British Columbia

Age of Anxiety: Singer-songwriter Ria Jade, 18, fights worry with music

Jade and her mother are panelists at the Age of Anxiety event at CBC Vancouver on Oct. 3

Jade and her mother are panelists at the Age of Anxiety event at CBC Vancouver on Oct. 3

Singer-songwriter Ria Jade (right) and her mother Jackie Dee will speak about youth anxiety at CBC Vancouver on Oct. 3. (Supplied)

She begins to stutter.

Her heart beats faster and faster, despite her attempts to calm herself.

She finds a place to lie down, crawls into a ball and becomes "frozen" — she can't move or open her mouth.

This is what Maple Ridge singer-songwriter Ria Jade experiences when her anxiety overwhelms her and triggers a panic attack.

"It's not just getting anxious about something that's going to happen, or something that's not even going to happen, it's about getting anxious about getting anxious," Jade said.

Jade, 18, will be sharing her struggles with generalized anxiety at Age of Anxiety, a panel discussion at CBC Vancouver on Oct. 3, hosted by Gloria Macarenko.

Getting help

Jade said she experienced anxiety throughout her childhood — during which she was often bullied by her classmates for being an overachiever, and also battled with an eating disorder.

She would repeatedly get panic attacks without really realizing what they were.

Her mother Jackie Dee said no one could speak to Jade when she was in the midst of an attack.

"It will probably take one or two hours before she recovers, she becomes normal again and starts talking," said Dee, who will also be at the panel discussion on Oct. 3.

Ria Jade performs cover songs and writes her own. (YouTube)

After several years of not wanting to speak about her struggles, Jade eventually opened up to a school counsellor about her challenges, and later met with psychiatrists.

She then got the courage to share more of her struggles with her family, and also met with doctors and psychiatrists.

No regrets

She said she's refused to let her anxiety stop her from her passions — she not only writes her own songs, but she also hosts her own television show eveRIAthing on Shaw's B.C. multicultural channel.

"I want to be able to live my life with no regrets," she said.

"I don't want to be sitting at home, 20, 30 years from now, wondering, 'What if I actually did something when I was younger? What if I wasn't afraid to leave the house to do a gig, or what if I actually did write that song?'"

Jade, who is also a motivational speaker, wants others suffering with anxiety to know that they can, and should, speak to someone about it and get the help they need.

"Everything is always scary at first, but it's kind of like learning to walk, or learning to ride a bike: you have to start somewhere, and then as soon as you can stand on two feet you can take on the world."

Check out CBC's Age of Anxiety Event

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Age of Anxiety: Singer-songwriter Ria Jade, 18, fights worry with music with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

With files from Manusha Janakiram