Last Monday, I asked the question: what is an anxious derby player to do? Obviously I'm no professional, but I can speak from what has and hasn't worked for me.
Totally Off the Track
Deal with the anxiety itself. For some folks, a combination of therapy and medication can do the job. Others prefer to do yoga and eat right. It probably wouldn't hurt to do all four of those things. My point is that if you have anxiety, working with it is a daily process, even on the days you're not exposed to the things that trigger your anxiety. Make sure you're actively engaging with your anxiety off the track and positively reinforcing your efforts because you're doing hard work.
Regarding therapy, if cost is a concern, check to see if your student union, employer or parents have any coverage that can ease the cost. Local hospitals may even have out-patient or group therapy programs that you can participate in at no cost. Check in with your local mental health resources. In my experience, I've had a number of therapists over the last fourteen years of being in and out of counselling and it took a lot of work to find ones that worked for me at the time. Doing goal-oriented cognitive-behavioural therapy has helped me feel more able to intervene when my mood and sense of well-being start to go south. You have a lot of options, however. For Canadian examples, see the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health or the Mental Health Helpline.
Within Your League
First thing's first: be open about your anxiety with your derby family. Don't lie. Being open will take a great deal of the shame and embarrassment out of your anxiety. If that's intimidating, consider telling someone you trust in your league, so you can get their support. Once you share with them, being open with others may seem less scary. Personally, I came out with last Monday's blog post and everyone's been amazing.
Chances are, anyone you tell will do their best to be supportive. But beyond that, letting the anxiety cat out of the bag will better enable your league to help your derby experience by modifying things for your benefit; for example, if you bring it up with your skater rep, there might be an alteration in how practices are structured, if a particular aspect of practice triggers your anxiety. Or if you're feeling behind, ask a fellow skater for extra training. Derby is, at heart, about the skaters. Any league worth its salt will support you.
Even if anxiety affects your derby life, you might be fine once you have your quads on. You might not be. Be sure to be open and honest with yourself: don't try to ignore, deny, or rationalize your way out of your feelings. If you're at practice, be at practice - try your best to be present, even if it's difficult. Check in with a derby buddy and when in doubt, take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Ask why you might be reacting a certain way and what the relevant things are that you can and can't change. Above all, practice forgiveness toward yourself.
My Bottom Line
When your anxiety impacts your ability to do an activity you love, it can be unbelievably tough on you. It can be hard to remember that the effort is worth it. But you are worth it. If you are living with anxiety, you are doing something hard and you are being someone brave. You are my hero.