The Mighty Logo

If Your Anxiety Is Like an 'Overprotective Friend,' This Comic Is for You

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Those of us who live with anxiety often come to associate it with a number of names. Names like, “monster,” “nuisance,” “burden” and “pain” are a few popular options. But for illustrator Serena Mercado, anxiety feels more like an overprotective friend — well-intentioned but sometimes misguided.

“I think something that so often makes anxiety worse is when it’s viewed as something that’s out to get you, or something that can be ignored [until it goes] away,” Mercado told The Mighty. “I definitely used to see it that way, but over time I’ve realized it’s a part of me, and that this ‘overprotective friend’ in my head is going to come with me wherever I go, whether I like it or not.”

To better explain how her anxiety is like an overprotective friend, Mercado created a comic called, “My anxiety is overprotective.” You can view it below.

In the comic, we see Mercado struggle with her anxiety over what to wear. In the first frame, she’s dressed in six different colorful outfits saying, “I have so many fun things I would love to wear.” In the next two frames, her anxiety tries to convince her to wear all black. By the end of the comic, Mercado persuades her anxiety to let her wear a bold, colorful outfit.

Mercado hopes her comic will help people understand that learning to live with anxiety doesn’t have to feel hopeless.

“My biggest hope is that maybe somebody else out there who hasn’t been exposed to more positive ways of existing alongside their anxiety can walk away with a different perspective, and hopefully treat themselves with a little more kindness in the future,” she said. “I wanted people to see that the days I choose to treat myself with compassion and compromise with my anxiety rather than demonizing it are often the days I cope with it the best!”

When you’re struggling with mental illness, it can be easy to get down on yourself. If you struggle with being kind to yourself, you’re not alone. Practice cultivating an attitude of gentleness. A great rule of thumb is to treat yourself the way you would treat a loved one who is going through a rough time.

For anyone struggling with anxiety, Mercado has a word of encouragement to offer:

Your anxiety is not a problem that needs to be fixed. It’s a part of who you are, and sometimes acknowledging that it’s gonna come along for the ride, and taking a second to try and understand where these thoughts in your head are coming from can go a long way.

Coping with anxiety can be complex. Whether you choose to view anxiety as an overprotective friend like Mercado, or a “monster” to contend with, find what works best for you and go with it. If you’re looking to connect with other anxiety warriors who really “get it,” feel free to post a Thought or Question on The Mighty with the hashtag #Anxiety. Whatever you’re facing today, you never have to go through it alone.

For more anxiety stories from our community, check out the following:

Originally published: October 22, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home