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What My Anxiety Prison Feels Like

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In a previous blog, I wrote how my anxiety is a prison of my mind. I linked the signs and symptoms of anxiety to being locked up. Let me allow you to take an excursion into my mind to see how my anxiety holds me captive in prison.

My anxiety prison has limited windows.

Anxiety possesses me in a dark space. It keeps me awake while others are slumbering at night. I can barely see any resolution for my situation. Sometimes, I can’t even accept my blessing of being “released” from prison. I’ve been using coping skills but my mind keeps telling me, I will not succeed.

My anxiety prison lacks privacy.

Anxiety puts me on “front street” in the presence of family, friends and colleagues. It shape shifts into a panic attack, extreme pessimism or lack of follow-through on tasks. It’s really tricky trying to disguise my lack of concentration, tension headaches, confusion, irritability and fatigue at work or in social settings. Even worse, I hypothesize everyone knows I’m anxious when they have no earthly idea when I am struggling. Unfortunately, this altered perception keeps me in confinement as well.

My anxiety prison lacks freedom.

The color teal represents anxiety. I guess my main concern is anxiety cannot just be one color. It can be a symptom of another physical or mental illness or it can stand alone. When my creativity and imagination run rampant, it’s hard to wear just teal, but because I have no other color options, I fall back, feel stuck and become discouraged. Then, I become afraid to take risks or do anything out of the ordinary. My right brain constantly asks my left brain for permission to use my gifts. Thus, when I cannot shift my right brain hemisphere, my prefrontal cortex does not reason nor produce logic. My intuition and ingenuity remain in a sensory state. My brain is on overload, but I am stuck. This leads to my challenges with paying attention and organizing myself. I can present as bored, uninterested or disengaged. So, when my anxiety takes my freedom, I can isolate, lose motivation and my hope.

Sometimes my anxiety can transition into depression. I can remain in isolation for days to weeks. I feel lonely. It takes something from me, just sitting in the dark. It’s really cold. I just want someone to reach out to me. I can see a very small window. It does provide a glimpse of light, but this window is not big enough for me to grasp the bigger picture—my ultimate purpose in life.

While in the hole, there are guards who check on me regularly. These people notice my effort, resilience and strength. No, they do not have the authority to release me. I must rescue myself. However, they persistently emphasize the fighter within me. They encourage proper exercise and nutrition, risk-taking, literature therapy and following through with goals and dreams. Oddly, the guards see my aspiration even in my darkest moments.

Anxiety is a prison in my mind. When I get arrested and detained, there is no bail. I must endure it. Deal with it. Fight it. Rewrite it. And finally, accept it as a “beautiful nightmare.”

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Thinkstock photo via Luke_Franzen.

Originally published: March 9, 2017
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