend’s mom was like “Omg Ashley, I was about to come up there and save you! You looked like you were about to faint!” So, I guess I did look pretty unwell. So that was pretty embarrassing! SO, obviously I quit chorus after that.
JESS: Hahaha you're like I did it!, IM DONE! I’m so proud of you for going and doing it! Well, this brings me to a good question. What sort of things do you use or do to help cope with your anxiety?
ASHLEY: Okay, I would say two different things. I take Paxil, which is an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. I also take Klonopin, which is a short-term- faster acting- anxiety medication. I take this when I’m having a really super anxious day or when I am having a panic attack and I cannot snap out of it. Those are my medicines. Besides my medicine, I do really find that exercise helps me- especially when it’s like an “angry anxiety” I love kickboxing, yoga for general relaxation and self-healing and of course I love journaling to help get my thoughts and feelings out on paper.
JESS: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
ASHLEY: I think it's how much I have grown in the past 10 years. I have become somebody that I never thought I could be or really ever imagined that I could be. I’ve done so many things I used to be scared of and I have conquered many of my fears and now I talk openly about mental illness. I think that my openness is probably one of my favorite things!
JESS: Yes! I totally see that in you! If you could tell your “pre-anxiety self” something, what would it be?
ASHLEY: I would say to know that physical symptoms of anxiety are just that- and nothing more. Like before I knew that I had anxiety- I had stomach aches, sometimes it was hard to breathe, and stuff like that. Every single time I was like “I’m going to die, I’m going to die” so now that I’m older and wiser and I know that it’s just my fight or flight response, this is literally my body’s chemicals going out of whack, these are just symptoms and feelings and that’s it. It took me so long to really understand that “You’re not going to die from a panic attack”
JESS: Yes! It really does help when you talk yourself down and remember that this is just your body responding naturally to the panic attack. So, tell us one of the tricks you use to calm your nerves. Not when like your about to full-blown panic attack, just when you’re feeling a little bit nervous. Like “Okay it might happen, I’m going to prepare this way”
ASHLEY: Hmmm let me think…..I'm not a big fan of deep breathing /relaxation techniques. I know a lot of people say that it helps them. But for me personally, it’s more like getting outside of my body and putting my attention towards something else, whether that be journaling or doing a puzzle. Distracting myself -I find is more helpful than turning within myself and being like “Let me focus on my breathing right now” if I’m at home if I can play an instrument or draw that’s great, but if I’m at somewhere more trapped like the office, then I like to pull myself away from the situation for a little bit, maybe take a walk down the hallway anything to just try and break the cycle.
JESS: That’s so interesting, I do know a lot of people love deep breathing techniques. Sometimes I feel when I stop and focus on my breathing it can sometimes make me fall deeper into the panic like I’m thinking about it too much. So, I think I’m with you on distractions! What makes you feel happy?
ASHLEY: I feel happy when I can make somebody else feel better by sharing my experience with them or making them feel like they’re not alone. That makes me feel good. Writing has been great for me because I have had a lot of people reach out and say like “Omg thank you so much for writing that, I thought I was the only one” so I guess It’s like that sense of accomplishment that’s nice to get.
JESS: Yep! I totally feel that! Making others happy makes me happy too! Ready for this one?! If you had a magical power what would it be?
ASHLEY: I would love to teleport! I think it would be so cool to just appear!
JESS: Do you see a therapist? If so- was it hard for you to feel comfortable talking/trusting them or did you just pick one a go for it?
ASHLEY: I was in therapy from the time I was 11 until maybe 2 years ago when I was 22. This is when I started to travel and therapy just wasn’t conducive to my lifestyle anymore. Because I was never in the same place for too long. SO my sister recommended that I try this really cool app called TalkSpace which is online therapy. So, I have been using talk space now for around 2 years. I love it. The therapist I started with -I wasn’t crazy about- so I requested to switch and I got matched with a new therapist and she’s great and I love her and I’m so scared that she’s going to cancel the app because I really feel like she knows me and everything and I don’t want to start over! I’m a huge advocate for talk space, even if you’re not traveling. 1 its most likely cheaper than a normal therapist, your matched with a therapist licensed in your state, and then you can do audio messages, video or text messages. I can do it at work, if I’m freaking out at the office, I can go to the bathroom and send her a message.
JESS: Well, I need Talkspace like yesterday! The hardest part for me with therapy was actually going! With my crazy schedule and just making the appointments turned into be more of a hassle than therapeutic for me.
ASHLEY: Yes! You need it! It’s amazing! Mine goes on 5 days a week, 2 times a day! It’s perfect!
JESS: OKAY LAST ONE! Why do you think this generation is so stressed out?
ASHLEY: SO MANY REASONS! Hahaha I think that one thing is that we are all TOO CONNECTED. With social media and such I feel like we always have to be plugged into something- and it’s really hard to unplug- especially if you work in digital media like I do- it’s impossible to unplug! Another thing I think is that this generation has had such high hopes- which is good- but I think it’s made us workaholics and finding the perfect work/life balance is something I think is really hard for this generation. Can you imagine what your life would be without social media?!
JESS: UGH! SAME! Technology is such an amazing and horrible thing. It’s done so much for us all but has definitely put a damper on our personal day to day lives. Thank you so much for chatting with me today Ashley! I’m so thankful to have you as our first Anxiety Sucks Club member and excited to meet the rest of our new club!