XAHLI talks about ‘Anxiety’ – British singer-songwriter XAHLI talks about her anxiety and mental health issues. How she has tried to understand and control her condition and her familiarity with her new song “Anxiety’ resonating with her own personal thoughts and emotions.
As well as mental health issues the track ‘Anxiety’ touches on many more aspects of the human condition, such as heartbreak, empowerment, self-discovery and love.
When she was shown the raw track by her producer Adrian Gurvitz, XAHLI immediately fell in love with it and they began working on the song straight away.
The lyrics and mood of the song correlated deeply with her. She says, “It was as if the words in my head had been pulled out of me, I’ve struggled with anxiety throughout my entire life and this song mirrored my darkest thoughts but also gave me a sense of hope for the future. In a time where so many are struggling with mental health, particularly right now during a pandemic, this track allows people to understand how normal it is to feel emotions of fear, anxiety and upset. It’s a reminder to those struggling quietly, you aren’t alone.” In these troubled times, we can all relate.
Women Talking had the opportunity to talk to XAHLI to find out more about her remarkable journey.
“For most of my life, I’ve lived with an Anxiety Disorder. There have been many moments during this time that I’ve also struggled with depression, which for me has always gone hand in hand with anxiety. I wanted to share my story with you all, to remind anyone reading this that I too have been absorbed by the darkness that these illnesses push us into, but I’ve come out the other side – and you can too.”
“My journey with anxiety began when I was a young girl, I’m not sure of the exact age but upon reflection, I think it was always embedded within me from around 5 years old. Around this time, my parents had split, and my mother became my sole carer. We had and still have a beautiful relationship, but like many children who lose a parent to divorce, you become so reliant on the one parent to fill that void that was left from the absence of another. “
“I must say, I wasn’t a shy child. I was always performing and often out of my comfort zone, which might come to a surprise to some.”
“But anxiety really does display itself in so many ways, no one’s experience is the same as another’s. Like with me, for example, from a particularly young age I had an overwhelming fear of losing my mum, I’d genuinely believe that she had passed away when running 10 minutes late from work. It would often spiral me into a terrifying panic attack, which at times would result in me being sick because I literally couldn’t hold anything down. The strange thing is in those moments I would recognise that these thoughts are not ‘normal’ but I didn’t understand why those thoughts were always in my head. I had such a deep fear of being alone or abandoned.”
“There were so many unanswered questions as to why I was the way I was and there was a level of shame within me to speak openly about my struggles. Perhaps because I was a young girl that articulating these emotions would have been really difficult but also because I always felt I had to be strong and ‘grown-up’ about it. When I think back to this period of my life, I would fight so deeply with myself in a state of denial because I quite simply did not want to admit that I felt I was dysfunctional.”
“It took me a long time, over 10 years of living with it in fact, to start to tackle my anxiety. My healing process began when I accepted that anxiety was a part of me, it was never going to leave me, and I had to digest that fact in order to grow from it. Easier said than done however, it’s not been an easy ride. I started with speaking with my family, I opened up with my mum and close family which a lot of the time would result in more tears than a conversation but sometimes you just have to let it all out. Bottling up your feelings is incredibly destructive and there will be a breaking point for us all, we are only human. “
“Once I’d began to accept this, I started to research anxiety, and this was the turning point for me. I started to feel understood for the first time in my life, I’d read stories of people like my own and thought to myself ‘I am normal!’ Whilst it didn’t stop my anxiety, it certainly helped me get a grasp of what this all meant to me.”
“There’s no right or wrong way of dealing with your anxiety or depression and sometimes medication is the right route to take, however, I didn’t want to go down that route just yet. “
“I’d begun researching unconventional healing methods, the main one being meditation. Meditation and affirmations for me have really saved me from some dark times, I’d begin my mornings with writing 5 things I am grateful for and 5 things I love about myself. I know it sounds strange, but forcing your mindset into a state of gratitude can sometimes really reassure you that you do have a lot to be happy about even when it feels like you don’t. I particularly struggled when writing about what I loved about myself, I was incredibly out of my comfort zone because I’d often felt not good enough for a long period of my life. This exercise taught me how to love myself more which I still do daily, and it helps keep me on track.”
“I have seen such a massive improvement with my mental health since making these small changes to my lifestyle along with regularly working out, releasing endorphins can be a godsend when you’re in a dark place and boost morale within you. It doesn’t have to be at the gym, it can be in your bedroom following YouTube tutorials but taking a moment to yourself to focus on you is so important.”
“This year marks my first full year free of panic attacks, which is truly not something I thought would be possible. During this whirlwind of a year, there have certainly been moments where I’ve felt a panic attack is possible, but I’ve learnt a few ways which help me avoid this happening.”
“Sometimes I’d recognise a panic attack is on its way and take a moment to remove myself from whatever situation and environment I’m in, isolate myself to a room on my own and lay down with the lights dimmed. I’d count down from 10 whilst focusing on my breathing techniques, listening to the pace of my breathing and controlling it.”
“I’d urge anyone to try this. When it was suggested to me, I didn’t believe it would help. But it’s truly been life-changing and I’m proud to be able to say that I’m now a young woman I can manage my mental health issues at a level that it no longer dictates my life.”