The Emoji I Use to Describe My Anxiety


When I was an undergraduate psychology major, we often asked what certain mental illnesses “looked” like. Some had fairly visible symptoms, but one illness always seemed to stump myself and my companions, and that was anxiety. It is hard to place a particular visual element to an illness that is so different for so many different people. While I had not had debilitating anxiety during college, I did experience a particularly scary health event that allowed me to experience what millions of people experience around the world every minute of every day of their lives.

For me, anxiety was more than just feeling overwhelmed. It included the process of becoming overwhelmed. I had specific triggers and pain points. When they got particularly bad, I could often find myself gasping for air and sobbing quite uncontrollably. But still, my anxiety was hard to describe. I imagine it could look like an amalgamate of Emoji symbols, each one harnessing and detailing a small part of what I was experiencing.

The sad face with the tear above his eyebrow. That one clicked first for me. It was able to visually represent my physical symptoms. The tears and the strife I felt were reminiscent of that.

face with cold sweat

The face that has a zipper for a mouth. That one represents how closed off I felt. I was not able to describe to others how I felt at times, especially when I started to spiral. I was in a place where I felt as if no one understood the pain, both physical and emotional, I felt on an everyday basis.

zipper mouth face

The emoji of a man in disguise. This is my ultimate favorite. Anxiety, for me, acted like a big old trench coat. It wrapped me up, made me a different person, with different feelings, different likes and dislikes, and a different demeanor.

sleuth or spy emoji

While I know it is not typical to use emojis to describe how I felt, it was difficult to pin one particular image on anxiety as a whole. For something so multifaceted, it was if I was not doing it justice. There are so many different experiences one can have when struggling with anxiety. Everyone’s choice of emojis to represent anxiety can be different. We do not all fit into the same mold with the same symptoms and the same effect.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Anxiety

A woman with colorful paint on her face

Anxiety Is...

Anxiety is… Sneaking in to whisper “I love you” into each child’s ear for the 50th time, just in case it’s the last. Endless thoughts of what will happen next, and when, and why and how… It’s asking God for forgiveness 500 times for the same thing, because you want to be sure. It’s having [...]

My Anxiety Feels Like a Plant Trying to Squeeze the Life From Me

It starts as scattered seeds. Kernels anchored by anxiety and waiting for the right conditions to sprout. Some days they are fertilized by memories. Some days by fear. Most often they germinate themselves, arriving with a lunchbox of sunlight and water as they feed one another. They don’t grow up and out, freeing themselves. Instead [...]

Dear Professor, Here's the Real Reason I Missed Your Class Again

Dear College Professor, There’s something I would like to let you know. I woke up this morning, got dressed and ate, but as you took role, I’m not in your class. It took everything in me to get out of bed this morning, and I planned on going to class. The moment I went to leave [...]
feet on the springboard

The Realization I Had When Anxiety Wouldn't Let Me Jump in the Pool

Two years ago, I stood for 40 minutes with my toes curled around the edge of a ledge and stared down 15 feet and 7 inches into a cold, somewhat dark abyss. My stomach churned, my brain swam, and I wasn’t quite sure oxygen existed anymore in my general vicinity. No matter what brain said, my body [...]