Health, Beauty + Style

Anxiety – you are a nasty mole!

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
November 12th, 2016

Anxiety is a nasty bitch and sometimes, you can carry it so long before you realise it really has a hold on you.

It could have been the time that I made myself drive down to my daughter’s school and watch her in the playground on a windy day because I thought a tree might fall on her and kill her.

It could have been the time I lost my shit in an underground carpark because I was convinced it was about to collapse. Or the time I had a fight with my husband in a food court because he LET GO of the pram strap while I went to get something to eat…..because what if someone grabbed that pram and did a runner with our baby?

But in hindsight, I think it was when I realised that my every waking minute was consumed by thinking that the worst possible scenario was the ONLY scenario I allowed myself to think about.

When you live this way, it’s easy to strip your life of enjoyment. It’s easy to not want to leave the house for fear something ‘bad’ is going to happen, and it’s also very easy to slip down into depression because of it. The kind of depression that makes you politely decline invitations that you WANT to accept, or the kind of depression that makes waking up in the morning feel like the world’s biggest chore. The kind of depression that makes every single task in life feel like too much.

Looking back, I think anxiety and depression were always in my life, I was just able to mask it better when I was younger. There were less responsibilities and more freedom, so even though I would go through a bit of a slump a few times a year as a teenager, it was easy to disguise. My default setting in situations that made me nervous was to overcompensate with behaviour that, a friend once labelled “excitable” or just plain over-eager.  My lack of self-confidence made me feel like I had to work that much harder, so I appeared to others as having TOO much confidence, especially in high school.

Simple conversations, or emails, or text messages get over-analysed and I find myself having arguments with people in my head on the ASSUMPTION that they’re going to call me out on something. Or judge me. Or ridicule me. Or worse…just not like me.

The minute I became a parent brought up an entirely new set of fears, which culminated in my preoccupation that something bad was going to happen to my kids.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken in the night having had the most horrendous nightmares of my kids being caught in a fire. Trapped in a car accident. Abducted. Or just dying in their sleep. When my worst nightmares felt like they were becoming very real and very constant realities, I found that whatever natural instincts I had disappeared.


I can’t “trust my gut” anymore, because my gut is always telling me that something is wrong, which leads to so much brain confusion it’s exhausting. Trying to decipher whether I feel something might REALLY be wrong is impossible, because I ALWAYS feel like something is wrong.

Moreover, anxiety and depression has made me feel so much guilt as a parent it’s hard to articulate. I have a daughter and son who are both highly anxious, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it is because I am their mother. What I thought was just being a protective parent has done my babies such a disservice that I find it difficult to come to terms with the shame of it all. My worst fear is that they turn out like me, because some days, it really does feel like torture. I want them to have a gut they can trust, so with the help of a psychologist, we’re working on it. Together.

For me, medication has helped alleviate some of the symptoms and makes me feel a little more ‘even.’ The fears still pop up in my mind, but they are more likely to come and go and not stay right in my line of vision until I do something to make them go away….like driving down to the school to check that a tree has not squashed my girl.

I’m lucky to have a supportive and incredible husband, and family, and friends (including my S+T family), who helped make that first step towards getting help much easier – but I’m aware that not everyone has that luxury. To them, I say that WE are here for you. We are supporting you and we are wanting you to get better.

I don’t think medication is the answer for everyone, but I do think that if you’re feeling like something isn’t right or that life feels harder than you know it should be, it’s SO important to talk to someone. Opening up conversations like this is often the first step to a brighter and happier future ahead….and there is one. Some of us just need to work a little harder to find it.

If you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14

Here is Constance Hall On The Couch chatting about anxiety.

No time to watch vids?? Have a listen to the beautiful Sarah Harris talking about her personal battles with stress and anxiety below. You can subscribe to our podcast here.


  • Rosina

    Anxiety, such an underestimated and debilitating disorder because it’s so commonly diagnosed. Some anxiety is ok, protective even, however as you have articulated so well, it can cause serious damage to self & loved ones. It takes a strong person to admit the impact mental illness can have & an even stronger person to delve into their history & identify triggers. As always, I’m proud of you; especially your willingness to expose yourself for the benefit of others xx

  • kathquest

    Such a beautifully, honest and raw article mel! Thank you for sharing. You are not alone.

  • Melissa

    Thanks so much Kath, that means a lot. Hope YOU are doing well!! Mel xxx

  • Melissa

    We all need beautiful and supportive people like you in our lives. Where the hell would I be without you? xxxx

  • Naomi

    I’m currently in the process of determining that my vague gastrointestinal issues are due entirely to somatizing anxiety. I know I have anxiety related to illness in myself and my kids but never thought it consumed me with such intensity as to control my every waking moment. Quite frankly I’m terrified of what treating it may bring.

  • Melissa

    Hey Naomi…the only way is up, right? The first step is always the hardest, but I promise you it gets easier from there. Take care of yourself and I wish you the best of luck. Thanks so much for sharing, it means a lot to us all. Mel xxx

  • Anna

    A brave but lovely piece. Thank you for writing it and thanks for sharing.

  • Di

    As a single working mum with my daughter at uni and my teenage son at home, I suddenly became affected with crippling anxiety when arriving home from work in the early evening. I found that I was unable to drive into my garage as I ‘knew’ deep inside that I would find my son having hung himself in there. This happened week after week, despite my son having shown no signs of any suicidal behaviour at all. In the end, the only thing that I could do was call my son and speak to him on some pretext so as to convince myself that he was in fact inside the house and perfectly fine.

  • William Wheeler

    Thanks for sharing your life with us. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression my entire life. I started treatment for my ailments 12 years ago. Things are much better now than then but I don’t know what it is like to be “normal”.