Guest post: The monster that is anxiety

The following is a guest post written by Tiffany from the blog Ethereal Empathy.

When I was little I made friends with a monster.  She kept me company wherever I went, stayed with me as I grew, and often showed up when I needed a friend the most.  Even though she validated my feelings, was reliable, and was always there for me… it wasn’t healthy.  The truth of the matter was, this monster wanted to keep me for herself.  The only feelings she confirmed were those of fear, and her company never made me feel good about myself.

My monster friend kept me awake at night with her chatter, and convinced me to stay home when other friends invited me out.  She stripped me of my self-worth and confidence, and reminded me of how different I was from everyone else.  In that loneliness I accepted this monster, which we refer to as Anxiety.  After all, she appeared to know me so well. 

Perhaps I clung to Anxiety because she was familiar, or maybe it was because she wasn’t all bad, all the time.  This little monster helped me see potential threats and kept me aware.  The deep understanding of fear, that I had developed, helped me to relate with individuals who suffered similar stress. Still, I had become a prisoner of fear with no boundaries to keep my monster at bay.

“Without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light nothing flowers.” – May Sarton

It was in my self-doubt that Anxiety held me captive.  I had trained my brain to jump to worse case scenarios and to see the prospective negatives of any given situation. Overwhelmed by uncertainty, and my lack of ability to concentrate, relax, or find calm, I struggled with each day.

My body had turned on me, with symptoms of illness, without ever having been truly sick.  Unexplainable pains and tension would come and go as they pleased.  There was no balance or predictability in the waves that rose and fell, and often times came upon me with no warning or explanation. 

Having a panic attack is much like swimming in deep waters during a storm.  It takes everything you are to keep your head above water, and sometime you get hit by the turbulent ocean which pulls you under.  It is a fight for air, for continued existence. 

I could not see what it looked like to thrive when my constant state of panic made basic survival a challenge.  The very thought of working as a productive member of society seemed impossible.  I looked into the dark chasm of the unknown, unable to find the light.  I saw consequence of failure instead of the potential growth that comes with experience.

Instead of trusting in my own capabilities I sought out healers and trusted individuals to fix me, but there was no cure for this.  No instant solution to repair the broken parts of myself.  Medication only numbed my soul, taking more away without giving enough of myself back.  Therapists were a constant reminder that to be whole I needed to dig deep to find answers within. 

How could I mend the fragmented pieces of me when I was incapable of believing in my own worth?  I couldn’t.  My monster never lied, exactly.  We all have a balance of light and dark inside of ourselves.  Where there is the potential for disaster there is also the potential for success.  What I hadn’t been able to see was the strength in both.

I would be naïve to believe that there are those out there without flaws. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time.  When dark times are upon us, and it feels as if they might destroy everything, we find that we are more resilient than we might think.  Living in the shadows of fear makes it hard to see.  Feeling as if we are alone is an illusion.     

Turns out the cost of not taking risks, and not believing in our own natural gifts, is much higher than the upward climb of facing the monster.  If the choice is to succumb to a life of worry and suffer a stagnant existence, or to battle a life gripped by fear for the chance of actually living…  I choose to face the unknown. 

Anxiety is not a true friend, but it is not my enemy either.  This alter ego, my anxious self, is debilitating but only has power if I give it.  I can use it as a crutch or I can learn her moods and motives, triggers and tastes, in order to respond appropriately.  What is so easy to forget is that we have the power to change the world, starting with our own being.

So I learned to consistently make course corrections along an unpredictable path.  Staying ahead of the waves when possible and bringing along a life preserve just in case the waters get the best of me.  Most importantly I discovered the importance of second guessing my own self-doubt. 

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

The path is hard.  There are times I slip and fall, get scraped up along the way, have setbacks and face detours… but I keep moving forward.  That steep cliff edge that I started on has gotten easier, the journey less rocky.  Somewhere along the way I learned to trust myself and accept that I am capable and deserving of so much more.

Anxiety is still with me, she is my twin who is just looking out for my well-being and here to protect me.  Although misguided her intentions are good.  I accept her for what she is even though she cannot see the error of her ways.  It is my job to not let her define me or keep me from the life I deserve.

It is through this understanding that the light began to seep through and point me in a direction of confidence.  I found my balance and overcame obstacles I never thought possible before.  Instead of struggling each day to survive I learned how to thrive, to have a life that is mine, and meet my fears wisely. 

Anxiety is a sheep in wolf’s clothing, an innocent wearing the mask of a monster.  Although frightening she doesn’t decide your fate.  Her power over you is limited and only exasperated by your own insecurity.  Believe in yourself, trust your own intuition, and the gray clouds looming over will clear. 

There is hope, I am proof of that. 

