Home Individuals › Rachel



Have you tried, maybe, not worrying?

2015 media grant fellow Rachel Ross was 22 when she became aware she was experiencing anxiety and panic disorder, and had unknowingly been living with it for many years.

“At the time I didn’t really understand that anxiety was such a debilitating illness,” she explains. “It became something that completely interrupted all elements of my life.”

Rachel sought professional help and learnt that anxiety leaves people in a chronic state – “it is difficult, ongoing and complex”.

The former film student/now freelance director has since spoken to many others who struggle with the same condition. She is baffled at the lack of discussion and openness compared to many other physical and mental illnesses.

“Anxiety is an invisible illness and there is shame attached to it,” Rachel says. “I decided to take my passion for visual storytelling and develop a short film about anxiety to reduce some of the stigma and encourage openness and discussion around the disorder.”

The film’s title, Have you tried, maybe, not worrying? is a nod to those who think you can just will anxiety away, or conquer it by eating, sleeping and exercising properly, but - Rachel points out -  “quick fixes don’t work!”

Good happens even when you are going through bad things

Rachel took two years to meticulously plan her project. She pulled together all the funding she needed, wrote the script and built a strong production team.

Even so, there were challenges. She started the project in a good and healthy space, but once it came to filming, she found herself back in that raw space of anxiety and panic attacks.

“I was battling a serious personal issue at the time and the thought of directing put me into a huge spin.” Rachel recalls. “I knew what had to happen, but I had nothing to give.  I disintegrated and it was happening on one of the most important days of my life.”

Rachel says the love and acceptance from her team was amazing. ”My producer and cameraman knew exactly what needed to be done. The next day they organised for me to be on set, but able to relay my comments and input from the side. It took the pressure off and the panic disintegrated. I progressed and felt completely in my element; I directed as freely as ever before. It was absolutely incredible." 

Anxiety is a spectrum of complexity

The finished footage is being prepared for the film festival circuits and Rachel hopes it will speak to people currently experiencing anxiety, those supporting someone with anxiety, and those who have no knowledge of the topic at all.

She also hopes it communicates to those who disregard mental illness. “I would like them to go ‘wow – I didn’t realise anxiety was that serious’.

“Those diagnosed with the disorder know it dictates and debilitates every aspect of their life, but I’ve noticed more and more people beginning to claim anxiety as a part of their lives – and it feels like the word is beginning to lose its weight and severity.”

“I’m very aware that there is a spectrum and this is an extremely complex and difficult topic to unravel in its entirety. My desire for this film is that it allows people to discuss all aspects of this spectrum and for those who are struggling to feel compelled to reach out and talk to someone.  No one should do this alone." 

Rachel manages her own anxiety with medication and psychological strategies, as well as looking after her general wellbeing. “I’m learning how to live each moment and lean into each day, being active and doing the things I enjoy with the people I love,” she says.

“I’m extremely lucky, I’ve had immense support from my family and friends, and I can’t imagine having journeyed this without them.”


depression.org.nz has information and advice about living with anxiety.

Good reads

simon2 resized 2019

Positively bipolar


Simon Davis-Oakley enjoyed his life as a self-employed web designer and programmer... Read more

Magdel Hammond LMLM 2014

A different attitude to illness


Moving to Aotearoa was like shifting to “absolute paradise” for Magdel Hammond.... Read more

Richard anderson 6x4

Schizophrenia is part of my story


Schizophrenia is potentially the most stigmatising of all mental illness diagnoses. Despite... Read more

Minnie Baragwanath

Lessons on being who you are


Minnie Baragwanath is chief executive and creator of the Be. Institute, a... Read more

Hazel Guyan

Beautiful identities don't judge


University of Canterbury graduate, Hazel Guyan, is an inspiring young woman. Read more

Eric Biddington image

Album takes note of stigma


A project that brought together the musical and writing talents of two... Read more

Debbie Siau crop6x4

Debbie's journey to positive energy


When Debbie Siau was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she thought her... Read more

jo ashcroft 2014 marathon

Loving the bipolar label


To those who don’t know her, Jo Ashcroft is the “bipolar lady”... Read more

Lance Elliott

Personal experience inspires hope


Wellingtonian Lance Elliott has lived with schizophrenia for more than 20 years.... Read more


Poets stand against stigma


Rapper and performance poet Chris McMurray is drawing on his personal experiences... Read more

Andrew Serjeant image 1a

Art, stigma and other things


Some people spend all their spare cash on vices. Artist Andrew Sarjeant... Read more

Tamihana 2

Dancing out of the dark


When Kapiti dancer Tamihana Paurini experienced depression, he would not accept stigma... Read more

Shane and Joanna LMLM 2012

Living with someone who has a mental illness

Shane and Joanne

Everyone except their doctor said it couldn’t work, two people with bipolar... Read more

Rugby black and white person sport competition

A brush with mental distress


Pita Alatini says his brush with mental distress after being dropped from... Read more

WW Sarah Gordon image 1

Lifting the barrier for those battling mental illness


Between stints in psychiatric care and hiding her diagnosis from friends, Sarah... Read more


Takatāpui part of the whānau


By speaking up and challenging his own, and others, long held beliefs,... Read more

hand microphone mic hold

Student's speech breaks down barriers


“ARE YOU NUTS??!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??? So you’re CRAZY then!?” So... Read more

Kirsten Wong image 3

Shutting down discrimination 


Being an inaugural Like Minds, Like Mine ‘PODder’ is a very exciting... Read more

Rob image 2

Black comedy fights depression


There are not many people who have the ability to turn a... Read more

HYTMNW RachelRoss

Have you tried, maybe, not worrying?


2015 media grant fellow Rachel Ross was 22 when she became aware... Read more

Caitlin image 2

Thriving, not just surviving


Nineteen-year-old POD participant and Auckland University statistics student, Caitlin Smart, remembers her... Read more

Helena 4

Sharing experience gives others hope


“The advice I would give my younger self is – keep your... Read more

Natalie pexels photo

The Mindful Minute Challenge


Natalie Lanfear has lived with mental distress for ten years, although the... Read more


From China to NZ: A mental health journey

Sue's story

*Sue packed up her family’s life in China more than a decade... Read more

Brightside pexels photo 192997


The benefits of having experienced mental illness

It feels almost flippant to be talking about the benefits of having... Read more

Annie mychillybin100017 86 Small

Discrimination from friends hard to handle


Annie (36) is frustrated with her friends after an episode of mental... Read more

Joan of arc

A cacophony of creativity

Nine hear voices

Almost 600 years ago an illiterate, French peasant girl rose to prominence... Read more

Te Ariki LMLM 2012 cropped

Out of the darkness and into the light

Te Ariki

As the warm sunlight streams in through the window behind Te Ariki,... Read more

Editorial news media image 2


Why the media matters

Research indicates that uninformed media coverage of mental distress can contribute to... Read more