How I Use the Moon as a Metaphor for My Anxiety

The moon. One side of our moon faces the sun while the other side is completely swept in darkness. The only side we ever see… the side that faces the sun, faces the light. To many, the moon is a symbol of a light in the darkness. We tell stories about the “man on the moon.” The Japanese say it is a rabbit.

What do you see?

It’s just the moon, though, right? Nothing special. It’s just there. It gives us some light in the darkness. Gazing at the harvest moon is a wondrous sight. We all see it, but do we really see?

Anxiety and the moon are quite alike.

Now, just wait and hear me out on this one.

(Really, this could apply to a whole host of “invisible illnesses.” So if you fall into the category of an “invisible illness,” keep reading.)

I see the moon hanging up there in the sky. It’s bright and beautiful, even when only a crescent. The moon is certainly not alone in the galaxy, either; a whole host of stars, planets, and other interstellar objects are around it. And not to mention, the billions of people living on this planet gaze up at it nearly every night. We write songs and stories about the moon. This moon is pretty popular, isn’t it?

But wait. Earlier I was just talking about the moon having a dark side. That couldn’t possibly be true, could it? Something so beautiful and so popular could not possibly have a side of it constantly cast in the shadows — a side we never see.

Think about all of the people we see on a day-to-day basis: co-workers, the people at the restaurant where we buy lunch, the UPS driver, nurses at the doctor’s office, the police officer directing traffic, that one lady in the blue Nissan who you meet on the road every morning you drive to work, sometimes even our friends and family. Unless they specifically tell us or let us see (not unlike before we learn that we only see one side of the moon), how are we to know that part of them is also cast into a shadow? We would never see it.

It’s amazing how we can hide our troubles. It’s amazing how we can go years directly facing the sun so our backs are figuratively constantly in a shadow. It’s amazing how people only see what is in front and can easily be completely unknowing of this shadow.

Anxiety happens. It knows no boundaries.


Our human minds are either in the dark or facing the sun. We often choose to forget that the moon even has a dark side in the first place. People tell us, but we choose to ignore them. It doesn’t really matter, does it?

Yes. It certainly matters.

And I am also here to tell you that you matter. If you too have a side cast in darkness that you hide from the rest of the world, I’m here to tell you that I get it. And I sincerely hope using this metaphor will help you understand those who live with invisible illnesses. There’s a reason they choose to hide this side. There’s a reason some people choose to ignore it. There’s a reason for everything.

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Photo by Angelina Litvin, via Unsplash

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