How You Can Help Yourself, And How You Can Help Others

You know how life is just going along with good things and annoying things but overall things are fine but still, you wish you could have some time where nothing bad happens and you kind of whine and complain about stuff and wish that life would just slow the f*ck down so you could relax for five minutes?

And then something really bad happens.

Really bad.

And it knocks you.

It takes the wind out of your sails.

It makes you long for the other days when mildly annoying things were what you complained about.

That’s where I am right now.


On Saturday I was complaining to my best friend about how life is hard right now.

I have to get a new roof, I’m selling the family cottage and it’s taking a while, my business is going through some changes, my cat is getting old, my back hurts, blah blah blah.

And then.

On Sunday I got word that someone I love was diagnosed with cancer and has a very poor prognosis.

I’m now acting a patient advocate — to help with planning, appointments, tests, and treatment logistics. I’m great in a crisis, I’m really process oriented, and I’m glad to do it.

Now Layer Anxiety On Top Of That

I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have done for about 7 years.

Anxiety is a form of mental illness, and it has varied issues and symptoms for different people.

It sucks.


If you have never experienced anxiety or don’t know anyone who has it, let me try to explain what it’s like, at least for me.

I once read that anxiety is the out-of-control feeling you get when you tip back in your chair and you’re just about to fall backwards.

That feeling where you’re almost falling but you don’t quite fall.

But unlike when you catch yourself and right the chair before it tips, the feeling doesn’t go away.

For me, it’s also like a veil over my head that restricts the clarity of what’s going on around me, how I’m reacting, and how I’m feeling.

It hangs over my head like a feeling of impending doom, no matter how much I know that there is no doom impending at all.

It magnifies insecurities, fears, and worries and takes over your life.

There is no logic to anxiety.

It can last for hours or days for some people or less than a minute for others.

Are There Triggers?

Sure. For some people.

For me, a grey low sky and humid weather is almost sure to set me off. Or an abundance of change (even though I like change). Or extreme sadness.

This summer I am dealing with changes in my business, changes in my personal life, and changes in my health.

Some of these changes are good, some are merely annoying, and some are just things that happen that are a nuisance more than anything else.

They’re just life, really.

They were the things I was complaining about last Saturday when it was a really grey humid day.

Then I got the phone call on Sunday afternoon, and now the chair is tipping really far back.

What I’m Doing About It

At the moment I’m a five-hour drive away from my home, and am still in the middle of the crisis, organizing things and people and dates and appointments.

The family finds comfort in my clinical perspective, and I’m able to inject silly humour from time to time (like watching Mama Mia together and reenacting the Dancing Queen scene).

I’m allowing myself tears in my private moments, and I’m eating properly, drinking my calming teas, taking supportive supplements, and getting outside to breathe deeply.

I’m also planning my exit strategy so I can go back to my own life, which I’m pretty sure will seem a lot less annoying. This is hard to do, as they have relied on my objectivity to calm them, but it’s important that I do it for my own health.

So in a nutshell, I’m:

  • Being careful not to take myself too seriously, and looking for the moments to laugh. Because even in dire circumstances, those moments do exist.
  • Crying when I need to and talking to my BFF so I don’t bottle up my own emotions.
  • Eating well, and not resorting to crap that seems soothing but will actually make me feel disgusting.
  • Taking healthy supplements and teas recommended by my Naturopath (I drink Holy Basil tea, and use the homeopathic remedy called Ignatia Amara.)
  • Getting fresh air, walking, and breathing deeply while reciting my own mantra for these situations: “I’m fine. This is an awful situation, but I’m fine.”
  • Planning my return to my own life.

What Can You Do If You Are In A Similar Situation?

Pretty much the same as me, although I strongly recommend you contact your own health care practitioner to determine which supplements are right for you.

Eat well.

Get Exercise.

Don’t Bottle Things Up.

Find Something Silly Or Humourous Somewhere.

Get Back To Your Own Life

Talk To A Professional (Naturopath, Therapist, Counsellor, Religious Advisor, Doctor, etc.)

How Can You Help Someone With Anxiety Who’s Going Through A Hard Time?

Don’t mock their anxiety or make it a thing you try to make light of or tease about.

Anxiety isn’t funny.

Be there for that person in the way they need you to be.

If they ask for space, give them space (and still check in regularly with a quick text or phone call).

If they ask for support, ask them what that looks like to them.

Just ask.

If it seems simple, it’s because it is.

It doesn’t mean everything is going to be all roses and bluebirds right away, but it means that you will help yourself, or someone else, negotiate life’s tough times while looking after your/their own self at the same time.

Because that’s as important as anything.

Ruth Henderson is co-owner of Whiteboard Consulting, and focuses on ways to make things better through a wide spectrum of business activities including sales, marketing, customer service, and financial operations, although her specialties are Coaching, Training, and Business Process Improvement. She’s a podcaster, blogger, process nerd, and loves to call Toronto her home.Find out more about her atwhiteboardconsulting.ca.
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Ruth Henderson is co-owner of Whiteboard Consulting, and focuses on ways to make things better through a wide spectrum of business activities including sales, marketing, customer service, and financial operations, although her specialties are Coaching, Training, and Business Process Improvement. She’s a podcaster, blogger, process nerd, and loves to call Toronto her home.Find out more about her atwhiteboardconsulting.ca.

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