Coping With Anxiety
- Half Baked Harvest creator Tieghan Gerard, 30, has admitted to battling anxiety “privately” and how she copes with the negative comments surrounding her weight.
- Gerard says she does not have an eating disorder, but instead, is battling chronic social and separation anxiety.
- Anxiety symptoms include feelings of irritability, fatigue, and nervousness. People struggling with anxiety also have trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and rapid heart rate which leads to hyperventilation.
- Therapy and medication are the two most recommended forms of treatment for individuals with anxiety, and treatments vary depending on the type of anxiety an individual has.
- Dr. Marianna Strongin, a clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy, has been helping the SurvivorNet community by sharing coping mechanisms and a structured way to think about handling these issues.
Gerard, who insists she does not have an eating disorder, but instead is battling chronic social and separation anxiety.Read More
Gerard admitted to The New York Times that she often forgets to eat and sleep, and focuses her energy on work when she’s feeling stressed or anxious.View this post on Instagram
Gerard, who lives in a converted horse barn and works out of a studio barn built next to her family’s home, has been living just “a few hundred yards” from her loved ones due to her anxiety issue, she told the news outlet.
When she attempted to study fashion at a school in Los Angeles, she ultimately dropped out as a result of homesickness.
As for her mom, Jen Gerard, who also helps with her daughter’s business, she’s dubbed critics who comment on her daughter’s weight as “judgmental,” telling the NYT, “It’s unfortunate that people feel entitled to comment on someone being underweight, when they would never do that if the person was overweight.”
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Gerard, who founded her Half Baked Harvest blog in 2012 and has since amassed more than 5.4million followers on her social media pages, previously spoke with the “Mimi” podcast on the harsh comments she’s received in regard to her body size.
During the July interview, Gerard addressed how she does have a “loyal community” of followers, however the negative commenters having grown as she’s become “more forward-facing.”
Speaking on the podcast, she explained, ” I think because I’m in food and I’m a very tiny person, I get a lot of negative comments about my weight and all these things.
“And it’s just like, you don’t know me. You don’t know how I live my life. … It is so sad and at first it [the negative comments] killed me.”
View this post on Instagram
Although Gerard does receive a lot of harsh comments, she revealed she has hired full-time employees to help delete and remove the negativity across her social media platforms.
When a fan reaches out in a private message with concern she chooses to “respond with the truth.”
“I have nothing to hide. I think that’s all you can do,” she said on the podcast.
However, when people leave public comments, she chooses not to reply.
“If someone is leaving something in a public space, I don’t tend to give it energy because I think you’re not doing it out of best interest,” Gerard explained.
“And I don’t want to feed the comment threads because if I jump in then it is just going to create more commentary around it.”
How To Manage Anxiety During High-Stress Times
Battling a mental health issue, cancer, or learning to move forward after treatment can be an extremely stressful time for so many people. How can you manage your anxiety while dealing with so many other things?
Dr. Marianna Strongin, a clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy, has been helping the SurvivorNet community by sharing coping mechanisms and a structured way to think about handling these issues.
“The way that I define anxiety is that it’s an internal question that we simply can’t find the answers to,” Dr. Strongin previously toldSurvivorNet.
Dr. Strongin says that one of the main causes of anxiety is uncertainty about life, and a cancer battle can fuel anxiety for individuals because of the lack of uncertainty about the future.
Many people will turn to media platforms for answers, but Dr. Strongin says that individuals often end up with more questions as a result which leads to more anxiety.
The first step for coping during stressful circumstances is understanding one’s anxiety. To do this, Dr. Strongin suggests checking in with oneself everyday to see where the anxiety is manifesting and what questions are causing the anxiety. From there, it’s important to answer those questions and reassure oneself with positivity.
WATCH: A Guided Meditation for the SurvivorNet Community
“The answers are our coping skills,” Dr. Strongin says. “Some people are really good at always giving themselves answers…other people don’t have the coping skills to answer their anxiety and as a result the anxiety increases. … We are all facing the same questions.”
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She continues, “Some are facing them much more than others and some are better at answering those questions than others.
“What’s really important is to pay attention to is what those questions are, what the frequency of those questions are, and how you’re answering them.”
