Why Anxiety Representation Is Important

I have dealt with anxiety a lot in my life. Sometimes I will feel fine and other times I will feel my heart pounding, over heated, and almost like I am trapped in a bubble. Sometimes even anxiety can happen because I am not feeling anxious and having a feeling because I feel good that something bad will occur soon. Similar to letting your guard down and then worrying something is going to hurt you.

I deal with this almost every day and it can honestly range from bearable to awful. However, something I do have to thank for helping me through it is books.

In recent years, I have tried to read more and more diversely. I have always loved reading and have read over 50 books just this year. When I say diversely I mean more than just reading about people who do not look like me or have the same background as me, but also mental health and mental illness wise. I have read books about people who have bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental illnesses. However, I have also read about characters who have anxiety, and that honestly has made me feel better than I have in a long time.

A book that I feel best exemplifies this is Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.  Every Last Word is my favorite book and one of the best portrayals of anxiety I have ever seen. While I cannot speak about the OCD rep in the book (which the main character has), she also has some issues regarding anxiety. Something I can relate to extremely. Anxiety representation is something that is important to me, especially good representation. I have read books that have had anxiety representation, but sadly it was not good representation. It fell into the category of writing stereotypes of anxious people, rather having any kind of accurate portrayal of what anxiety is really like. Representation in media is good, but if you are going to write it you should do your research and try your best to make sure your writing is accurate and respectful to those who are in the group of people you’re portraying. Whether that be someone who has a certain disability or illness, or someone with a sexuality that is different than your own. If you are going to write anything outside of your own experience, please make sure that you try as hard as you can to write it with as much courtesy and accuracy as possible.

I love reading books where I can see myself in them. It helps to remind me I am not alone in the world. That other people have similar struggles or emotions as I do, and that I am not a bad person for feeling how I feel. I believe this relates to a lot of other people too. Having books and other forms of media with characters you can see yourself in is so important because it can help those people in ways you never imagined. From having someone just be able to see a character like themselves and feel good to possibly inspiring someone to do things they may never have dreamed of otherwise.

Having good anxiety representation in books has helped me in ways you can’t imagine. I love being able to say that I know how a character feels, and sometimes even just seeing a character in a similar situation as I have a happy ending can give me hope for a happy ending too. Good representation in books may seem like a small thing to some, but in all honesty it could help out readers in more ways than you could ever imagine.