How Anxiety Lead To My Purpose
a, n, x, i, e, t, y – seven little letters that when placed together, form a word,
and more importantly, a state of mind, that can change your life forever.
But not necessarily in a negative way…
In the beginning
I was always an anxious child; I hated change, I loved routines, I would worry incessantly and I was a perfectionist (to this day, I still relate to these things!). As a child, I was known as a ‘worry wart’; I would worry or stress about things that kids didn’t need to. In particular, I worried about change. I hated change in routines. I hated trying new things. I was a creature of habit. I still am!
As the years progressed, so did my worries and anxiety. My anxiety manifested in a variety of ways – migraines, obsessive compulsive behaviours, strict routines and high stress levels. I continued to go about my daily life thinking I was just a ‘worry wart’ or a highly anxious person. I just thought this was my personality and that this is how I managed the world around me. But it wasn’t until my anxieties BECAME my life, as opposed to PART of my life, that things changed forever. And they changed forever in 2009 – the sixth, and final, year of my teaching career. While I was attending a school assembly with my class, I suffered the first of many panic attacks. The newest manifestation of my anxiety.
When one door closes
In early 2010, after suffering severe anxiety and multiple panic attacks for many months, I resigned as a primary school teacher. Although my decision to resign was made with a heavy heart, it was a decision I needed to make, and one that lead me to where I am now. The year of my resignation saw me almost housebound. I had hit rock bottom – I no longer had purpose. I could feel the heavy, dark cloud of depression floating above me and resting on my shoulders. My family history is rife with anxiety and depression, so I was completely aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and I knew I did NOT want to go down that road. I needed to feel ‘myself’ again; I needed purpose.
Another door opens
I was, and still am, a creative person. I knew that being creative would help fill my time, and my mind, in a productive and positive way. I decided to work from home and opened up my own online business creating personalised artwork for children. For five years, I designed, created, networked and grew my little business. During those five years, I chatted with so many parents of young children, and it was two particular conversations with parents that changed everything for me. These parents had primary school aged children who were anxious – not just every day worries, but anxieties that consumed the minds of these little people on a daily basis. Knowing, from personal experience, how much these children were suffering, I wanted to do something to help them. I closed my online business and decided to dedicate my time to helping children manage their anxieties.
Combining my personal challenges with anxiety, my experience as a teacher, my love of design, and my obsession with all things sausage dogs, I designed the little wuppy®. The little wuppy® is a sausage dog worry puppy designed as an aid to help ease children’s worries, and to help comfort them. The special feature of the little wuppy® is its embroidered red heart. Children are encouraged to send their worries to the little wuppy® by placing its heart against their own. The little wuppy® is backed with soft minky fabric. This smooth textured fabric is great for children who use tactile surfaces to calm themselves. The little wuppy® can also be used as a focus tool when children are trying to concentrate at kinder/school. This is especially helpful for children with ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder) or sensory processing issues. The little wuppy® is small enough for a child to hold in their hands, pop into their bags or pocket, or place under their pillow, but is big enough to make a difference. Children may find the little wuppy® useful if they are feeling scared, worried or unsure about change, e.g. the start of a school year, moving to a new home, welcoming a new sibling into the family, or illness or death of a loved one/pet. The little wuppy® can also be used for hospital visits, before exams/concerts/sporting events, to help children relax at night time, if bad dreams occur, or if children just need a little extra comfort. The little wuppy® is designed to help ease children’s worries, but there are no limits to how or why it is used.
Although anxiety is (and always will be) a part of my life, without it, I would not be where I am today.
I am extremely passionate about the need to talk openly and honestly about anxiety, and want to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially in regards to children.
Experiencing anxiety has helped me help others, and helping others is one of the most fulfilling and joyous things in life! It is my purpose.
The thoughts and feelings associated with anxiety can be quite overwhelming, especially for children. There are a number of amazing resources available for children, and their families, to help manage huge emotions. You will find some of these on the little wuppy® website under the ‘links’ tab here.
Linda (pictured above) is the owner + designer of little wuppy®.
She lives west of Melbourne with her husband and two dogs, and was a former primary school teacher before severe anxiety and panic attacks forced her to resign.
She is an artist who is obsessed with sausage dogs. And she is passionate about helping children manage their own anxieties.
Linda is working hard at trying to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially regarding children.
It as been such a pleasure working with Linda and seeing her passion for helping children with anxiety. Her openness and honesty about her experience with severe anxiety is inspirational. I love that she has turned a negative into a positive and is finding such fulfillment in her new purpose. You only need to read the reviews on Linda’s website to see the difference she (and little wuppy®) are making to kids and their families. Thank you, Linda, for sharing your story.