An Open Letter to My Anxiety
Although you haven’t “officially” been a part of my life until this year, I’ve felt your presence throughout my 17 years of living. I remember feeling you while I was alone in the grocery aisle, or while waiting outside a public bathroom for a familiar face to come out. Anxiety, you always had a way of sneaking up on me and stealing all the joy and fun out of situations. Like my family’s love for amusement parks. Because of you, I hate roller coasters. I’m always afraid I’ll get stuck on the chainlift or trapped in the harnesses. All I wanted was to enjoy spending time with my siblings and parents during these vacations; I don’t remember sending you an invite.
I’m normally not a person who speaks about hatred of something, but Anxiety, you’ve put me through a lot. It’s partially your fault I can’t trust people; I was left, lost, hurt and used a little too often for my liking. Anxiety, it’s partially your fault I was so desperate to seek attention. Through all the struggles in my past, you were always there to whisper in my ear that nobody cares. Or that I’m invisible. That people purposely ignore me. You tricked me into believing I had to fight for people’s attention; I had to put myself and others in harms way to get people to see me. Anxiety, I pushed a lot of people away because of that. So although I’m not a person who normally speaks about hatred, I think it’s fair for me to say I hate that you warped my thinking. I hate that you made me hurt and lose people in my life.
You know what you love to hold against me, Anxiety? The fact that I hate elevators. I get so frustrated when I think about them, and my heart immediately starts to race. Have you ever taken a moment and just thought about that situation, Anxiety? Thinking about elevators, just having the word pop into my mind, creates a petrified fear in me. I don’t even have to be anywhere near an elevator and I’m already afraid I’m going to get trapped.
I know you aren’t a person, Anxiety, but I can imagine you laughing at my irrational fear and how much power you have over me. This isn’t funny, Anxiety. You know it’s your fault when I get scared. Knowing that makes me even angrier — don’t you see the vicious cycle you’ve trapped me in? Do you know how hopeless it feels to sit in a classroom and have thoughts about dying? Or to be studying in the library and feel such insane weight you physically can’t get up from your seat? What about when you’re driving and thoughts rush into your mind of every worst case scenario in the history of the world?
But I’ve realized something, Anxiety. I realized I couldn’t stand your presence in my life anymore. It hit me like a ton of bricks — you were ruining my life and ruthlessly sabotaging me. When you’re there in the morning it’s like you’re tying me to my bed, holding me back from conquering the day’s adventures. For weeks, I couldn’t even get out the front door to go to school without crying. Anxiety, when I noticed you were keeping me hostage in my own mind, I knew my battle with you was just beginning.
You see, I didn’t start fighting you back when we first met in the grocery store or outside a bathroom. I started fighting you when I realized I wasn’t living my life. While on the surface my life looked like mine, underneath it was controlled by you. The day I decided I was going to actually start living was the day I started fighting you. It was the same day I was sick of the panic attacks, sick of missing amazing opportunities and sick of constantly worrying about dying. From that day forward, Anxiety, I got out of bed every day and went head to head with you. And I’m slowly gaining more strength with the help of prayers, scripture, writing, calling people when I need someone to talk to, doing math problems when I need a distraction, and yes, even with the assistance of a little white pill. All those things by themselves won’t be successful in taking you down. But when I take them along my side and lead them up into the front lines, anything is possible. Each and every day I’m getting closer to destroying your reign over my life.
This is my life, Anxiety. I’m not going to let you dictate it anymore. It’s time for me to take control. Your careless attempts to make me weaker are no longer going to debilitate me. I control the reigns over my mind and my life.
Sorry Anxiety, but this train is leaving and you don’t have a ticket. Even if you sneak into my luggage for the rest of my life, so be it. I’m not going to let you ruin the fun for me anymore. This fight will end in my victory. You no longer have any power over me. More than anything, I’m free. You no longer define me. You no longer control me. You no longer have any power over me. Yes, I am free.
Emma E. Welling
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