What it’s like to have both good and bad days living with anxiety.

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A Good Day Vs. A Bad Day With Anxiety

On a good day, I wake up with a clear head. On these rare days I lie in bed and think about my plans without anxious anticipation. I’m afforded a few seconds of calm. I feel at peace.

On a bad day, anxiety greets me as soon as I open my eyes, my head already heavy with thoughts and worries about what’s to come. I stay in bed a little longer and fight my way through an ocean of worries to get up.

On a good day, I stress over work and get overwhelmed when I’m busy. When I wrap up a meeting I’m thinking about what needs to be done without overanalyzing everything I said and did.

On a bad day, my back aches as I fight a million negative thoughts through my smile. When I leave to take a break, it’s not because I think I deserve it, but because my head is about to explode.

On a good day, I get home and unwind from the day. I do something I love or a chore I’ve been putting off. I might even go out to dinner with a friend and really enjoy myself.

On a bad day, I get home, exhausted, because it took so much effort to just get through the day. I watch TV not because I want to, but because I need something to numb my head if only for a few hours.

A good day and a bad day with anxiety may look exactly the same from the outside, but you can’t see what’s going on in my head. So if I tell you I’m struggling with anxiety today and need some extra support, don’t assume that just because I “seem” fine I am. Just because you can’t see anxiety doesn’t mean it’s not real.

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For many people living with anxiety, using public transport like crowded subways and undergrounds can be difficult. On Wednesday, Transport for London (TfL), London’s transportation department, released a new map of the London Underground designed to help those living with claustrophobia or anxiety.

The new map specifies which sections and stations of the Tube are underground and highlights routes customers can use to avoid them. More than half of the Tube’s 270 stations are above ground with only the Victoria Line and Waterloo and City line wholly underground. Up until now, there was no definitive way to tell which stations were completely enclosed unless you were familiar with the underground network.

“Making the Tube network accessible for everyone is one of our top priorities,” TfL director of customer strategy Mark Evers told The Telegraph. “This new map is just one of the tools we have created in response to feedback from our customers on how we can make the transport network more accessible, making traveling easier and more comfortable for all our customers.”

“This new map is an excellent resource for those wishing to avoid journeys where there are tunnels; serving as a great pre-journey planning aid and increasing access to public transport,” Nicky Lidbetter, Anxiety UK’s‘s chief executive, added in a statement.

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The map follows other TfL initiatives designed to improve the Tube’s accessibility such as badges for expectant mothers and those with hidden health conditions who would benefit from sitting down during their commute.

The Mighty has reached out to Transport for London for a comment and has yet to hear back.


Dealing with anxiety and depression means that a lot of those “everyday tasks” pile up on me. Some days, I’m too tired to deal with anything and I spend the day in bed. Other days, I waste so many hours on stressing and ruminating over all the things I have to get done that by the time I have to make that phone call or send that appointment request, I’m a shaking mess.

The worst part of having anxiety is that natural inclination to procrastinate. To put it off. Wait until there’s a better day until I’m feeling braver.

So I wait until Monday.

Monday always arrives with a long to-do list, which in turn sends me off in anxiety spiral. I have to finish an application to school, but I also need to deal with my loans, but before that I have to call my doctor and make an appointment… and on and on and on, ad nauseam.

It’s Monday today, and I finally got up the courage to make a phone call. I didn’t get past the receptionist and I’m certain she thought I’m some kind of idiotic weirdo because I couldn’t plainly just say what I wanted, so I rambled, much like this sentence.

Today isn’t going to happen. I’m going to have a nice lunch and watch some shows. Maybe nap. I tried my best to get something off my list, but I didn’t quite get there.

Next time, I won’t wait until Monday. I’ve put too much pressure on the day. Mondays are traditionally the worst day of the week for most people, so why overload it with tasks? Instead, Monday can be my day of self-care — easing myself into the week, so I can look at those tasks a little more realistically. If I take care of myself today, I’ll feel braver tomorrow.

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As a preschooler, people would always comment about how caring and concerned with others my daughter was. She was constantly praised and applauded for her care, for how well she shared, waited her turn and never got angry with anyone. At first, we (naively) prided ourselves for raising her to be so well behaved and kind, as if we were some sort of parenting rock stars. As she got older, there began to be signs that there was more going on than just an expertly raised child. By second grade she was laying in bed night after night for hours, unable to stop the spin of worries for other people: what did they think or feel, did they like her or not, did she upset someone that day, how could she get through the day without hurting anyone’s feelings. The thought of navigating the next school day sent her into a panic. Some nights she would pass out at 1 a.m. from sheer exhaustion, and other nights the worries would become so enormous that she would be physically ill.

