A Letter to My Anxiety: A Work in Progress

*Trigger warning: Anxiety*

As soon as I joined the Her Campus team this semester, my mind was spinning with ideas for articles. As someone who’s been writing for most of my life, I knew I wanted to write about the things I really cared about; about what gets me excited. 

Among all of these ideas at the very core of me, I want my work to show the real me. And that means writing about the things that make me human; the good and the bad things. And there’s one thing specifically that may not define me, but oh boy do I have things to say to it.

Yes, Anxiety, I’m talking to you. I’m sure you knew this was coming because as soon as I had the idea to write about you, you started spitting doubts into my mind about how calling you out was going to come back to bite me. You turned into my inner critic, telling me what everyone was going to say as soon as they read this: 

“She’s doing this for attention.” 

I’d say “attention” is the wrong word, I would more say to the readers: If you’re reading this and you didn’t know, I live anxiety that affects me every day. And now you know. But it’s not like I have some kind of superpower I’m trying to show off; it’s something I wouldn’t wish on a single person. It’s like if I had a chronic case of the flu- who would want that? And to add to that, why would I keep it a secret? Maybe you’re reading this and you have anxiety too, which means you know what I’m talking about; or maybe you don’t have anxiety, but you know someone who does, or maybe you don’t know a single thing about what it’s like to live with anxiety. Maybe after reading this, you’ll have learned something new: Now you know. 

So yes, Anxiety, I’m doing this for attention, but not because I want to be in the spotlight. I’m bringing the attention to you; I’m shining a flashlight on you while you’re hiding in your corner with your box of party tricks. I’m dragging you out from where no one notices you so people who know you will stop thinking they have to keep you a secret.

“Everyone has some form of anxiety”

That’s true, and there’s an undeniable number of people who struggle with mental health in some shape or form. But that doesn’t devalue anyone’s experiences or even my own. It doesn’t matter how common it is, or how mild or severe a person has it. Anxiety is horrible. It’s painful and it’s scarring. It tears you up into pieces every day, and every time you try to put yourself back together, it does it again.  

So yes, Anxiety, you are common- but it doesn’t make you simple. 

Courtesy: Courthouse News

“This doesn’t make her special” 

Actually, I am special. I’m a one-of-a-kind person, so thanks for pointing it out. I have weird hobbies like editing my friend’s essays for fun (even though no one ever believes me when I tell that I will literally read, edit and proofread your writing in my own free time in a hot minute) and if I found the right book, I could lock myself up in my room all day until I finished it, and then take the next day to reread it. I could go an entire day without talking while still being around my friends, but it’s not because I’m uninterested in what they’re saying. It’s because I’m perfectly content inside my head, thinking about things like when I wanted to get a pet one day, and if I wanted a dog or a cat and which breed- or if I should be ~exotic~ and get something like a fennec fox: Because look how cute!

Courtesy: It’s Nature

There- that’s an example of how quickly I get distracted and end up spending twenty minutes researching all the animals I could legally own. I spend a lot of time just thinking, which is a blessing and a curse, but I can also turn into a girl who never shuts up. I’ll dance like no one’s watching and sing all of the wrong lyrics without apologizing. I’ll say dumb things and be slow to understand the joke you tell, but I’ll start laughing at my own jokes before I even finish telling them. Because that’s just me. It’s not like I have to be the same all the time. That would get boring… and annoying. 

So yes, anxiety, I am special. And so is every person you try to mess with. 

“She’s totally exaggerating all of this” 

I hate to break it to you, Anxiety, but that’s literally all you do: Exaggerate things. You make me think about the same things over and over, about all the things I haven’t gotten done and what I need to do next. You remind me of what I should and shouldn’t have done the moment, hour, day, month and year before each second and make me analyze every single detail of my memories in every possible angle. You give me physical symptoms that don’t actually exist; that my chest is getting tighter by the minute and that the world in front of me is slowly fading out of existence until I shut down. You make me think I’m about to collapse out of nowhere while I’m at the mall deciding between two dresses I want, or while I’m dancing on a Friday night with my friends, or in my room where no one else is there to remind me that it’s all in my head.

Sometimes you make me feel these things when I’m surrounded by all my friends and tons of strangers, but I have to try to stay calm and look like everything is totally fine. How do you just say “Hey guys I think I’m about to pass out or have a heart attack for absolutely no reason, but don’t worry I’m definitely fine. What were we just talking about?” 

So yes, Anxiety, I am exaggerating: Every single day. 

I didn’t know when the right time to write an article about this would be, because in my head it would be my survival story when I was over it. My conquest over the thing that was constantly breaking me down, making me feel so scared and alone all the time. I was thinking maybe in a semester, or a year or two, I’ll feel accomplished enough to write about this, but do you know what I’ve learned? 

Courtesy: Her Way

There’s never going to be a “right time” because I’m a work in progress. And I always will be. 

And to you, Anxiety, just by writing this article it proves I have power over you. I’m able to write this calm and collected, even though shortly before starting it was getting hard to breathe because I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things that went wrong today. I’ve proved myself to be stronger than you every single day, just by making the extra effort to smile to my music as I feel the sun walking to class, by giving myself a high-five every time I successfully boil water without setting off the smoke alarm (pro-tip: Always remember the fan) and by realizing how good it feels to laugh at my mistakes instead of dwell on them. 

And to every person reading this, remember that you can never tell how anyone is really feeling, no matter how well you think you can read people. If you see me out and I’m smiling and laughing with my friends, sure, I probably look happy at the moment, but I might be on the verge of a panic attack, but I’m so used to hiding them that you would never notice. I’m still human and sometimes my anxiety makes me feel weak, but every time it passes it’s a reminder. 

I’m human; I’m not my anxiety. Sure, I’m a girl with anxiety but as an interlude, let me geek out for a second as an English major to remind you how your eighth-grade teacher taught you how to simplify a sentence: Cross out the prepositional phrases. 

So yes, I may be a girl with anxiety. 

But behind all that, I’m just a girl. And that makes me so much more. 

Courtesy: Atticus Poetry

 

Want to see more HCFSU? Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest!