Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia and, frighteningly, the leading cause of ill health in girls and women aged between five and 44. Yet there is still stigma surrounding the condition. To mark Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month, we spoke to Jesinta Franklin about her experiences with anxiety and how she has learnt to cope.
JESINTA FRANKLIN, 27, model and T V host
“I first experienced anxiety when I won Miss Universe Australia [in 2010] and it was just so overwhelming. There were days where it was really hard for me to even go outside because I felt like everyone was looking at me. A few years ago, I was lying in bed and I felt like I couldn’t breathe and that my chest was caving in. I went to the doctors because I thought I had a heart problem and it was actually anxiety. My anxiety is a physical thing: my heart rate goes through the roof and my hands get clammy.
“My husband [Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin] can sense when I’m anxious and helps me through it. He has been through his own battles with mental health, and I think it’s nice that we can talk about it together.
“When I first experienced anxiety, I went to a counsellor, and now I have a great doctor I can talk to. Having a healthcare professional to open up to, as well as friends and family, is really important. In Australia, you can get your first 10 or [so] visits to a counsellor subsidised [with a mental health care plan from your GP]. Taking a bath is also something that helps me to switch off. I put some nice music on, light a candle and take a moment for myself. After that, I always feel like my life is in order.
“If you internalise anxiety, it can be destructive. To anyone going through this, I want you to know you’re not alone, there’s nothing to be ashamed about and there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
This story originally appeared in the November issue of marie claire.