My husband was the first one brave enough to say it out loud: maybe it was time to take her to a therapist. I was floored by his ludicrous suggestion. I was her mother, I knew how to take care of her, she did not need to talk to a stranger, he was being irrational for suggesting it. What would that look like for her? Would it make her feel weird or broken or sick? My husband felt very strongly about it, as he struggled with pretty debilitating anxiety, but when I looked at him and her they were so different there was no way she had anxiety. However, the more I watched what she was going through, the more I realized I could not relate to her. I was in over my head. I did not know how to fix her.

She began therapy, and so did I. I needed to face the insecurity that I did not know how to help my baby, and she needed to learn how to manage her worries and cope with the overwhelming feelings she has. Between my therapist and hers, we began a pretty in-depth education on anxiety, what it is and what it isn’t, what to say and how to react, when to engage and disengage. At first, it felt like every single thing I was doing intuitively was dead wrong — the very first one being the phrase, “Don’t be silly.” I had never considered the gravity of what that statement communicates to a very scared, very anxious 9-year-old. When I finally thought it through, my heart sank; how could I essentially tell her that she is silly for how she feels, that something is wrong with her, that she’s the odd one out. No wonder she was making herself sick! Here I was thinking I was doing everything right by my kids and I was constantly putting her down, without even realizing it.

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So, I began to examine all of the things we tell our children when they seek our support and validation, and I learned to choose my words very wisely. At this point, it has become ingrained in me to make sure that before I say anything, I validate that her feelings are OK, then I begin to tiptoe through the maze of guiding her to think about what she is worried about and decide for herself what worries are real and what worries are not. It is way too often the opposite when we speak to children; as fixers, we rush to decide for them what is worthy of their concern. But in fact learning how to sort through that on their own is a vital life skill for every man, woman and child on this planet — not just the anxious ones.

The hardest tool I had to learn is when to disengage from the conversation because as a parent you don’t ever want to shut down a child who is hurting and desperate for you to fix it. The thing is this: you cannot fix it. No matter how hard you try, this is in them — the only option is to learn how to manage it and be a source of unwavering support. With my daughter, there is usually something that starts the spin. As it progresses, the fears get bigger and bigger and spiral out of control, leaving her desperate for me to make promises I could never possibly fulfill. There is a lot of “Promise me you will never die.” Obviously, as much as I wish I could, I cannot in good faith promise her that, so I try to bring her back into the present, and focus on enjoying life as it is right now because the future is not in our control.

In the moments when she falls deep into despair and hopelessness, we have had a lot of success by making her write down three things she was grateful for that day. She keeps them in a jar so we can go back and remember that no matter how scary things feel, there is always good to be found. This is a tool I now use with all of my kids and myself too, because really, who can’t benefit from what we call “grateful notes?”

There are so many lessons I have learned so far on this very emotional, very humbling journey. A big one for me was that there is no shame in asking for help, that there is always something you can learn to do better and its important to be grateful for all the amazing things around you. But by far the biggest takeaway is that the words and reactions we give to our children are more important than the clothes we buy them, than the play dates we set up, than the homework we prioritize. Just listen closely to what they are actually asking — the real need isn’t always on the surface. Sometimes its a plea for validation, for you to affirm that they are “normal,” that things will be OK and that they have your support when they need it.

I look at the tremendous progress my daughter is making; she is learning to embrace her uniqueness and to see her extreme empathy as a superpower in making other people feel comfortable to be themselves. I know there will be peaks and valleys and her anxiety will never fully go away, but I am finally prepared to be a light in the darkness for her, forever willing to remind her how perfectly wonderful and enough she is.

Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s daughter.

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Thinkstock photo via Martinan


Lately, I’ve been working pretty hard on gratitude. As an agoraphobic, incredibly anxious mum to an adorable two-year-old, the idea of gratitude is often something I both overlook and scoff at. Grateful? Yeah, sure — I’m grateful I’ve had four hours sleep, spent three years housebound, my hair is going grey before I’m 30 and my living room floor looks like it’s carpeted but really it’s just a lot of dust and pet hair that I “forget” to vacuum on a regular basis. I’m super, duper grateful! Anyway, I finally realized that this constant state of frustration was not only a shit place to be but not in any way helpful to me or my family. So, I decided to spend a couple of minutes every day writing a list of all the things I’m grateful for, in the hope I’ll realize my life is actually pretty damn good. You know, despite the floor fluff and the gray hairs. And four months in, there is something a little bit surprising that frequently comes up on my gratitude list.

