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If Anxiety Keeps You Up at Night, These Comics Are For You

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For many, the moments just after getting into bed before going to sleep can be some of the most relaxing of the day. But for a lot of folks with anxiety, this time can be the exact opposite.

Instead of drifting off into a peaceful sleep, someone with anxiety might struggle with incessant overthinking that can make sleep feel like a distant dream. These racing thoughts might sound a little something like this:

I have 27 unread text messages. I’m a horrible friend…

I forgot to make a doctor’s appointment today. That reminds me, I haven’t seen the dentist in a while. … Do I feel a cavity?

Did people like me in third grade? 

If you can relate, you’re not alone. Struggling to sleep because of anxiety is something illustrator Clare Kayden Hines can relate to. Hines, who created the Instagram account @kadenhines, creates artwork that reflects her experience living with anxiety.

Hines told The Mighty she’s always been an anxious person, but didn’t get her official diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) until recently. She said she was shocked when her doctor explained how many of her physical symptoms were related to anxiety.

“Before I got my diagnosis, I developed severe insomnia — to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep for four days straight. I had stomach problems and I got rashes everywhere,” she said. “I didn’t know what was wrong with me. … I didn’t know how connected my physical health was to my mental health.”

Hines said she still experiences physical symptoms like stomachaches due to anxiety from time to time, but she’s learning to recognize the signs earlier and adjust accordingly.

“I’ve just made a deal with myself that no accomplishment — nothing — is as important as my health,” she told The Mighty. “I’ve learned to take note of those physical signs and be like, ‘OK, something’s happening here’ and I take a step back — I might not even do any work that day.”

In the midst of mental health struggles, Hines said creating art — and finding the humor in anxiety — are both important parts of her self-care strategy.

“My art is my reaction to the pressures and expectations I feel in my own life. It allows me to express my frustrations and anxieties out loud and also laugh at them,” she explained. “Humor helps me cope so much with my anxiety and stress. If I had a choice between laughing at myself or taking myself seriously, I’d always rather laugh.”

Hines said in addition to using humor to normalize experiencing anxiety, the most rewarding part of sharing her artwork on social media is letting people know they aren’t alone. She said:

The more we talk about the things we feel ashamed of, or think are ‘abnormal,’ the more we’ll realize we’re not alone. If all of us shared how we felt with each other, we’d realize all these stigmas weren’t actually stigmas — they’re normal and common. And they’re only as scary and powerful as we let them be.

To see more of Hines’ work, follow her on Instagram here. If you live with anxiety and experience insomnia or other physical symptoms, you’re not alone.

For more on anxiety‘s body-mind connection, check out the following stories from our Mighty community. If you’re struggling and need support, we encourage you to post a Thought or Question on The Mighty with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe.

Originally published: May 31, 2019
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