How I experience anxiety.

anxiety

Anxiety comes in many different shapes. Some people have social anxiety, they’re scared of social situations. Some have seemingly random panic attacks and others suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Some break out in sweat, some yell and others turn silent.

To me, anxiety means thinking in worst-case scenarios. It means being worried about everything that can go wrong. It means overthinking all the possible outcomes of any situation. It means being scared of not living up to the expectations of others or the expectations myself. Anxiety means becoming tense in my shoulders, tense in my back and tense in my legs. It means becoming less aware of my surroundings and not being able to think straight anymore. It means failing to translate my feelings into words and it means blackouts. It means being afraid of winning and afraid of losing. And most of all, anxiety means total chaos.

The monster under the bed

I like to compare anxiety to the fear and restlessness most of us get after watching a horror movie. That feeling you get when you lay in bed afterwards and you can’t sleep because you feel scared. You know monsters aren’t real and you know they’re not under your bed. You know it’s just your mind playing games. You know you only get these feelings because you just finished watching a scary movie. You know there’s no reason to be scared.

Yet, you’re terrified of peeking under the bed. You need that blanket on top of you, you get tense and sweaty and you curl up and want to hide. You feel scared. Scared that something that does not exist will hurt you. You reassure yourself that everything will be fine, that monsters don’t exist, but still you feel scared. It’s a real feeling. You really are scared, even though you know there’s no reason to be. It’s weird, it’s irrational and it doesn’t make sense.

You know it’s just an illusion and you know no one will hurt you. Yet you’re scared that when you open your eyes there will be a monster in front of you. And you can’t stop thinking about it.

That’s how I’d describe my anxiety.

Anxiety quote

Luckily I know the monsters and I know the horror movie. I know where my fears come from. I know what caused it and I know what triggers it. Which means I can defeat it. I can defeat the monsters. I can defeat the fears. Defeat the anxiety. And I think I know how to do it.

Defeating anxiety

One option is to avoid my triggers. I can avoid them the same way people avoid watching horror movies. I can avoid situations that might make me feel anxious. I can avoid situations with a possibility of failure. I can avoid challenges. I can give up my job and give up my dreams. But that would be a horrible idea, because in the end it wouldn’t make me happy.

Another possible solution is to avoid going to bed after a horror movie. It’s avoiding the feelings of fear. It’s shutting down emotions, ignoring my feelings. It’s forcing myself to only have positive thoughts, not allowing any anxiety to surface. Maybe I can start drinking, or doing drugs, making ignoring the emotions much easier. But that doesn’t sound like a healthy plan either.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 11.16.23
Artwork by me, made while experiencing anxiety | View it on Society6 & RedBubble

The best choice, I think, is taking a peek under the bed and discovering that no monsters are hiding there. It’s facing my fears. It’s learning nothing will go wrong. Nothing bad will happen. It’s making choices, it’s taking on new projects, starting a blog, taking risks. It’s also failing, but learning how to deal with it. It’s learning how to turn failure into success, instead of the other way around. It’s understanding that everything will be ok. That’s how I will overcome my fears. That’s how I will overcome my anxiety. 

And I have a long way to go, a very long way, with ups and downs. But eventually I won’t think about the monsters anymore. I won’t be scared anymore. I won’t think about failing anymore. About fucking up. About doing something wrong. About disappointing others. About disappointing myself. I will stop caring and I will start living. I will be free and the anxiety will be gone. I have a long way to go, but I know I will succeed.

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53 Comments

  1. Itoo am a sufferer of anxiety and girl, you hit the nail on the head! It’s a one day at a time type of illness and I’ve come to accept that. One of the best things we can do is surround ourselves with people who understand and love us regardless! Great article

  2. This is such a great post. I struggle a bit with anxiety, too. I sometimes lie in bed for hours, just going over the worst case scenario for whatever new project is in my life. I’ve tried avoiding it before, but that just makes it worse. You’re so right. You have to face it head on.

    1. I hate it when that happens! For me writing down everything that’s popping into my head helps in those situations, but every person is different though. Took me a while to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’m still kind of figuring out. Good luck <3

  3. I deal with anxiety and depression. They like to feed off of each other. I’m always trying to keep myself busy, but there’s time when I dwell on something or I’m thinking of a million different ways something can go wrong or a million different responses to a simple “how are you”. Great post!