I am grateful for my anxiety.

Two years ago, if you’d asked me to affirm that I was grateful for my anxiety, I would’ve done it; I’m a pushover like that, but in no way would I have really believed it. Anxiety robbed me of my life as I knew it; anxiety kept me locked inside my house, inside my head, kept me from enjoying my days, instead spending them fearful and teary, wondering where in the hell I had gone wrong. It is like that for so many people with anxiety. But at the end of every day, when I write my little list of things I’m grateful for, I often find myself writing that I am grateful for my struggles, grateful for the fear and the shakes and the nervousness and the sick feeling that I get in the pit of my stomach sometimes, and grateful I am where I am today — not in spite of my anxiety, but because of my anxiety.

Maybe it’s that I’m taking my power back. Or maybe I’ve just come to realize that the last four years haven’t been a blip, but an eye-opening journey. The thing is, I don’t want to change myself anymore. Sure, I want to improve, but not because I dislike who or where I am right now. I’m not angry at my anxiety anymore. I’m not afraid of it, because — and there’s a bit of a paradox here — I am not my anxiety, but my anxiety is me.

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You might not have control just yet over what your anxiety does to you, but you can have control over what you do to your anxiety. Are you constantly cursing your anxiety? Are you running from it? Are you pretending it’s not there? Or do you just absolutely hate on it with every single fiber of your being? You probably answered yes to one or many of those questions, and I get it. I do. It’s really hard to feel positive about something that gets in the way of you doing your thing and enjoying life to the fullest. But remember the paradox I mentioned above? Your anxiety is you. You can’t run from yourself, you can’t pretend you aren’t there, you can hate and curse yourself but it sure doesn’t feel good to do so. Yeah, when you feel an anxiety attack coming on, it’s so frustrating that your body is reacting in the “wrong” way. But the important thing to remember is that your body is doing this to protect you. The danger gauge is off, but the good intentions were there.

Why not try giving your body some credit for looking out for your best interests, however misguided — so that instead of this internal conversation:

Anxiety: Hey! We’re in danger!
You: Are you sure?
Anxiety: Pretty sure!
You: I don’t think we are, but… well, now I’m freaking out a bit.
Anxiety: Me too! I think something bad is going to happen!
You: Why do you always overreact? Now I feel nervous and weird and I hate feeling so anxious… oh god, I think I’m going to throw up.
Anxiety: Told you we were in trouble! Sound the alarm!

You have this internal conversation:

Anxiety: Hey! We’re in danger!
You: Are you sure?
Anxiety: Pretty sure!
You: I don’t think we are. But I appreciate that you’re looking out for me all the same. You do your thing and I’ll just keep doing mine.
Anxiety: Oh. I was just trying to protect you. From… you know… the dangers…
You: I know.
Anxiety: Yep.
You: Thanks though.
Anxiety: I gotchu girl.

A much better internal dialogue, am I right?

The next time you start to feel anxious, I want you to do the following things:

1. Acknowledge Your Anxiety.

Before you do anything else, you need to just identify with how you’re feeling. For example, when I was at the very beginning of my exposure sessions, I would be thinking “I don’t want to feel anxious… I don’t want to feel anxious,” instead of just saying “I feel anxious.” So instead, simply notice how you are feeling, and acknowledge those thoughts.

2. Accept Your Anxiety.

Remember what your anxiety is: a response your body is making to a perceived threat. It isn’t an external force or person, it is you. Accept how it feels – is it only in certain parts of your body, or is it all encompassing? Is it consistent? Rising? Coming in waves? Affirm that however your body is feeling right now is OK. You don’t need to fight it or change it at this present time.

3. Appreciate Your Anxiety.

Say thank you to your body for looking out for you. Treat your anxiety like a super shy and really loveable child. How would you react if your kid came and showed you an incredibly adorable-in-only-the-way-kid’s-drawings-can-be piece of artwork that said “I luv u mum,” that they’d done it with your favorite, most expensive lipstick? You wouldn’t tell them they’re useless and that they ruin everything – you’d say “Thank you! That’s so good!” It’s the same with your anxiety. Treat it like a small child with the best intentions. Don’t constantly bring it down and hate it for existing. Show it love, show it care and appreciate it for being there.

