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From anxiety to freedom

Silena Martin, a counsellor with her own anxiety journey. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND


Emily Ireland

Silena Martin, of Masterton, has experienced “a lot of brokenness” in her life.

Because of her experiences, for a long time she believed that she was “useless”.

Chronic anxiety seeped into her life, escalating to a point where she had severe reality-altering panic attacks she would “wake” from.

All that was before she understood how anxiety operated.

Now, she is a counsellor and shares insights from her own journey through anxiety into freedom with other women.

She is hosting a workshop on September 29 at Masterton Community Church titled From Anxiety to Freedom.

“The biggest stronghold in my anxiety was that I truly believed I was useless,” she said.

“There were lots of early experiences for me that actually confirmed that to my mind.

“But they were lies upon lies.”

Silena’s father left her when she was a year old.

“The message I gave to that situation was, ‘my father doesn’t love me’.”

After studying counselling and learning how anxiety operated, she realised it was her that had given the negative message to the situation.

“My father didn’t leave because I was unlovable.

“He left because that was the decision he had made.

“There was also a lot of abuse in my upbringing.

“It was a really dark, scary place . . . it cemented to me that actually, I am useless.”

In 2008, Silena graduated from a counselling course at Lifeway College up at Snell’s Beach.

“Through the counselling we were taught how to counsel, but I was counselled myself as a result.

“It was through the course, that I actually discovered that I had anxiety.

“The driver for the panic attacks and anxiety I was having was a fear of failure.”

With support from her peers, her faith, and new knowledge, Silena had a breakthrough – she tore down the foundation she had built most of her life upon – the lie that she was useless, the lie that that she was not worthy, the lie that she had nothing to offer.

“Now I know I’m not useless, I’m useful.

“And these bad things that have happened in my life, yes, they still did happen, but they no longer define who I am.”

Silena hopes her workshop at the end of this month will equip other women with the tools needed to overcome anxiety.

“Anxiety is fear-driven.

“It’s future-based and manifests in the question ‘what if?’.

“People with anxiety see a bad outcome and the hallmark of anxiety is avoidance.”

She said the “anxiety profile” was made up of four things: mood, the physical response, behaviour, and thoughts.

Typically, the behaviour associated with anxiety was avoidance.

“We are overestimating a danger and underestimating our ability to cope.”

She said her journey with anxiety was exactly that – a journey.

“I still get anxious, but I can identify it and grab it and allow it to no longer continue in my life.

“Everything that has happened in my life has been used for good.

“Instead of looking at it as negative, I can now turn it into something good and empower other women.”


  • Silena’s From Anxiety to Freedom workshop will be held from 9am until 3pm on September 29 at Masterton Community Church.
  • Spaces are limited, and interest must be registered by emailing [email protected].
  • The workshop costs $50 and Silena will draw on her Christian faith experiences, as well as her learning to empower participants.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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