“On particularly rough days, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.”  – Unknown

Thank you to Tiffany from Ethereal Empathy for contributing such a thoughtful and honest post to #MillennialLifeCrisis. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend checking out Tiffany’s Blog. She is a ray of kindness and honesty in this crazy world and she brings a unique perspective to the blogging community that is the truest definition of one-of-a-kind.

56 thoughts on “Guest post: The monster that is anxiety

  1. I really enjoyed her unique perspective on anxiety and overcoming it in order to hear and feel your soul. Thank you for sharing this V and I am now following her 2😉❤👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Same! When I am able to find someone who can do clearly articulate their thoughts and feelings it means a lot. It makes me feel less alone. And Tiffany always seems to do a great job of making me feel less alone.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Such kind words for you to share. I’m glad that other people are resonating with Tiffany’s words like I did the first time I read them. I hope you are safe and healthy, my dear.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s very relatable. I remember when I first read it I thought ‘dang, I feel so much less alone’. Not that I want others to feel this. But anxiety, it affects so many, it’s nice to see it put into words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your blogs are amazing, and I follow you both. Regarding anxiety, Tiffany is not alone. (Boy, do I have stories.) During one episode, the key was to accept that I could not control all aspects of my life. I could try, but total control of everything is impossible. The one bit that I could not control was extraordinarily vital and fragile; the knowledge that something so important was up to someone else wrecked my nerves. I can’t stand the feeling of helplessness!. Whether we want to admit it or not, I believe everyone has suffered from it at one point or another. And for many like Tiffany (and I, to a degree), anxiety is a recurring and wholly unwanted visitor.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Kieth! You are so right, that is such a difficult aspect of anxiety. By nature we tend to want to control what is happening around us, but control is an illusion. I began to heal when I started to learn to let go and trust in something bigger than myself. I hate feeling helpless too, it is a terrible feeling. Thankfully with reoccurring anxiety I know that the lows will pass, because they always do. 🙂

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  3. I understand anxiety too. It can be limiting and difficult to overcome. As we get older, it seems to worsen I think. Younger people are quick on their feet with thinking and learning new things. The old adage about can’t teach an old dog new tricks…….sometimes I feel this at work lol. I gotta remind myself to try to step out of my comfort zone despite the fear of failure. Failure is a key part of learning. This was well written and articulated. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! As we move forward new and more complex changes cause added weight and strain on our fragile understanding of the world. The unknown is scary, a key trigger of fear. Over time certain aspects of growing older can put as at a disadvantage. This is a natural part of growth. At the same time you become more capable and stronger in other ways. Experience gives you wisdom and understanding. You recognize things that the younger generation is likely to miss. As change reshapes the way we do things, something gets lost in the mix, something still of value. You have so much to offer. The world needs varying perspectives, it helps us evolve but keeps us from losing values and repeating mistakes. Never forget your worth. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s so true what you say – kids, when they don’t know any better, they can ‘bounce back’ a little bit easier. And when you’re younger, sometimes it can be easier to deal with. Sometimes just being 30 and thinking ‘why is this still affecting me’ is the kind of thinking that’s enough to get the better of you. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and past those fears is soooo important.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post V and Tiffany. Thoughtful and insightful, evoked memories of days gone by when I was crippled with anxiety. Oh my word, I never want to be back there. And I’m glad you came through too Tiffany. Caz x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Caz 🙂 I am so glad you came through it and are in such a better place now. I can certainly relate. I like your choice of word, crippled. That is exactly how I felt. I wanted so much to do more, be more, and grow… but I didn’t work right. Healing was slow but I found my way. What did you find helped you the most on your journey?

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      1. That is how it feels eh? Crippled. And I’m so glad I’ve got past that. I think for me Tiffany, as a lone parent to 2 young teenage sons, I had to get better – I didn’t want them to be affected by it. I’d got to the stage I was avoiding places with the boys like the cinema (I hated the dark), the swimming pool (I hated the steep steps) I hated going down the tube stations etc but I had to get the boys to their various activities. I needed and wanted to get better and with the help of an amazing counsellor, I got through it. I still get anxious at times but then so does everyone else, so it’s the normal kind of anxious 🙂 Caz x

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh god I remember how that feels all too well. I used to be terrified to go places. It’s crazy how someone can take so much affect over you.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. This insight is really helpful to me. It’s good to have a more positive way to look at anxiety. It certainly stays with us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad to read this. Tiffany’s words really struck a chord with me when I read them so I’m really happy to hear that I wasn’t the only one they had an impact on.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. By the way anyone who wants to follow me, my blog is The Hermits’ Rest. A business blog always comes up first.

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    1. I agree. We’re not alone in this, we’ve just been conditioned to think that we need to keep our struggles to ourselves. And that, it’s definitely not the truth and it’s definitely not doing any of us any favours….

      Liked by 1 person

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