When copywriters get scared - getting on top of the anxiety monster

Suffering from anxiety issues as I do, when things go wrong, or I perceive them to have gone wrong, I turn inwards. Anxiety can take many forms, for me it’s social, a fear of walking into a room full of people, worrying about things I’ve said, fretting over the impression I’ve made on people I don’t even know that well.

Another unfortunate symptom of my anxieties is my ability to ruminate and make things seem far worse than they really are, to catastrophize a minor setback, to visualize terrible events as a result of a minor hiccup. It has been the ruin of me many times, and while 9 times out of 10 the situation has resolved itself fairly well, the toll on my mind hasn’t always been that great.

There is only so much ruminating and catastrophizing a human brain can take, only so much bouncing back before your brain caves under the strain. The many times I’ve catastrophized only to realise everything will be okay. Deep in the recess of my mind I kind of know that it may not be anywhere near as bad as I think it’ll be, and it sometimes feels like some kind of masochistic process I have to put myself through - because it’s bad luck if don’t.

It’s almost as if I enjoy it, and I must put myself through it, because if I don’t, then I’m tempting fate, and something really bad WILL happen. Soon my brain gets stuck in a groove and I can’t undo the ruminating, and suddenly it’s in a perpetually hellish state of ‘red alert.’

With this in mind, you would think I’d be the last person that should have taken the self-employment route. After all, there are several hills to climb and many ‘hiccups’ along the way to success, surely such a person as myself should have stayed in a job where employment would offer me a safe haven from worry and stress?

But I didn’t, because you know and I know that I wouldn’t be writing this if I had. I left my job back 2011 and took the hardest road of all, towards self-employment. And yes, sometimes I’ve come close to throwing the towel in, but no different from many others who become freelancers.

But the way I see it why shouldn’t I be self-employed?

Why should I not be allowed to do what I love, why should someone with an anxiety disorder not be allowed to do what they enjoy?

I do have long periods where I don’t ruminate and catastrophize at all, as long as everything goes smoothly. Now, this past few weeks have been lovely, until this week. A client goes quiet, it’s only been a couple of days, but I’m starting to worry, I’ve invoiced him, it’s a substantial amount of money (to me anyway).

While everyone else will be moving on to other jobs and trying to make the best of a potentially bad situation, I’m ruminating about what could happen sometime in the future because of it. Days of procrastination while I worry about the unknown, when I could be getting on with it.

And the awful guilt because there’s an awful lot of people out there with worse things going on their lives than me.

But, I am getting better…

And the reason why I’m getting better is because I’m using coping strategies to deal with it. I love copywriting, I love what I do. I get to write every single day, talk to the most interesting people and work my own hours.

And it’s worth fighting for.

Basically, I’ve got a kind of mish-mash of mindfulness and manifesting meditations I do. It’s like wrapping myself in a blanket, allowing myself to feel safe, that all will be well, to feel in the moment right now and to appreciate the little things, the everyday. I meditate at least once or even twice a day, depending on how stressed I am about something.

Funny thing is I used to really scoff at people meditating, I was convinced I couldn’t lie still for that long or stop my mind from wandering. Admittedly it is hard and I don’t always get to the end of a meditation, but just the ‘trying’ is a positive step.

I’m also reaching out to my online community of freelancers, mostly taking courses, getting involved, talking to people and popping my head above the parapet and that is doing me all the good.

I don’t think my anxieties are going to magically disappear as a result of my meditating or talking it out, and that in itself is a good thing. Because accepting I have a mental health issue that isn’t going to go away for good is part of the process, part of the road to feeling better, and of finding coping strategies that work.

I know through diligent googling that there are self-employed anxiety sufferers out there who fight the good fight each and every single day, but I don’t know where you are. I think that it’s good to talk about it, it’s good to be able to say, ‘these are my issues, and this is how I deal with them’ and as a result perhaps help someone else, connect, say something that resonates and introduce new strategies that will get someone else on the road to feeling good.

If you’re a copywriter, a freelance writer or a freelance, self-employed warrior with daily anxiety battles, do come forward and introduce yourself, I’d love to hear from you.

How do you deal with your issues?

Further reading

None of these are specifically for anxiety but they’ve helped me. Some of the books I haven’t read, but they may help you get a general feel for meditation.

Books n stuff to get you started

https://www.standard.co.uk/shopping/esbest/books-dvds/non-fiction/the-best-books-on-mindfulness-and-meditation-that-will-clear-your-headspace-in-2017-a3142056.html

Kelly Howell could hypnotise and relax two rabid dogs in an alleyway. My favourite healing meditation.

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Universal-Mind-Meditation/dp/1881451569/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505998461&sr=1-1&keywords=kelly+howell

My first introduction to The Law of Attraction, Lana Schlafer. For getting to a good place.

http://www.lanashlafer.com/

ASMR

ASMR or autonomous sensory meridian response is all about pleasure, mainly the sights, sounds and sensations that bring relief from anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Your chosen sight, sound or sensation will bring pleasurable tingles to the back of the skull, head or back, in those places where a little tactile or cognitive stimuli go a long way.

There is no real science behind it, and no scientific evidence to support it, but for some crazy reason, it works for me.

Aside from brain and spine tingle, there’s talk of brain orgasms, not sure I’ve quite got there yet, but when I’m feeling stressed, it sure does make me feel better.

There are hundreds of videos on YouTube with binaural whispering, crinkling of empty packets, fingers tapping on hard surfaces and hair brushing. Oddly enough there’s also role playing (yes, I see you raise your eyebrows at that one), but I can’t say I’m particularly interested in that area of ASMR.

The whispering is done into a microphone where they can whisper into each end so you hear it in each ear, so you need headphones to get the best effect. Whispering, softly spoken words and slow talking is all in the delivery and has quite a hypnotic effect.

There is also white noise effects which can have a calming effect when feeling stressed. There’s whole set of YouTube videos and podcasts of hoovers, hairdryers to listen to - yes I know, very strange. White noise is known to send babies to sleep, so they’ve been designed to be played to them if you’re having a hard time getting them to sleep at night. 

Personally, I stick to the hoovers, vacuum cleaners and the odd bit of whispering from Corina Rachel and a little hypnotic slow talking from Dr Dimitri, but that’s it. I steer clear of everything else.

Russell Brand has had some interesting things to say about it, which made me laugh, and I do agree in part with a lot of what he says, because there are some clips on there that border on the erotic.

I wouldn’t say I’m particularly sophisticated either just because I can distinguish it from porn, or lonely or disconnected - just freakishly anxious, which is something I’ve battled with for years.

Yes, it all sounds quite mad, but if it works why not?

However, I know I'm going to get as fed up and bored with this as I do with everything else.

ASMR or ACT, CBT (acceptance and commitment therapy), mindfulness, whatever.....