Dear Mr. Anxiety,
Do you know how it feels to sit in the middle of a classroom, worried that everyone behind you gapes at your back instead of the board? Look at how she bends over the desk, like a hunchback, her stomach scrunching over her thighs. Do you know what it’s like to scurry through the hallways, a place where you’re supposed to be just another face in the crowd, but it feels like everyone is looking right at yours? Why is she in such a hurry, why’s her head bowed so far forward? Nerd, why’s she so eager to get to class? When speaking in front of a group, do you feel like a sculpture on display, like your audience studies your clothes, your movements, your expressions, more than what you have to share? What is she wearing, why are her knees shaking? Is she still droning on about this? Ha, her shirt’s so tight on her you can see her bra. Is your world a battlefield, strangers the soldiers and scrutiny their swords, slashing through you with their cold stares (or the sheer possibility of them)?
They’re going to look up, they’re going to see, ouch I just tripped, I can feel my heart in my stomach, pounding, pounding, they can hear it, they know they know that I’m afraid to say more than two words, they know how pathetic I am.
This string of thoughts, this parade of pain, doesn’t march through your mind. No, you live up in your skyscraper, high and mighty and unharmed. The world is more like a playground for you, swings sets and monkey bars constructed of innocent people’s insecurities and worries. You’re the unjustified bully in the sweatshirt, and I’m the girl with the pigtails, cowering under the slide, hoping and praying that you won’t attack her today.
You’re the puppet master of all of your victims. We live at your mercy, and bend to your will. You tug and pull at our strings, kick our hearts into unhealthy rhythms, cackle at us from behind the scenes.
But we aren’t your victims, are we? We shouldn’t be, at least. We shouldn’t feel abused by our own minds. We shouldn’t have to cower in the corner of the playground, too frightened to join the fun. You’re not half as brave as we are, you only pick and prod at the things we most fear. But it’s about time that we are able to come out into the open, and if not rid ourselves of our fears, then at least keep you from using them against our will. You may live in your skyscraper, but you are not untouchable, and when we make our way through the battlefield, we will make our way to you, too. Don’t think you’ve got us, me, under your thumb so easily. You are not unbeatable; it only takes the time and patience of a true warrior, like all of us.
© MPH 2015
About the author:
Since middle school, I have struggled with feelings of anxiety, especially social anxiety. For years, and on a daily basis, I blindly battled my anxiety, unaware that there were others experiencing the same thing. Though I now understand why I panic in social situations, it is still a challenge every day not to worry about the slightest glance or word thrown my way in public. Through writing and talking about it, I hold out hope that it will improve. I am an avid writer. I live at the mercy of my many dreams, including moving to a big city to be a publisher, moving to the Appalachian Mountains to become a hiker, and making a difference any way I can.
Blog: The Tarnished Mirror
“The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell.” It’s Time, Imagine Dragons
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Please, if your life is impacted by mental illness help spread awareness and understanding by writing to that illness and sharing it at Letters of the Mind blog project.