You remember the monster from under your bed from when you were a child? The one that you were so sure was there but whenever your parents would look it suddenly disappeared? And as soon as they walked away, it was back to taunt you and keep you awake for seemingly all night with fear.

Now I know that monsters aren’t real in the physical sense, but let me tell you, living with anxiety really feels like you’re being haunted.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Kylie, quit being so dramatic, we all get a little worried sometimes.” But that’s not what I’m talking about.

We throw the word anxiety around so much that it’s beginning to lose all meaning. I’d go so far as to say that stress is glorified in today’s world.

But you’ll never catch anyone with an anxiety disorder bragging about how worried they are, and how much they have on their plate. And let me tell you why.

My anxiety is my biggest bully. It’s the monster from under my bed, but it’s with me all the time—always lurking in the back of my mind.

It whispers in my ear, a constant nagging that never goes away.

It’s not that I can’t handle criticism, it’s that I’m the first and the only one to put myself down.

It turns me against myself.

It tells me you hate me.

That for some reason I’ve done something to annoy you. That I’m an annoying person.

That you’ve moved on and no longer are interested in me.

How could I have been so stupid to think you were interested in the first place?

I can hear it laughing whenever I start to feel the slightest bit confident in myself. “You think they actually want to be your friends? Just you wait, it won’t last long.”

And just like that, one insecurity spirals into the oh-so-familiar pit of worries. One concern leading to a larger worry and a larger one, until I can’t take it and eventually I’m pacing back and forth. My body is shaking, and I can’t recognize my voice when I snap at my family that I’m fine.

It creates a monster out of me, a reflection of itself.

My heart rate slows and my muscles relax. He’s gone.

He hides for a while, but his job is far from done.

I can see him in the stressors around me. The food I don’t want to eat, the fear of rejection, not being good enough, and the feeling of being forgotten.

Anxiety never goes away. It’s something I deal with on a daily basis. Some days are better and some are worse.

But there’s always an upside, I suppose. I’ve hit rock-bottom, and I know I’m never going to let myself slip so far again.

Never again will I contemplate suicide or cry looking in the mirror. I’ve learned that my anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed of, and I don’t have to hide it.

Those who love you will accept you and embrace your imperfections, including the monsters you carry with you.