  4. I so can relate to that feeling! To know that what you are feeling is irrational, it is a feeling that has no ground. Like nausea, but more.. unplaceable, I write about similar stuff on my blog. I just try to deal with my emotions and I feel like writing about them release a lot of my tension. Thanks for this post. xx Maya

  5. I totally feel you on this 🙁 If I gave in my anxiety, I would not get out of the house, and then it would keep on growing because of the guilt that I’m missing on life. It’s best to wake up, shut down those thoughts and go on with the day. It gets much better 🙂

    http://www.saccharine-soul.com/ // IG:ruxandrasoare

  6. Thank you for sharing this! We need more people to share their stories to take away the stigma of mental health and educate others on the struggles that different individuals face. I love the color of your site it’s very lovely! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! And I totally agree. It’s a bit scary blogging about personal subjects like anxiety/mental health, but it’s so important to get our stories out there.

  7. Anxiety is such a difficult thing to understand because so many people have different triggers but I applaud you for being able to blog about this. I don’t know if you read ‘The Bloggess’ at all but i absolutely adore her as a writer as she manages to write so eloquently about her battle with anxiety etc… xo

  8. I really like this! I usually don’t experience anxiety throughout the day, but I have nighttime anxiety. Hey I would rather have nighttime anxiety than anxiety all the time. I know some people with it so bad that they don’t even want to leave the house. Thankfully when I get anxious it’s at night and it sometimes makes it hard to sleep because my mind goes crazy!!!
    I have had a panic attack before and that was the worst feeling of my life!!

  9. A great post. I’ve had my moments with anxiety as well. When you become more self aware (I don’t mean that negatively if you suffer to say that you aren’t, I just mean taking a closer look at my self and becoming more aware of why I experienced anxiety helped me get past my own issues), you realise anxiety comes as a result of living in the future. You start worrying about what could happen, living with WHAT IF in your head all the time, which is dumb really, or at least that’s what I forced myself to say to myself when anxiety would wash over me. Living in the now, what’s around me and where I am is important. I strongly recommend people taking a read or a listen to The Power of Now. It’s a bit intense, but you’ll get the jist early on. You learn to stop and slow down your brain and experience the moment, which helps you control your feelings.
    They say depression comes from living in the past, anxiety from living in the future. I’m not sure if you will all agree, but from my experience, that’s pretty spot on. Don’t give up on trying to conquer your battles, it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it!

    1. I definitely notice that the “what if’s” and worrying about the future play a huge role in my anxiety. But the past has a huge impact on me as well, I think they both are equally responsible for my anxiety.

  10. I love how you explain anxiety.
    Some people don’t understand how unbelievable it feels to be strangled everyday when you wake up, until you go to sleep.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  11. I suffer from anxiety also… mine is a less than yours and oven presents in more of an OVERWHELMED feeling. I go from fine to anxious and overwhelmed in seconds. I’m a highly sensitive person, and FEEL all of the FEELS…
    I’ve found some of your solutions to help, but lately my biggest help has been essential oils. Occasionally, I will forget to reach for them… and let me tell you my husband and daughter are quick to bring them to me! haha. Frankincense and Balance area HUGE help in keeping me SANE.

  12. Great write-up! I’m totally with you with working hard to face fears. I don’t think I’ll ever *not* be scared all the time, but if I keep pushing myself then maybe the fear can just sit in a quiet corner and not bother anyone.

  13. I think with the stress of modern days life most of us are exposed to some sort of anxiety. From the society I come from, there is no such a thing of diagnosed anxiety. You just have to get on with it, sort it out or you crumble and than people label you.
    After I lived in the UK for the past 6 years, I heard so many people speaking of anxiety freely, that I realised it’s a condition. I read about it and it didn’t take me long to realise that I’ve experienced it through out my whole life. Not knowing or stopping because of it, is what has taught me how to deal with it.

  14. I think in some ways we all suffer from anxiety, but choose to deal with it in different ways. I am glad more are raising awareness and telling their story because it will resonate with someone somewhere x

  15. I have suffered with depression for years, but thankfully never anxiety however I have quite a few friends that do. It impacts on every part of their lives and I hate how much they have to struggle 🙁

  16. I find the best way to deal with my anxiety and depression is to doing what I love as much as possible, like blogging 😀 But watching jolly movies and reading light-hearted books helps in the short term! 😀