And if you really want to go the whole way and treat your anxious self like a damn queen instead of some kind of exile, go ahead and write a list of all the reasons your anxiety has actually made you a stronger person. For example:

1. You face your fears every day.

2. You know what it means to be truly afraid, but try again and again anyway.

3. You have more empathy for others.

4. You have a deeper understanding of yourself.

5. You have a better connection with your family or friends.

6. You appreciate the simple things, like going for a walk in the sunshine.

7. You are on more of a journey of discovery than ever before.

Then write a list of all the things you can do to honor yourself and your anxiety. How can you strengthen your relationship with yourself so that you don’t always feel as if your anxiety is controlling you, instead of the other way around? My list looked a bit like this:

1. Practice yoga every day.

2. Meditate every day.

3. Eat foods that don’t irritate my gut.

4. Learn to relax – take a nap if I need to.

5. Read books that inspire me.

6. Be present instead of always zoning out on my phone.

7. Smile at myself more.

8. Let my body feel the way it wants to. (The other day I had some weird nervous energy happening and instead of mindlessly watching something on my laptop while anxiously ruminating about everything, I actually danced around the lounge room like a possessed woman because I obviously just needed to express some shit. It was weird and wonderful. Sorry if you are my neighbors.)

The next time you’re feeling anxious, try to give yourself a mental high-five instead of a face-palm and see what happens.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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 Thinkstock photo via fcscafeine


I have been running for years.

I have been hiding for years.

I have sought comfort in a universe that is known only to me.

I have lost myself to it more times than I could count, and absolutely more times than I would ever admit to anyone — even those who I know are in the same personal marathon I am going through.

I have lost seconds, minutes, even entire days running from it — quickly darting to my safe spot before it consumes me. The heavy cloak of it dropping on my shoulders and tying around my neck as I desperately scramble to be freed from the restraints it has had me shackled in for what feels like my entire life.

There are people who seek out silence; people who want to escape to a quiet, dark place to be alone with their thoughts. That place is pure hell for me.

I take great effort in avoiding that place, scrambling for noise in every moment of my day. I don’t want to be forced into silence to sit with only my thoughts. I don’t want to be consumed by the emotions that grotesquely ravage my soul.

I have been in a mental marathon with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and like any good race sometimes the person in first place — me — has an obvious lead only to have the person in second place, my anxiety, find a way to sprint ahead and lead the charge.

I have used writing as my coping mechanism since I was a young bullied teenager. Writing is my safe spot. I always compare the blinking cursor in a blank document to the wagging tail of a dog, quickly moving as it waits for me to give it attention. I can take charge with what I write. I can write myself into another character that allows me to lose myself, and my anxious thoughts, for as long as I need to at any given time.

Writing and freeing myself through words helps ease the anxiety, but I know that bastard is always right at my heels, just waiting for me to slip up or lose stamina. Once it gains the lead, it passes the baton off to depression. You want to see fast? Watch how quickly anxiety and depression work together as a team. They fuel each other as I try to maintain the momentum to keep up to them, hoping that at any given time I’ll be able to usurp the baton that is my life back and propel forwards.

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Sometimes I do get the baton, and it is glorious. I feel triumphant. It’s a grand feat when you fight your inner darkness and win. I celebrate the victories, no matter how long they last, because it’s a reminder that life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I will be doing this intricate dance with myself for probably the rest of my life.

I keep hearing that I’m in control. I am the one in charge and I have the ability to take lead in this back and forth tug of war dance. Maybe dance is too pretty of a word. The fight is ungainly. There is no grace or elegance. It’s a hurricane of fighting a flurry of my own negative thoughts and self-doubts. It’s a tsunami that overpowers every part of me at moments.

Being left alone with my own thoughts creates a snowball effect. It starts with one stupid thought that continually gains speed as it races along. Before I know it that single, simple thought somehow ends up with me reliving an embarrassing moment from 14 years ago with details so vivid you would swear it had happened that day.

I think the healthy thing to do would probably be to sit down in silence and confront those thoughts. Let the snowballs keep rolling until they are boulder-shaped orbs acting as a barrier in my mind. I’m not strong enough for that yet. I hope that someday I will be strong enough.

One day I’ll be able to shower without having to put music on or a movie on my laptop that I bring into the bathroom with me. Until that day comes where we have a final dance off to see once and for all who takes the lead, I will continue to run. I will continue to use my words and emotions as energy, fueling my body forward. I want that baton. I want that finish line with a victory where I left my opponents tasting defeat. I want this to be the epic race I’ll remind myself of when I feel down. I want to look back when I am having a bad day and remember this marathon where I pushed myself through every hurdle life threw my way; exhausted and drained I’ll remember slamming my feet against the proverbial ground and how, despite the odds, I managed to squeeze out a win, as marginal as it may have been. The baton will sit in an enclosed box in my brain on display for when anxiety and depression challenge me to a rematch. It will serve as a reminder that I beat you once against the odds and I can do it again. Just watch me.

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