Updated: Dec 4, 2018
Writing has always helped me process my thoughts and emotions. Anxiety, however, has proved to be a beast of a different nature and has called for innovative coping strategies to keep my emotional state in check. When I’m at my most anxious state, I feel like I cannot even breathe, let alone pick up a pen and paper. I’ve always had an anxious personality, but over the years I’ve hid my anxiety so that I can function as I need to.
Growing up, I never knew Anxiety’s name, but I was very familiar with her. She had the worst timing and would drop in when I felt at my weakest. Sometimes, she would stay with me, getting cozy at the hearth of my mind—an obnoxious spectator of my everyday life. I viewed her as an intruder, like a pest that wouldn’t leave no matter what I did. Eventually, as breakdowns became more frequent, I realized she had moved in with me permanently. I was devastated when I realized that there was no escaping her.
This is probably one of my more personal pieces because our society has told us that our Anxieties should be well-kept secrets. As I write this, knowing that I am going to share this with the world, Anxiety breathes down my neck, looking over my shoulder, muttering, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it,” over and over and over. When I keep writing, she comes up with all these “What if?” scenarios to scare me into erasing everything I have typed so far. For now, I can easily soothe her and know that everything is going to be fine. Although revealing her to the world means that I can never deny her ever again, I’m okay with that because I do not want to.
The thing with Anxiety is that she likes to nitpick on details, which is why it’s easy for her to seep into all the nooks and crannies of my life. Lately, I’ve been making a conscious effort to say “I feel anxious” instead of “I am anxious.” It may not be a significant detail to some people, but it helps me remember that I am not my anxiety, and I accept that it is a part of me. Letting myself feel these anxieties lessens the anxiety I feel about having anxiety, which is the cruel irony of this battle. Now I try not to get upset with Anxiety when she acts up. I ask what is upsetting her and allow her to freak out for a while. Most days, Anxiety does not hold onto me long when I welcome her instead of screaming for her to leave and shutting her out. I once believed I had to love myself DESPITE anxiety, but now I’m learning to love myself WITH it. And that’s what brings me closer to finding peace within myself.