August 10, 2016

The People →

18 → Melbourne, Australia → Nurse & Blogger → Anxiety (GAD) → Psychologist, NET, Communication.

1. Introducing Larisa

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself…
So, who are you?

L: I’m Larisa, Larisa with one ‘S’.

R: Where do you live?

L: I live in Melbourne, Australia.

R: How old are you?

L: I am 18 years old.

R: What do you do?

L: I have recently finished my Diploma of Nursing and pending registration I will be an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse (EEN).

R: Do you enjoy it?

L: Yes! It is all still new to me, but my experiences from my clinical rotations have been very rewarding. I have learnt so much, from nursing practices to life skills.

R: What did you do before?

L: Before I went on to do my nursing studies, I had just finished Year 12.

R: Did you study?

L: Besides my nursing studies, my study just consisted of primary and secondary schooling. This is when I attended over 8 different schools because of my anxiety.

R: What does home life look like – pets / kids?

L: I live with my parents and younger brother. We have 2 cats and 2 dogs. 1 of the dogs, my border collie Macy, I adopted to help with my anxiety. I have a boyfriend and we have been together for over 2 years now.

R: What makes you happy?

L: There are many things that make me happy, but definitely my dog Macy, camping trips, airplanes, making someone else smile or laugh and day trips.

2. Living with Anxiety

R: What was your first move when you decided to do something about your anxiety?

L: My parents had always been trying to get me help since I was young. They would take me to numerous counsellors and psychologists, but I would not cooperate. I remember hiding in my cupboard when I was scheduled for an appointment. When I was around 15 years old, that is when I first decided and accepted that I needed help. With the support of my parents I visited my local youth mental health centre for counselling.

R: Did you see a doctor?

L: Yes, my local GP

“I have struggled with Generalised anxiety since I was very young. I was always a worrier but my anxiety really affected my quality of life in my teen years. I would have anxiety attacks before going to school when I was 10 and 11 years old and experienced panic attacks as I got older.”

R: Has the anxiety gotten worse over time? or better?

L: I am definitely at a better place with my anxiety at this point in time. I dealt with it in primary school, but I was at my lowest during secondary school.

R: How would you describe having GAD in your own words?

L: To me, having GAD is feeling endangered in situations that in reality may not be threatening to a ‘normal’ person. Constantly worried and self-conscious about how others perceive you. Always focused on the negative and feeling hopeless.


3. Anxiety & It’s Impact on Everyday Life

R: How does Anxiety affect your normal day?

L: Before I got to where I am now, it affected my everyday attendance at school. I had really poor attendance in secondary school which resulted in me struggling to keep friendships, socialise and I lacked confidence. I tried moving to different schools (running away from my problems) hoping to start over, but I kept falling back in the same pattern with my attendance. There were some days where I wouldn’t leave the house and I felt worthless and ugly. My self-esteem is so much better, but I still struggle with it today. Some days I can go out by myself, but other days I need company to go out.

R: Have you found any positive aspects of Anxiety?

L: Anxiety hasn’t brought a lot of positive aspects to my life. However, because I have suffered with it, I understand what anxiety is. There would be a possibility that if I never experienced it I would not understand anxiety. I could have been prejudiced towards mental health. I wouldn’t be where I am today without what I have been through.

“I am not sure if colleagues or friends notice that I am anxious because it may come across as being shy, rude or a sook.”

R: If you had the option to lose your anxiety would you?

L: I wouldn’t say lose my anxiety completely, but to not of had it affect my quality of life like it did.

R: Does Anxiety keep you awake at night?

L: Not often now, but I would constantly think and worry about the future, past and present. I would worry about what would happen after I die.

R: Do friends or colleagues notice you’re anxious?

L: My friends do know I suffer with anxiety. When I was younger they didn’t know, but now I am happy to share. I am not sure if colleagues or friends notice that I am anxious because it may come across as being shy, rude or a sook.

“It does affect my relationship with friends and colleagues, but close friends don’t treat me any different”

R: Does it affect your relationship with them?

L: It does affect my relationship with friends and colleagues, but close friends don’t treat me any different because of my anxiety. Since I am always worrying about what I have to say not being valid, I tend to hold back even though I’d love to socialise. I am nervous to make the first move when it comes to socialising, so I miss out on possible opportunities.

R: Do you think your life would be different without anxiety?

L: I think it would be. I don’t know how or whether it would be a good thing. I probably wouldn’t be as self-conscious and anxious (of course), but there is a possibility I wouldn’t be surrounded by the people I am today or given the opportunities I have received.

4. Larisa’s Writing –

R: What was your inspiration for launching it?

L: I wrote my piece My Anxiety and wanted to share it. I wasn’t sure how, but I decided on putting a website together. So from that I have added more posts from camping trips, to travel and fundamentally anxiety. I wanted to post my anxiety story when I finished my last day of nursing placement. So I gave my facebook friends the option to click a link if they were interested, instead of a long facebook post. It seemed liked a less ‘annoying’ way, as I don’t want to come across as wanting to be an attention seeker.