Anxiety In The United States
According to the Anxiety Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting nearly 40 million adults 18 years and older. Anxiety can be developed through factors including genetics, personality, brain chemistry, and life circumstances. Despite being highly treatable, only 43.2% of people receive treatment for anxiety disorders.
Anxiety symptoms include feelings of irritability, fatigue, and nervousness. People struggling with anxiety also have trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and rapid heart rate which leads to hyperventilation.
Therapy and medication are the two most recommended forms of treatment for individuals with anxiety, and treatments vary depending on the type of anxiety an individual has.
Mental Health: The Basics
The term mental health refers to both our emotional and psychological well-being. Our mental health can affect how we think, feel, and behave. Certain triggers like stress, traumatic events, or change in your physical health can affect mental health. It’s really important to keep tabs on your mental health and, if necessary, seek treatment. This doesn’t necessarily mean traditional therapy because while it may be really helpful (even life-changing) for some, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.
Problems with mood and overall mental well-being can be attributed to several factors. For some people it’s genetic, while others may be experiencing a response to some sort of stressor or past trauma.
In order to keep your mental health in check, it’s important to be aware of signs which can be subtle that there is something affecting your mind. These signs include:
- A change in eating or sleeping habits
- Losing interest in people or usual activities
- Experiencing little or no energy
- Numb and/or hopeless feelings
- Turning to drinking or drugs more than usual
- Non-typical angry, upset, or on-edge feelings
- Yelling/fighting with loved ones
- Experiencing mood swings
- Intrusive thoughts
- Trouble getting through daily tasks
These symptoms can be wide-ranging and vary a great deal from person to person. Everyone experiences grief differently, for example.
However, if you are feeling unusually sad, on-edge, or like you’re no longer interested in activities you used to love, know that there are many treatment options available and many different healthy ways to help you cope.
Understanding Treatment Options
Treatment options for people struggling with mental health really run the gamut. While some people may benefit from seeking the help of a psychologist and getting on medication, others see great improvement by simply implementing some lifestyle changes, such as prioritizing exercise and cutting back on alcohol.
Those struggling should know that they are not alone about one in five American adults has experienced some sort of mental health issue, according to mentalhealth.gov.
However, what worked to help someone else cope may not necessarily help you as treatment must be individualized.
To maintain a positive mindset and address mental health struggles you may be having, treatment may include:
- Seeking professional help from a psychiatrist or therapist
- Learning healthy coping skills
- Medication such as antidepressants
- Adding more physical activity to your routine
- Adjusting your sleep schedule
- Connecting with others via support groups
- Mindfulness and meditation
Diagnosing Mental Health Issues
If you have been dealing with anxious or hopeless feelings, you may be wondering if it’s time to talk to a professional about your mental health. There are a plethora of treatment options available to help get mental health in check, but it’s important to realize what you’re up against first.
People dealing with the trauma of an illness such as cancer, for example, may benefit from several different types of therapy including counseling or even something like psychotherapy.
Dr. Daynelle Dedmond, a gynecologic oncologist at Centura Health in Colorado Springs, told SurvivorNet in a previous conversation about mental health that her patients very frequently need some sort of help while going through the treatment process.
“A psychotherapist is a … professional that is trained in techniques to help patients through trauma, and [it’s] different than counseling,” Dr. Dedmond said.
“Sometimes counseling is more of a conversation, whereas a psychotherapist uses techniques that have been proven to help patients through trauma in a very successful fashion.”
Dr. Daynelle Dedmond, a Gynecologic Oncologist at Centura Health in Colorado Springs, On Mental Health Treatment
She continued, “The prescription of medicine depends on [the doctor’s] level of training and licensure. Counselors don’t necessarily and usually don’t prescribe any types of medication.
“Psychotherapists use special techniques, psychotherapy techniques, and medication is not always a part of that. Medical doctors are also trained specifically in the use of medications, and those medications may be antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medication to help relax a patient, or they may be medications to help patients sleep.”
Dr. Dedmond noted that patients may see a counselor as well as a medical doctor for medication.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you find yourself struggling with a mental health issue, or a diagnosis, or even helping a loved one cope with their emotions, consider asking your doctor the following questions:
- How can I go about improving my outlook/mental health?
- Are there any activities I can do to encourage positive feelings?
- When should I seek other interventions if I’m still struggling?
- What are the steps to finding a different therapist if the one I’m using is not working out?
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff