How I use my anxiety to my advantage.
If you deal with anxiety you know what I mean when I say you are your own worst critic. You analyze and over analyze everything that you do. You go over every conversation, every gesture, every text message, and make sure you said what you meant.
On one hand, you do this to make sure the other person feels good about the correspondence you shared, and on the other, you do it to make sure you don't look or sound like an idiot.
If you would like to skip to the actual purpose of this post, skip this bit here, or else it gets a little sappy.
I officially faced my anxiety when I was around 18. I had trouble fitting into any one group all though school, I would have sporadic periods of with-drawl, and frustration. I self medicated myself with binge drinking and smoking cigarettes. I didn't know why, but they helped me feel better. I started smoking when I was 15 and didn't really quit until I was 19. This sounds crazy, like I was some troubled youth, but I was seeking something. Same with drinking. Through high-school, I would look forward to the weekends, any night I could get away with getting a buzz on. I considered myself a social drinker until I would start going over to our local family farm and walk by myself down to the creek just to drink a few by myself. It took the edge off and that is what I was seeking. I was too young, and not quite strong enough on my own to dig down and figure out what the source of the pain was.
Along came Arron, my now husband of going on three years. This amazing man grounded me and gave me the strength I never had on my own to face the issue that I had not been able to recognize. Although I had been diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) when I was around 16, I basically ignored the diagnosis when my "homework" was to go find five new friends at high school.
Once I met Arron, I stopped smoking and binge drinking all-together. He helped me recognize when my actions were being led by my anxiety. I started to get to know my anxiety and at least owned it. I kind of lived with it for years after that, just chalking up things to "bad anxiety days" until something very real, happened.
I lost my mom. To suicide. See, mental health disorders run in my family. My mom, and her father both suffered with depression. My mom's was severe, and one day I may write about how severe her depression was, but for now I'll stick with my anxiety. I was six months pregnant with my second. I was already (self medicating) drinking chamomile tea to help with my "bad anxiety days". Until I lost my mom. I decided mental health was nothing I could ignore anymore, I was put on an anti-depressant.
The medication they prescribed me with was Zoloft, like I said, and antidepressant. I was confused and made very sure to tell them, I am NOT depressed, I just have "bad days". They assured me it was more of a mood regulator and not JUST for depression. I agreed, and was pretty successfully on the medication for a few years. I was glad to be doing my part to take my mental health seriously. I knew I couldn't just power through it like I had been through that difficult time.
Even with the mediation, I was still having bad days here and there. I still lived with the anxiety, I just didn't notice it as much. An example I have used is skipping going by the bank to drop off a deposit because I didn't have a deposit slip and I didn't want the bank teller to think I was irresponsible for not carrying them with me, as a responsible business owner should. Just an example of how my brain works. Even with the medication, I was having anxiety attacks. Literally my least favorite thing in the world. My body goes numb, my breathing slows, I can feel every heart beat, my vision and hearing get fuzzy, and I just have to sit there silent or barely mumbling a few words until it's over. I have now learned ways to "ground" myself during these episodes, so I don't know if they aren't happening anymore, or if I have just taught myself how to recognize when one is coming on and I can prevent it.
Currently, I am off of the Zoloft, and loving that I am having "great days" that my medication didn't necessarily allow me. I am very conscious about when my anxiety is spiking and recognizing what is triggering it. If I can help it, I do, If I can not, I distance myself. I use my compartmentalizing techniques to my advantage, and work on dealing with those issues at my own pace.
In short, discovering and exploring my anxiety has helped me become a better business owner, and here is why.
I put myself in my clients point of view
At one of my first jobs, my very wise boss taught me how to put myself in the customer's shoes from the moment they walk in the door. From then, every job I have held, I view my workplace, my mannerisms, my customer service, my resources, from my clients point of view. This is something that comes natural for people with anxiety. We are constantly worried about people's perception of us, so we do our best to make sure they are impressed. Every photo I take, I make sure to be one that I would be happy to receive it I was that client. I will get to carry this quality with me anywhere I go, and I love that my anxiety has given me that.
I am a people pleaser
This is a trait that also comes along with the anxiety. Knowing the feelings that overcome me when I know that I have not met someone's expectations drives me always meet their expectations the first time, and makes me study what I need to do to deliver what they need. A little bit of business knowledge mixed in with this trait, and I love that my anxiety has given me the motivation to please others.
I am a "yes" person
I think that this is one that can be a catch 22. It set's me apart, and shows my clients my willingness to accommodate them, but sometimes at my own expense. For example, this fall, I was as busy as I had ever been, had sessions almost every night, weddings on the weekend. I wore myself very thin, but I did what I could to meet their needs. Making people feel important is so vital in creating a brand that provides a feeling of comfort and hospitality. I would rather get a few hours less sleep by editing than making someone feel less important. And I love that MY anxiety has given me the ability to put my clients needs before my own.
I am a perfectionist
I am not being conceited when I say that I can attest most of my growth to this. I obsess over my photos. Each time I click the shutter, I strive for that photo to be better than the last. Each time I correspond with a client, I strive for that experience to make them feel more important that I have ever made a client feel. This is something that all of the traits above have given me. In some ways I use my photography to give myself a positive and productive outlet for my anxiety. I allow it to run rampant to keep myself in check. Improve my images, improve my client experience. And in THAT way, I owe so much to MY anxiety.
I have learned to own it. I have learned to accept it, and through the battles, my anxiety has molded me a force to be reckoned with.
AfterAll, Diamonds are only created under pressure.