Being anxious, and feeling the effects of an anxiety attack can start when we’re very young, but if we don’t know what anxiety is, or why we feel so uneasy or panicky in certain situations, that in itself can perpetuate the very thing we don’t understand. Therefore the cycle of anxiety begins before we ever have an opportunity to gain some understanding of what exactly is going on. Essentially we’re at a disadvantage right out of the gate and then we’re forced to just survive, and try to play catch up when someone finally educates us on what’s happening and why.
That cycle starting at such an early age can make growing up even more difficult than it already is. I experienced this very thing for so much of my life, starting at a young age, all throughout school and into my adult years. I thought I knew what anxiety was, and what being anxious felt like, but I figured it was just part of who I was. I resigned myself to the idea that it wasn’t going to change so I just had to deal with it, and try to hide it, in order to make it through life. I came to terms and accepted something that none of us should have to accept, that there was no real hope of feeling better.
Those experiences and feelings all throughout my life were a big part of why I ultimately choose to be an anxiety coach. Of course, the desire to help others was also a driving force, and combining the two seemed to be what my true life calling was. It may have taken me about 40 years to get here but hey, better late than never right! 🙂
My guest today, Melanie Vann, shares her insight as a clinician, on the debilitating effects of anxiety that she experienced in her life and also saw in her son as he grew up. In addition, we also discuss the benefits of being fully present, learning emotional regulation, and equine therapy to help with taking control of anxiety so it no longer controls you.
Melanie is the program director for Mental Health News Radio, and also a clinician and podcaster, as well as the founder and CEO of Your Wise Therapist. She has been in the mental health field for over 15 years and obtained her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Regent University and her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Old Dominion University. Her passion to help others embrace their hardships and heal has taken her to multiple realms of the mental health industry. Her expertise is multi-dimensional as she has counseled those suffering from eating disorders, brain injury, borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety, self-mutilation, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, narcissistic abuse, and unresolved grief.
During our chat on this episode of the podcast, we’re talking more in-depth about understanding and coping with anxiety, and recognizing how it affects us in daily life:
- Melanie shares how from the time she was a young girl, she resigned herself to the idea that she was a worrier. She had no idea what anxiety was or how it was manifesting itself. She didn’t understand why other kids seemed so calm and comfortable.
- As a child, nobody explains to you what’s going on so you are left to try and figure it out for yourself, and again the cycle of perpetuating anxiety starts at a young age and we don’t even realize it.
- One of the primary skills she used, not even realizing it, was to escape to her own mind where she felt safe and free from these anxious feelings.
- Learning to see the signs in your children and talking to them about what they struggle with so you can get them to help early on.
- We discuss how when you are unable to live in the moment and be fully present (mindfulness), it’s difficult to find joy and contentment in life and consequently, anxiety can thrive.
- How managing anxiety is exhausting and since it can start when we’re young, it carries over into adulthood.
- Using logic and rational thinking to combat anxiety. Expose the anxious feelings for what they are, rather than what they are trying to make you believe is true.
- Using writing and other coping skills to help get the feelings out of our head.
- How retraining our brain, to change the default reaction to specific situations that cause anxiety to spike, is a key to taking back your life.
- Equine therapy and the benefits of being around horses to help with anxiety.
- Melanie and I share some stories of our experiences with horses and how much they help you to be fully present because they themselves are always present and they will reflect back to you what you present to them.
- The resiliency and ability to come back to a calm state after being triggered is something that horses have down pat, and we can learn this as well.
All this and so much during my insightful and inspiring chat with Melanie Vann. Please be sure and check out, YourWiseTherapist.com for more information on Melanie’s work. including her Coaching, Counseling, and Therapy services available. And of course, you don’t want to miss out on all the incredible podcasts over on MHNRNetwork.com!
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Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP
All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on BeyondYourPast.com, and BeyondYourPastRadio.com is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above-mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.