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Anxiety Has a Name, but Her Name Isn't Mine

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Hey. I’m Ruth. I’m a pretty normal lady in my late 20s. I’m engaged to a partner I love with my whole being, and I have the most gorgeous stepdaughter in the world. I have an amazing relationship with my father. I’m beginning a very exciting career, and overall, my life looks pretty great.

But you know, looks can be deceiving.

You see, there’s this other person in my head. She is small, and petty, and insecure. She knows my deepest shortcomings and my scariest doubts. She brings me nightmares from a dark, dark place I didn’t know I had the capacity for.

She has a name.

Her name is Anxiety.

I’ve been damaged, badly, by someone I loved very much. I often say I’ve always been very delicately wired, even as a small child. But, in the last six years, my life has changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined, ways I would never have wished on anyone. I’ve faced immeasurable pain, degradation and debilitating self-doubt. I’ve walked through years of gaslighting and come out the other end, and now I need to find my way in a world that I still have trouble believing is real.

Anxiety is my closest, most reliable companion. She is also the loudest. I picture her as a small, rumpled little girl with a monster mask and a megaphone. She is constantly screaming at me that I must doubt everything and everyone. Everyone has a motive, nobody is this kind, I’ll never be good enough anyway.

Anxiety also has very sensitive hearing. She can hear the souls of every single person near me. I work in a cubicle with people all around, and I speak to clients all day, every day. Anxiety loves this, she amplifies the sound until it’s too much. It doesn’t seem possible, but when Anxiety is listening, I can hear 15 separate conversations at once — as both a roar, and individually. When Anxiety is listening, the world is so loud.

Sometimes, Anxiety makes me forget how to breathe. She’s really, very talented. She does this by making me believe my feelings are imaginary, that the things I think are real are actually an elaborate prank. I’m definitely not that talented, there’s no way people could like me that much.

She is not me – she is my brain chemistry, she is every bad dream, she is the culmination of every failure, she is every bully, she is the ex who broke me.

But I am me! I am resilient. I am smart. I am funny. I am talented. I am successful. I’m ready to love again. I’m starting a family. I have clients who tell my daily how wonderful I am at my job. I am me.

I win every day when I get out of bed and shower. I win every time I make a sale, every time I wash my dishes and eat a vegetable, every time I put on my nice make up and brush my hair, every time I kiss my precious little girl and she looks at me with the adoring gaze she reserves just for me. I win every day, every hour, every minute.

And you’re winning too. Your beast has a name too. So, give it its name. Separate it. Take away its power. Take your day a minute at a time. Be kind to yourself. You are you, you’re not that beast. You are wonderful and special.

She has a name, but her name isn’t mine. She isn’t me.

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Thinkstock photo via ruddy_ok.

Originally published: May 16, 2017
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