“I received more feedback on facebook than I expected. Friends left heart-warming comments on the facebook post which was very humbling.”

R: What is your primary aim?

L: My aim is to hopefully inspire or motivate others to better themselves. It would also be great to be able to connect with other people to give them support.

Have you received any great feedback / response?

L: I received more feedback on facebook than I expected. Friends left heart-warming comments on the facebook post which was very humbling. I got a few comments on that particular post and one was from someone who found me on twitter. I am very appreciative that anyone would take the time to read or comment on something I have done. I am still learning on how to get it out there more, I don’t expect much. I just really want to help others and motivate them to want to get better.


5. Dealing With It

R: Have you been officially diagnosed by a health professional?

L: Yes, I was diagnosed with anxiety in primary school by a health professional and I was also diagnosed with depression in my mid teen years.

“I took antidepressants for a few years. I am not against them, but for me it was personally not improving my mental health. I gained weight on my antidepressants because my appetite increased and this made me extremely self-conscious.”

R: Did they prescribe medication?

L: Yes

R: Do you / Did you take medication?

L: I took antidepressants for a few years. I am not against them, but for me it was personally not improving my mental health. I gained weight on my antidepressants because my appetite increased and this made me extremely self-conscious.

R: How do you best manage it? (medication, meditation, yoga, alternative medicines, or something else)

L: I eventually found a psychologist that I clicked with. She let me talk through my problems and then gave me tools to help cope with and overcome my anxiety. I had to be the one to put the tools into place though, which I eventually did. I also put myself out of my comfort zone and did things that made me anxious in order to get past them. I have been seeing a chiropractor since I was 12 years old. My chiropractor is trained in neuro emotional technique (NET) a mind-body technique that helps correct imbalances that cause stress. I notice great relief after NET.

Did any treatments work?

L: Yes, I believe a combination of the above all contributed.

R: Do you feel as if you’re in control now?

L: I believe I am in more control now. I can sometimes recognise when a panic attack is coming on and decide to change my thoughts and distract myself.

R: Have you seen a therapist?

L: Yes, a psychologist.

R: If so, did therapy help?

L: Yes, because my psychologist gave me advice and skills, I just had to implement them.

6. Origins of Anxiety

R: Where does your Anxiety come from?

L: I couldn’t pin point exactly where my anxiety came from. I believe it may stem from being a shy child and having family members with mental illnesses.

R: Did any health professionals explain where your Anxiety originated?

L: I wouldn’t say they figured out where it originated from, but probably hereditary.

R: Do family members have Anxiety?

L: Yes.

R: Anxiety can result from a difficult childhood. Did you experience trauma as a child?

L: I didn’t have a stressful upbringing, however when I was a few months old I had heart surgery. The first operation was not successful, I had to have a blood transfusion and I lost the pulse in my foot. When I was three years old I lost my Pa to cancer. I may not remember much from those ages, especially my heart surgery, but I am open to believing that these traumas could relate to my anxiety.

7. Advice To Your Younger Self

R: If you could go back and give your younger self some advice about social anxiety, what would you say? What would you do differently?

L: I would say to my younger self to not worry about what other people could be thinking of you because it’s highly likely they aren’t judging or thinking about you anyway. I would tell myself to look at all the positives and accept help sooner. So I don’t look back on my childhood as being an anxious and negative time.

8. Being Proactive

R: Do you tell friends, family and colleagues that you have anxiety?

L: Yes, I am happy to tell friends and family. Though sometimes family members (extended family) cannot fathom mental illness. If suitable, I will tell colleagues as well.

Do you know others with anxiety?

L: Yes

R: How do you educate yourself on management and resources? Do you read specific blogs, magazines or news articles?

L: I tend to refer back to the education my psychologist provided me with. I sometimes look for posts on the internet, but nothing in particular. I also love finding inspiring quotes because they motivate me.

R: Have you read any great books about anxiety?

L: My youth mental health centre provided me with a print out of a chapter from a book. The book is called Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay. Chapter 2 is called The Pathological Critic which talks about the inner negative voice. When I read this, I found it very relatable.

9. Like-Minded Network

R: Can you recommend any therapists / doctors / specialists / coaches / mentors / clinics / foundations?

L: I would recommend headspace. A youth mental health foundation that I went through with support easily accessible.


10. What’s Next?

R: What’s on your horizon for 2016?

L: I have been successful and fortunate enough to have been offered a position in a Graduate Nurse Program at a hospital. So in October I will commence my grad year, where I will be working, but still receive support as I transition from student nurse to nurse. I celebrate my 19th birthday in September and hopefully more camping trips are on the cards.

R: What next for your anxiety (GAD)?

L: To continue to put myself out of my comfort zone and hopefully motivate and inspire other people.

R: Thanks Larisa!

11. Connect with Larisa

Twitter: @larisajayne97
Instagram: @larisajayne

Rodger Hoefel in conversation with Larisa Jayne
Images supplied by Larisa, or from Larisa’s Twitter 

One Comment for The People →

back to top