Try our free, self-paced course to get tools to support your mental wellbeing. Tap here to sign up.

What's it like experiencing a anxiety disorder?
Resources: Video, Personal Stories
Tia has been experiencing an anxiety disorder for two years.

But after seeking help, is now able to manage her anxiety and live a full and happy life. She loves photography, is an Anxiety New Zealand Helpline volunteer and studies psychology. This video was made possible by the generous support of Milestone Foundation and creative inspiration from Eden Arts Club. Chinese subtitles are available. 中文字幕可用.

Made possible by the generous support of Milestone Foundation, this four-part series showcases the journeys of people who have lived experience of anxiety, family and friends as supporters, education about anxiety and ideas on how to increase resilience and wellbeing. 

Video transcript:

"It's pretty normal for you to have a little anxiety. But if it becomes a disorder, that would be something you should pay attention to. 

I like taking photos. It's just me trying to explore my inner world. With a camera, you can see there's so many things you didn't pay attention to before. It helps my anxiety. It just makes me really happy and focussed. 

The first day at Uni triggered my anxiety. I went into this giant lecture theatre, there were so many people sitting there and I didn't know any of them. 

My hands start to get sweaty and then my heartbeat was racing. My body was shaking and I couldn't stop it. The symptoms of anxiety make me feel really overwhelmed. It’s a panic feeling. I couldn't talk to anyone of the people in my lecture room. And I couldn't focus. 

The first few weeks of my Uni, I barely went to any lecture rooms. I was too scared. I didn't take any notes in my first few weeks. My anxiety definitely put a lot of pressure on my study and things were just getting worse. So I thought, ‘okay, I think it's time for me to seek help.’

I went to see the counsellor. I explained what happened and why I felt this way. 

I think people definitely under-rate how much damage anxiety can cause. 

My name's Tia, I've been experiencing anxiety for two years. It's a little bit harder for people with Chinese background to say out loud what they are experiencing. We feel ashamed or embarrassed. People may misunderstand you, saying 'oh you're just being too sensitive, it's not a big deal'. Or that it means you're a psycho. 

The family name or family reputation is hugely important for Chinese families. We don't want the neighbours or the friends around us to know. I would be really happy to see Chinese talk more and to share. We need someone to support us. 

Anxiety disorders are much more common than we expect, and there's nothing to be ashamed about or embarrassed about. 

I like taking photographs in the park. It's a great place to explore. There are so many flowers and different various kinds of plants and trees. 

It's so amazing to see the roots of a tree, and the texture. 

I like to get up early to take photos. The light is just perfect. It's so quiet. You won't feel like you're in a park. 

Now, I just feel really confident that I can actually do great things. There's so many shots, like a really close up shot of flower.  And then next moment exploring the wider Auckland view. 

Now, I'm much more confident and I feel more secure. I can focus on the things I want to. 

You can have a healthy, confident, and great happy life while you're still experiencing feelings of anxiety."