The 'Rocking Chair' Analogy I Use to Explain What Anxiety Feels Like


I am a visual learner.

I have been for as long as I can remember.

Tell me something orally, and ask me to repeat it, solve it or figure it out, on-the-spot, and I will most likely struggle. I will probably ask you to repeat it; most likely more than once. No matter how book-smart I may be.

But, write it down? Draw it out? Or make me a diagram?

And we are onto something.

So, as the courage flooded in a few years ago, urging me to share my own story of my lifelong struggle with anxiety, through my writing and blog, I craved some sort of “visual” that I could impart upon with my family and friends, to help them understand what living with this secret thief really and truly feels like.

And that’s when I stumbled across the quote that would stick in my mind for eternity:

“Worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere.”

Ouch. To be honest, it kind of stung. Because, I knew, deep within my heart and mind, that worrying excessively was not something I could control. But, on the flip-side, I also found some truth behind it.

Yes, worrying is very much like a rocking sensation.

Back-and-forth.
Back-and-forth.
Panic-and-calm.
Panic-and-calm.
Fear-and-courage.
Fear-and-courage.
Worry-and-trust.
Worry-and-trust.
Potholes-and-smooth pavement.
Potholes-and-smooth pavement.

That’s life for most of us.
You see, the thing is, most people can get up-and-out of the chair.
They can walk through their day.
Wondering, “What’s the use in worrying about this anyway?”
And move freely with a sense of calm and peace.
They may come back to sit down for a few minutes.
Yet, they can still stand up, take a deep breath and continue going. But for those of us with anxiety?
The “image” looks a little different…

When we are in that rocking chair, we feel completely trapped.

Locked in.
Seat-belted.
Handcuffed.
Bolted down.
No room to wiggle.
No way to stop it.
No chance to catch our breath.
Entrapped within our worries.
However “unreal” or “crazy” they may seem.
At the complete and utter mercy of an unseen monster.
Who won’t let us get up.
Who won’t let us loose.
Who won’t let us catch a break.
Who simply provides continuous, uninterrupted nervousness and utter fear.

And when we finally do have the courage to stand up and stretch?
To try to walk away?
And continue on with our work, family and personal routines?
He unknowingly grabs ahold, pulling us right back down into our “seat.”

And the rocking begins, once again.
Worrying?
Having anxiety?
It always gives us something to do.
That part of it? N.e.v.e.r fails those of us suffering.

But, if you don’t think we would give anything in the world, for a moment without our rocking chair in-toe… without hours-upon-days-upon-months-upon years… of merciless worrying… “mistaken” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Most of us, really and truly, would love nothing more than to burn our rocking chairs. Never to be seen again.

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