• Jenna Overbaugh

Experiencing Anxiety as an Anxiety Therapist

I can't tell you how many times people have told me that because I'm a therapist, I should "know better" i.e., how to handle my negative emotions. Uh, yes. But I am human, and emotions are really complicated things! Hello? It's not like you become a therapist and instantly have mastery over your emotional self. But I digress.


The fact of the matter is that I've always had a tendency to be a little anxious. When I was a kid, I remember getting a stomach ache every morning before school. Looking back, I now know that was most likely anxiety. Even now, I still have days where I walk into work - to treat people who have anxiety, mind you - and my heart is beating fast, I feel short of breath, and I feel frenzied and all over the place. It used to be so bad that I'd break out in hives when I had to speak up at a meeting! It. Was. Awful.


But guess what? I always stood my ground in those meetings and I never, ever, ever, backed out. No matter how scary any interview was, any meeting, any presentation, any interaction - I always did it and made sure I talked the talk and (tried to) walk the walk. And that's what it takes, every freaking day. Even when I was in elementary school, on the first day of classes, I would raise my hand and introduce myself first. I might've been young and scared out of my mind, but I knew even then that I could do hard things.


As an adult, and especially as a therapist, I have so many more skills. And I still have to show up and kick anxiety's ass every day. When I feel anxious and frenzied, I make a point to sit down and catch my breath. I accepted support the other day at work when, normally, this would have made me anxious. I meditate. I forge ahead with the uncertainty and just try to take it one step at a time. Sometimes, you gotta go through your day with a little anxiety. You do it, anyways. You make "doing it, anyways" a lifestyle.


Now, I know this is just my unique situation and that it's not always easy for people to just "do it" - but that is kind of the mindset that overcoming anxiety requires, at least on some level. I think it also helps having some anxiety myself, because I can see glimmers of where these individuals are coming from. I can vouche for the fact that it helps to challenge yourself, to step up to the plate, and to do the scary things.


So if you're ever feeling like a fraud, because you're a therapist but you experience anxiety, or you're a trainer who doesn't have a perfect fitness routine, or what the hell ever, it's OKAY. You're human and these qualities make you all the more legitimate and relatable. And if you're a person going to a therapist, thinking they must be perfect..? No. We aren't robots - we're human, too, and we can probably relate to you more than you think.


At the end of the day, I don't think there's a better feeling than coming out on the other side of anxiety and fear. I don't think I'll ever get sick of that feeling of accomplishment. Because I have a tendency towards anxiety and have to challenge myself so often, I know this feeling well. And I believe that makes me one bad ass of a therapist.

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