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An Open Letter to My Anxiety

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Everyone knows you. You come when a high school student is awaiting their results, when a mother is expecting her first born, etc. But then there are some who you seem to like more than others. You cause people to stress about things that may be irrational, but you convince people to fear what you say.

I get that you try to protect us, but when you prevent us from leaving our homes out of fear of stories you tell us, it’s not protection — it’s preventing people from fully living. You may have good intentions, but I think you should know that for those of us who you choose to get closer to, we’re a bit tired of constantly hosting you.

I’m not saying to leave, because I understand you believe that you mean well in telling us what may or may not be safe. What I am saying is that the people you have taken an extra liking to, don’t appreciate that extra time. When you convince me it’s not safe to leave the house for fears of an accident that might occur, or that the only way to remain safe is to isolate myself, it’s not protecting me. It’s doing a lot more harm than good.

You affect people differently. I mean it’s great you don’t discriminate against people, we need more of that, but in a positive way…not in the way you control us. If you’re just briefly visiting a flustered child who is about to sit their maths test, that’s OK. When you become a full-time resident in someone’s mind, that’s over staying your welcome. You decide that soldiers, trauma victims and the like need your attention. We are more cautious and more afraid because of our ordeals and you become more clingy, but we don’t need reminders of our past events…thank you. When I want to pursue my dreams, my goals, you’re always there to tell me to not bother, that I can’t do what I want because of fear. It’s a fear that you remind me of every single day. I know that you have many other ways of affecting people, but we could be here for a while. You don’t tend to be able to focus on one thing for too long; it’s always a million different catastrophes per minute with you.

You create phobias. You whisper into an unwilling ear how something could lead to their own downfall. Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, etc., you know that these aren’t going to kill people, yet you tell us so. So much so that it can affect someone’s daily life. Although, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there are people using you. People who claim to be homophobic or transphobic, they claim to have a phobia, caused by you. But it seems more so these people just don’t understand that we’re all human; it’s not fear, it’s close-mindedness. I think that you should talk this out with these people who are hiding behind you to put down others.

No matter how much I try to get you to leave, you keep managing to find your way back. I’ve lived with you for so long, and I almost can’t imagine what it’d be like to not know you. I know you try to help people to survive, and you do, but you also stop people from living their lives. You lead people to believe they are not in control of their lives, but we know they are. You find those who are empathetic, who are creative. People who offer so much to the world.

Please try to be a bit more considerate to those you spend your time with. Don’t tell us the ways things can go wrong on a daily basis, that’s not helpful. I know that you can’t fully leave us, but at least just back off a little. We know it might not always be rational, so please don’t try to convince us that such fears will come true if we don’t listen to you.

A version of this story originally appeared

Photo credit: Dmitriy Postnikov/Getty Images

Originally published: June 16, 2019
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