themighty logo

17 Photos That Show the Parts of Anxiety You Can't Put Into Words


It can be hard to explain what anxiety looks like — especially because most of the time, it’s invisible to the people around us. We carry it with us as we go through our work day, swallow anxious thoughts during nerve-wracking interactions and even physically remove ourselves from public when a panic attack strikes because we don’t want people to know our truth.

But words can’t always nail what anxiety feels like either. Sometimes, a picture can do a better job at explaining what’s going on inside. That’s why we asked our mental health community to share one photo that showed parts of anxiety it’s hard to put into words.

Whether we use words, pictures, art or poetry to explain our anxiety, let’s keep talking about it. It helps others know they’re not alone.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “Waking up in the middle of the night with uncontrollable anxiety and the only thing that can hold you together, the only thing that can keep the anxiety from triggering other symptoms that will send you to the hospital, is a highly trained extremely dedicated service dog.” — Jennifer L. A woman lying in bed. A black dog lies on top of her, his paws rested on her chest.

 2.Sometimes it’s easier to get in bed, build a hidey hole and just let the world pass by.” — Bailey S.

A selfie of a woman with brown skin and glasses, surrounded by a white blanket

3. “Moments like this are hard to explain. Sweating constantly, racing thoughts and constant dizziness like I’m floating are very hard to explain, especially to someone that doesn’t understand.” — Justin O.

4. I just keep crocheting. I guess it is also OCD as I have that too. When I am crocheting, I detach myself from the world around me.” — Jennifer O.

5. “When I’m under an anxiety attack, I have to sit somewhere safe to catch my breath… when I’m home, the bathtub is the safest and most stabile place.” — Tessu Z.

6.I frequently paint/repaint my nails. Nine out of 10 times, I start peeling and scratching them off, before they even start chipping because [of] my anxiety. Kinda helps me feel better, but it never stops. I do this all the time.” — Fahmid A.

7.Everything that I love or enjoy loses its colors and meaning. The joy then leaves me too. I fear the absence of these things.” — Julian O.

Need a non-judgmental place to talk about anxiety? Download our app and connect with others using the hashtag #Anxiety.

8. “I actually sent this to a friend when asked how I was feeling at the moment. I took this photo in response. There’s really nothing else to say…” — MJ X.

9. “Sadly most people simply don’t understand. I suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and most of the time feel incredibly isolated and alone… So I have two best friends. They are there with me 24/7, and they know before I do that I’m going to have an anxiety attack. They’re up on me purring away or bringing me gifts (like Odin in this pic, I’m shaking so hard the pic is blurred) to help calm me down, and they always always ground me again. Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful people in my life, but these guys are the ones who actually get it. And they’re not even human.” — Anna S.

10. “Hard as f**k to look like this when I’m breaking inside about everything that hasn’t even happened yet or may never happen.” — Neil T.

11. “When it starts to get intense and my brain is moving at 1,000 miles an hour. The thoughts don’t flow or connect, and its hard to focus on any one thing. It starts to feel like there’s a million things going on around me.” — Celeste W.

12. “Unconsciously scratching (a lot). On more than one occasion, the severity of my anxiety has failed to register until my skin is raw and bleeding.” — Maria C.

13. “This is my back porch right now. That concrete mix has been there for years. Logic says get rid of it, but anxiety says, ‘No what if (insert terrible excuse here).’ No matter how hard I fight myself, I just never win.” — Valerie S.

14. “A side of anxiety is when you get to the point of not wanting to cope with it on your own anymore, and not wanting to pass it along to someone else. A side of anxiety is ignoring all of the coping skills you’ve learned to just forcibly numb the feelings instead. Temporary fix to a permanent issue, I know, but sometimes I need that time away from myself to regroup and try again later.” — Katie V.

15.When anxiety manifests as anger. I’m constantly checking if I have a short fuse for a normal reason or another anxiety reason.” — Bonnie P.

16.  “This is what I do. Smile when I’m in pain because who wants to hear my problems? I was having a really anxious morning. I had a dream that freaked me out, felt myself falling into that ‘hole’ of depression which made me more anxious. So, I got up showered and made myself smile, thinking it would help. It didn’t. Spent the rest of the day meditating and talking myself off the anxious ledge.” — Bea H.

17.Getting to work and absolutely losing all my resolve to ‘be strong; be confident!’ Sometimes, all the positive self-talk and deep breaths in the world still leave me feeling like I’m helplessly drowning! It can last days or, like in this picture/on this morning, it can pass within minutes. But, it leaves your soul and psyche bruised and raw.” — Sara J.

If you see yourself in these photos, please know you’re not alone. Although it might seem “better” to hide what we’re feeling — it’s OK when you can’t. It’s OK when anxiety shows on your face or in your home. Hidden or more obvious, you deserve help for your anxiety. And you don’t have to do it alone.

Do you have a photo that shows anxiety in a way you can’t put into words? You can post an #Anxiety photo using The Mighty’s app. Download it here and share parts of your story only a picture can tell.