Mental Health Monday: Instinct or Anxiety?

Oh the life of an anxious person. We are constantly told to rely on our instincts, that our gut feelings are rarely wrong, but is this true when you’re battling anxiety?

I’ve been battling generalised anxiety disorder (with a hint of panic) since at least 2012 and this means I have the tendency to overthink to the point of avoiding certain things.

Fight or Flight

I don’t think our instincts are limited to fight or flight because another response and reaction is freeze. I have the tendency to freeze, if confronted my heart pounds & I am the epitome of ‘ deer in the headlights’.

You might be wondering what the relevance of the fight, flight or freeze response has to this post but I think maybe everything. My natural reaction to confrontation is freeze, in the early human days, would this have saved my life (probably not) or would I have been in more danger? Who knows.

In January I travelled to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) and knew that at some point we would want to complete our 88 days regional work/fruit picking that would make us eligible for our 2nd year visa. The thought of farm work does worry me. I have never done manual labour, I don’t cope well in the heat & it is something completely new to me. It is normal to be nervous, even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder.
(I promise you that this is relevant to the post title.)

It took almost a week before the offers started coming through. We accepted the 2nd out of the 3 we received. The next morning I started to overthink. This is one of the aspects of anxiety that I really don’t have control of. I find it difficult not to overthink BUT was it my anxiety, or was it my instincts telling me that something wasn’t quite right.

I began to google the town and found a few articles about underpaid, exploited Backpackers and corrupt farmers. Anxiety or instinct? Are we going to a corrupt farm? Is it a legitimate job? What if we aren’t paid? What if the living conditions are dreadful? What if we get our money stolen? What if we are separated? What if I don’t feel safe? What if we are attacked? What if we are killed? This might seem like I’m over-reacting but these are all questions I had immediately, some perhaps more likely than others.

Were my questions and the urge for flight of the situation (avoidance) just my anxiety talking, or was it my instincts telling me to find a different job. How are we (anxious people) supposed to figure out which responses are due to anxiety and which are due to human instinct?

I found a link to a Facebook post on an Aussie Farm Review page that discussed the town we had accepted work in and how they had been scammed by people called Mayla & Ken who also used other names including (but probably not limited to) Grace & Jayce. Was she the person who has been emailing us? Are we about to enter a scam? They had posted an email copy in the comments of what they had been told and while not identical to ours, it wasn’t too dissimilar. Alarm bells were ringing. It was Monday morning, we were due to leave on the Greyhound bus on Saturday, should we still go? Is it just my anxiety talking or is it gut instinct?

In the end, we decided not to chance it & we rang a farm that was recommended to us by our friends, they had loved their time there so when he said work might be a couple of weeks but we were welcome to stay in his accommodation (a private room for almost $200 cheaper a week between us than a dorm in a hostel in Brisbane) we jumped at the chance.

I don’t know if it was anxiety, instinct or dumb luck that made me question the original acceptance but it ended up for the best, I think. That’s not always the case. Sometimes I end up overthinking myself out of doing things that I would have really enjoyed. I don’t know the answer to my own question, but here’s to figuring it out.

This post was written as part of Mental Health Monday, a blog meme where people are encouraged to share their stories & I choose a few to feature on my blog. You can read other Mental Health Monday posts here.


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Post Author: bexcapades

I am a 22 year old teacher from the UK who is currently travelling around Australia on a Working Holiday Visa year.

11 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday: Instinct or Anxiety?

    […] Related: Instinct or Anxiety? Farm Worries Part 2 […]


    (April 2, 2018 - 5:59 am)

    I think we tend to over think way to much.
    There is nothing wrong with doing our research and asking the appropriate questions.
    But sometimes we miss out on opportunities.
    Our anxiety filled minds go into overtime and logic goes out the window.
    Can we rationalise it?
    I suppose we can only keep working on it


      (April 2, 2018 - 6:27 am)

      Yes, I completely agree. I definitely overthink too much, trying not to let it stop me from joining in! It’s a work in progress

    King Braswell

    (April 4, 2018 - 8:16 pm)

    I have battled with with the “what ifs” for years, and i have learned to control them. First of all, we cant be fearful of anything. Anything can happen at anytime, so there is no sense in worrying. Second of all, we have to use our common sense when making decisions! I would not go anywhere to meet anyone that I dont know if I dont feel right. Your gut is going to line up with your brain. If something doesnt sound right, your gut is going to start to talking. Pay no attention to your anxiety, because thats just what it is, anxiety. Now when we make our decisions to do something, we have to be smart as we can about it. If I met someone online and wanted to meet them face to face, I would meet them in the public around alot of people. I would also take someone with me. Now, I could say “what if they are serial killers”, but that’s why I am meeting them in public with someone else. You made the right decision, but never make them based on feelings, make them on good common sense.


      (April 4, 2018 - 9:56 pm)

      There’s no sense in worrying but that’s easier said than done. It’s hard not to pay attention to the anxiety when you can’t breathe or sleep. The point of my post was to highlight that sometimes I don’t know the difference between what my instincts are & what my anxiety is.

    Rebecca Jayne

    (April 4, 2018 - 9:53 pm)

    I love this post. I’ve always had a gut instinct about stuff and sometimes I worry it’s just my anxiety putting me off but it’s surprising how often my gut is right! X


      (April 4, 2018 - 9:57 pm)

      Me too! Though I know that sometimes my anxiety talks me out of things that I would probably have enjoyed, I feel like it was right on this occasion! X


    (April 5, 2018 - 7:27 am)

    Wow, this post was enlightening. I never knew that was really how it is when having anxiety. I can see your frustration. Then again, I feel like sometimes we as human being naturally overthink stuff on a regular. I literally would have asked all those questions myself just out of the fear of being scammed! I love that you guys didn’t chance it and it all worked out! Everything happens for a reason !


      (April 5, 2018 - 8:46 am)

      Thank you! Basically the anxiety just heightens the overthinking so it can become overwhelming! Luckily it was the right thing this time & we escaped a potential loss of money so everything really does happen for a reason 🙂


    (August 7, 2018 - 7:15 pm)

    You did the right thing ….. you were worried, you didn’t just abandon your plans, you used that worry in a positive way and chose to research the situation. Your research proved you right, if you didn’t find anything negative in your research you probably would have went and that would have been right too. It is ok, you don’t have to ignore your anxiety you can use it as a tool … just remember if you then can’t find a reason not to do it – do it – and then you are in control, well done on a great post 😀


      (August 16, 2018 - 6:28 am)

      Time will tell as to whether I’m making good judgements but until then, I just gotta keep living in the best way I know how 🙂

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