TBS Spoke with Bianca Dye, who is the brains (and heart) behind @anxietyfree, about mental health and the power of words. Unfiltered.
Hi, Bianca! Your Instagram pics are fabulous. If for whatever reason you could only save three, which three would you save?
This is like being asked to choose your favourite child haha! It’s hard because with a page like mine it represents mental health in general and there are so many different branches that come from the mental health tree – I have tried to choose three pictures that represent the overall message that I try to get across to the tribe of people that see my page every day as a sign of hope and hopefully some guidance. The trick with my page is I try not to take mental health too seriously. It’s already such a serious and often hardcore topic, and life is so serious and full on and intense as it is, so with my page I try and give helpful information – useful information and mainly realistic information. I don’t have a lot of time to research as much as I would like, so I mainly just share things that have been working for myself or people that I know with anxiety.
But I also like to take the Mickey out of our anxiety disorders so that we can have a laugh sometimes! It’s very important for me to keep the humour in the page as well, otherwise, it can all get very depressing!! Ahhh!
Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how your Instagram came to be?
When I first started this page it came about because I think I was frightened to share a lot of my anxiety disorder on my own personal page. Things have changed a lot, thank goodness, not just in society but within myself and my ability to feel OK about sharing openly. Honestly, I like to be vulnerable and I like to share what I’m going through but if I did that on my own personal page it would get quite draining because I am followed by a huge scope of different people in the media etc. So I thought I’d start up my own page that was just for people who wanted to learn more and mainly feel less alone when it came to their anxiety. I have my own radio drive time show on the Gold Coast (drive time on 92.5 Gold FM – you can download the app and listen from anywhere, lol!), I have been in media – radio and television, and a columnist for the last 21 years and I am probably best known for being an award-winning announcer (I’m still the only female in radio to ever beat John Laws in the ratings and I still hold the record for the only female radio presenter it to win “best announcer in the country” two years in a row!) and one of the founding members of Nova FM in Sydney with Merrick & Rosso and Ugly Phil in 2001! I have been part of many panel TV shows on a regular basis, including the Today Show, Sunrise the morning show and Studio 10. I was one of the original cast members of Beauty and the Beast too, and I’ve written my own one-woman stand-up show and I also am a published author. I’ve been busy! My anxiety disorder didn’t raise its ugly head until my early 30s and I really didn’t know what to do with myself. Ten years later I am a lot calmer about it all and I have researched a lot and read so much I have a much better understanding of who I am and what I’m going through. So I feel I am in a good position to share my journey with other people. I also have an account @biancadye with lots of behind the scenes of what I get up to in radio and TV.
What do you think is the main driver to people coming to your Instagram daily and following you?
I think the reason my page has become popular is that it’s very powerful in helping people realise that they are not alone and to not take what is going on for themselves, mental health wise, too seriously. A lot of people tag friends and family on my posts and it’s usually to let others know that this is how they are feeling or to help other people in their world understand their journey; it helps them understand their own journey better…does that make sense? I am also very honest with my posts. I figure if I’m going to do this I have to be 100% vulnerable and be honest and share exactly what’s going on for me! There were times I know I was probably too honest and have offended people in my past, or gone a little bit too far with what I have said, but I don’t really give a shit anymore. You get to a certain age when you stop caring about people that aren’t important.
What is the main story you like to tell through your images?
The common theme throughout my page is that “none of us are going through any of this alone!” and no matter how bad a certain day seems or no matter how bad things are getting, there is always someone out there who is going through a similar thing, and we get such relief seeing that others are going through it too, right?! If they can get through it then we can get through it – that is the main theme. Also hope/optimism/vulnerability/self-love/self-care are a common theme. I aim for, and I like to share, meditations that have worked for me, books that have worked for me and that I love, and articles. Another huge thing that I think is really popular is that I will share when a celebrity is going through anxiety or depression. I think knowing someone with an incredible profile, a huge bank account, and perfect looks is going through something that you are, for some reason makes it a little easier to bear.
And finally, what is the worst way for someone to try and get your attention on Instagram, and what is the best way?
Since the page has grown so much in popularity, I am now getting a lot of direct messages from people who want to share their mental health journeys. I’m OK with that if the page is established and I can tell that the person is authentic and that they are in this for the long run and that they are genuinely passionate about mental health, but a lot of the time it is really just somebody who has very few followers who just wants a shout out so that they can get more followers. I find that very unattractive and very unfair. I have worked tirelessly on my page for many years and I have gained my followers authentically because of my passion for what I do. To ask me to give your page a shout out when you have been literally doing it for a couple of months is insulting and I just delete those messages. On the flipside, if someone has just started an Instagram page but they are doing a fantastic campaign for mental health and I genuinely believe that it’s a good thing for my followers, I am more than happy to share it. The more people talking about it the better it’s going to be overall for ending the stigma towards mental health. We have already come such a long way since when I first started; there wasn’t many mental health pages; now there are a lot and many people have use the same name as mine which is both insulting and flattering but I guess the reality is I’m doing this to help people, not just to get followers! As long as I remind myself of the niche reason why I started this page I think I will always be on the right track! I’m so grateful that you guys have even given it some exposure here. I know that my page has helped many people get through days when I didn’t think they were going to make it, so even if this page reaches one person that needed some support then I have done my job today!!!