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An Open Letter to My Anxiety Brain

Dear Anxiety Brain,

It’s me again. Notice how I referred to you as my anxiety brain and not my brain. I did this for a very important reason. While yes, you are in fact part of me…you feel so separate. My logical brain knows that half of the things you do are just made up to scare me and make me wonder if I should be afraid to say or do things in my life.

Why do you turn on me?

You are supposed to protect me…supposed to keep me safe. Help me distinguish wrong from right and good from bad. You are supposed to be my friend. On my team. So why do you make me fear myself and over-think the things I do? The way I am?

People don’t understand you.

When I try to explain to them what is going on inside my head, I struggle to put it into words they will understand. Words with any kind of deeper acknowledgement than just “oh okay” in response. I want them to understand me. But how can they if I don’t even understand what’s going on in there?

You are the reason why I do so many things differently than most people.

You are the reason why I bite my lips and pick my fingernails apart. You are the reason my eyes dart around like I’m on steroids when I’m on a crowded bus or train. The reason why I wake up some mornings feeling good about what I see in the mirror and other days I can’t be happy because I feel ugly. You are the reason why I’m tired and unmotivated because you keep me high-strung for so long at a time there is always a crash at the end. You are the reason why the guy I love tells me he loves me too and I can never believe it unless he keeps on reminding me. I’m not forgetful. You just make me think that everyone is as wishy-washy as you are.

Sometimes you are there for me.

Sometimes I’m grateful to have you. Surprising, huh? In ways you help me survive because you make me think about every possible outcome of a situation. While yes, this is incredibly exhausting, it is also a good thing. You help keep me from getting hurt all of the time because although I am strong, I am also soft in the way I live life. People say I’m emotional and care too much what others think. That’s your fault. But I’m glad you make me emotional because I don’t want to be numb to life. I want to feel everything, even if it scares me.

You are gonna be around forever.

I know that. You make my life challenging in more ways than one, but you aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and I have finally accepted that. I have anxiety. Most people I tell this to either downplay it or run in the other direction. In times of my worst panic and frustration, my bags are packed ready to explore somewhere new and start over. Someone very close to me once asked what it was that I was running from and that stopped me in my tracks.

I never really saw it as running, but I guess that’s part of what it always has been. In a lot of ways, I think it’s you that I’m running from. The confused part of me that wants anything to be happy and normal…but you always seem to get in the way. But eventually I learned that no matter how much you run, you can never outrun your fears or doubts. You just have to face them dead on.

I guess in a weird kind of way it’s a good thing you scare some people.

You are a part of me and if that honesty is enough to scare someone away, then maybe they weren’t meant to stay. I’m not ashamed of you…and I will work everyday to talk about you and about anxiety so that other people can understand themselves a little better too.

Sincerely,

Hannah (and many other people who have one of you too!)

 

I am a Junior at James Madison University studying Media Arts & Design. I recently completed an internship with Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, FL and plan to pursue a full time position with the company post grad. I love reading, writing, photography and videography.
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