"We have the power to change our thoughts and feelings". Read Suman's story...

Hi! I'm Suman, a 32 year old hairdresser from Canada, currently living in Sydney Australia.

I love my job, travelling, eating, cooking, and spending time with my loved ones. I'm not crazy about swimming in the ocean but my partner has encouraged me to go for a dip as often as I can for my mental health and it is becoming apart of my everyday life, as long as its +20 degrees out!

I have suffered with anxiety since I was a little girl, around 5 years old which is crazy to think. Back then there wasn't much talk about mental health so I was never actually diagnosed. After some traumatic experiences as a child I began to behave differently; my mother had left my father, as they had quite a toxic relationship and all of a sudden life was changing quicker than I could keep up with.

My parents were immigrants and my mother did not have the luxury of family support so we were constantly moving around and doing what we had to do to get by. She worked hard to support my sister and I, so we didn't get to spend  much time together.

I started to experience major stomach pains, doctors could not figure out what was causing it and I would have severe panic attacks whenever my mother would have to leave me for long periods of time. I would feel short of breath and freak the f out. That's when I learnt how important it was to just breath, I realised at a very young age that we have the power to change our thoughts and feelings with our minds, my anxiety became easier to deal with after that.

Fast forward to my early adult years I bought a home with my sister, began my hairdressing career and was in a long term relationship. After 6 years my ex partner and I broke up. That was when the intense anxiety returned. I always felt the anxiety of social gatherings and in my job as a hairdresser (constantly second guessing myself). However it only seemed to really effect me when a significant change in my life would happen. Even at the age of 26 I did not understand what I was feeling, I still had no idea that I had anxiety.

Years later I decided to travel to Australia on a one year visa, I thought that it was best for me to feel solitary and remove myself from all the crutches I would use to distract myself from my anxiety. I pushed out of my comfort zone and worked on my confidence and career. I have always been painfully shy, I hated social settings and attention on myself.

Today I am so proud of how far I've come. I own my own hairdressing business which pushes me to face many fears I have and to really put myself out there. Some things that have helped me overcome my anxiety is first off acknowledging that I have anxiety but not allowing myself to use it as any type of excuse. It took a lot of self reflecting for me to realize what I often felt was anxiety, talking to my sister also helped me come to this realization. Practicing mindfulness, letting go of things that are out of my control and focusing on the present moment help as well. Making goals for myself, that at times can feel quite scary, has helped me realise how much I can actually achieve and how strong I truly am, anxiety and all.

Some days are super easy and others are hard, I try to be gentle with myself and sharing my story with the people in my life definitely lifts the weight off my shoulders.

Just remember you are stronger than your anxiety. XO

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