The False Face Of Anxiety

The False Face Of Anxiety

My anxiety is real, but the lies it tells me are not.

My anxiety usually manifests itself in dizzy spells and nausea, tingling in my fingers, swimming vision, a pulsing headache. It usually comes with an overwhelming sense of insecurity and panic. I feel like I’m falling, but there is no ground to ever end the aching rush of the drop.

My anxiety twists the way I think. It takes my thoughts and overshadows them with doubts. It inserts ideas and feelings that aren’t mine. Anxiety lies. It tells me things like you’re not smart enough, you don’t deserve this, you’re an inconvenience, you’re going to fail no matter how hard you try. It teaches me to believe them, too. It takes those planted thoughts and alters my perception of reality, so I think other people have those thoughts about me too.

My anxiety has many triggers. Sometimes it’s an overcrowded room or sudden, loud noises in a confined space, like yelling or even laughter. Sometimes it’s looking at a list and counting all the things I have to do and how little time I have to do them. Sometimes it’s too much caffeine or not enough sleep. Sometimes it’s not anything I can pinpoint, just an inexplicable panic seeping into my muscles, my bones, my brain and my heart.

My anxiety is like a demon sitting on my shoulder, digging its poisonous, needle-sharp claws into the safe places of my heart and mind. It turns my reality into a maze of second guesses and sudden drops. It gives me a false face, a face that hides the panic behind a calm, “I’m fine.” My version of fighting back is ignoring the claws and ever whispering voice of that demon, internalizing it, not letting anyone else see the battle going on in my head. I put up walls and moats and fortresses, villages, cities, kingdoms, just to protect my vulnerability. It doesn’t really work. Anxiety and all it’s physical manifestations cannot be easily ignored. But I’m learning that is okay. It’s okay to panic. It’s okay to let people see that I’m not fine. It’s even better to fight it by facing it, by not retreating, by looking that demon in the face and saying “I see you and I know you, but you can’t hurt me.”

My anxiety is not my definition. As much as it tries to, it does not control me. It’s certainly a battle, but it’s not a war. It’s a vicious, exhausting cycle, but it’s not an unbreakable one. It’s a demon, but I have God. I can fight it. I will fight it. My anxiety fixates on a false, albeit believable, reality. So when I start to panic, I fixate on truth, on things I know and trust. I am loved. I am loved by my friends, and my family, and my God, who is far greater than all my insecurities. That may not feel true in that one moment, but that’s okay because I can see that it’s true through every moment of my life. I focus on each slow breath—in through the mouth, out through the nose, in through the nose, out through the mouth. I make lists and plan and break things down into manageable portions. I minimize the overwhelming. My anxiety is not my definition. My God is my definition. My family, my friends, my love of books and writing and dogs and nature—those are my definitions. My anxiety is real, but the false face it wants me to believe is certainly not.

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

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Dear Anxiety, Thank You For Everything You Do And What You Make Me Do

My anxiety definitely isn't an easy thing to handle, but I wouldn't give it up for the world.


I've always been a worrier. As long as I can remember, I've spent hours upon hours overthinking even the simplest of things, like whether or not something I mentioned in passing twelve years ago could have upset someone. Even ask my mom, she'll tell you all about the times I used to worry about silly little things since I was able to really worry about things at all. Now, worrying about literally everything that crosses my mind may seem like a hassle, and it is, but I truly don't think I would be where I am today without it.

Anxiety is a bitch. There, I said it. Short and sweet. It sucks, in all honesty, and is one of the hardest things to overcome that I have ever experienced in my lifetime (Not that it's been all that long, but you get what I mean here, right?) I spend so much time worrying that I barely take the time to sit back and look at how much I have accomplished rather than how much I have left to do. For example, I have four assignments and exams standing between me and summer but am I focusing on how little that is to do? Nope. I am spending every waking hour panicking about when and how I'm going to finish that work when I know full well that I have more than enough time to do so.

Yes, my anxiety keeps me from seeing the positives sometimes, but it really does motivate me. I mean, why else would I be up at three in the morning writing a paper that's due in a week when I work at 7 a.m. and have more than enough time in the next week to do it? Thanks to anxiety, I'll be exhausted for the next 24 hours, but hey, that work that doesn't need to be done for a long time is done and I can sleep later. Or so I think right now. I'm sure some little assignment or task will pop up that I have to finish by June that I feel the need to cram for right now.

So I guess this is my thank you to my anxiety. Thanks for motivating me by causing daily breakdowns over dropping a bobby pin behind my mini fridge or a page long paper that I have to turn in in two months. Thank you for keeping me on my toes constantly and pushing me so hard that I somehow ended up so far ahead in my classes. Where would I be without you? Probably a lot calmer, but with piles of assignments to finish at an appropriate time.

Thanks for everything you do - and make me do.

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