Though I’ve had anxiety for most of my life it’s not until the past 7-8 years that I’ve really begun to really suffer from it.
Four years ago was when it all really started for me, it was within this time that I became ever more isolated with anxiety taking its full control, from things like job interviews to daily walks into town I began to figure this is me this is how I am.
Along with this stress crept in too, again I figured this was just me being me.
From being overly stressed anxious/nervous in public places or even at home, this is the way life went for me for what seemed a lifetime.
Then at the beginning of this year I couldn’t handle the pressure being put on me anymore I quit job hunting, and for those months of doing gloriously nothing, it re-surged in probably its worst way, I gave in and started taking medication to handle it and am now on my third course of CBT this time intensive CBT and I can feel it starting to help and I started to realize there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
In terms of perhaps not completely not getting rid of it but instead I picture myself facing the goblin with a shotgun and seriously wounding it (I look forward to this day and what a picture it will be!).
This is Lewis Bull saying I will not let this control the rest of my life!
I’m 23 years old, as child I had a moderate learning difficulty and went to a school for those who suffer from moderate to severe learning disabilities.
As my anxiety worsened I stopped attending family occasions (though I thought it was perfectly natural but instead later realised it was my anxiety), never have I indulged in typical teenage behaviour e.g. drinking or even just hanging out with friends instead I remained in anxiety imposed solitude.
After I finished 3 years of college, the first immediate thought was to find work, there in started my long battle with stress and anxiety, though I’ve always suffered from stress and anxiety it was in my later teenage years that it really became relevant, It was in the middle of this year that things started to change from seeing family who understand and sympathise with my issues and finding new friends who themselves suffer from anxiety and stress.
I hate you for taking over me
and making me believe this is how I want to be.
Why do I stay with you when all you do is put me down?
make me starve ’til I fit into the smallest gown,
with the loss of each gram I’m closer to my goal,
with your grip tightening over my dark soul.
Filled with fear at every bite I take,
your plan, my plan, would be ruined by cake.
Counting calories, and fearing how much I weigh
I am beginning to feel like you are here to stay.
My reflection has become something I fear,
I dread the time I have to look in the mirror.
The pain in my stomach never goes away,
it grumbles with hunger while in bed I lay.
You tell me you are my only true friend
and make me fear the day this relationship must end,
but I know your presence is here for a while,
so I hide this relationship behind a smile.
Dear eating disorder I know you are wrong,
but how can you make me feel this strong?
My name is Rosie, I am 18 years old and from the UK. I suffer from a variety of mental illnesses however this poem is focused particularly on my anorexia which I have suffered with for many years and has led me to numerous inpatient admissions. During my lows, my highs and my admissions, I have found poetry a really positive and productive thing and it has helped me to make sense of some of the chaos in my head.
My favorite quote is one from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and it is:
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will” – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
I like this quote because sometimes mental illness’ can make you feel trapped but it is important to remember you have the power, potential and the ability to be free.
When I first met you, I was just a child. You terrorized me with panic attacks and wouldn’t leave me alone. It was bad enough you entered my life. It was much worse when you visited my nine year old daughter. Picking on children. How dare you!
I think you got pleasure out of watching, as you overwhelmed us with the horrifying symptoms of panic.
Did you think it was funny to see our hands tremble and our bodies sweat, drenched in fear?
Did you get enjoyment out of making our hearts beat so hard and fast, it felt like they’d jump out of our chests?
Were you pleased when my doctor told me I had agoraphobia?
Did you laugh when I had to pull over to the side of the road because my vision was blacking out?
You probably thought it was hilarious when I nearly had to run out of a store because I couldn’t stop my racing heart and dizziness. Didn’t you?
Were you happy when my daughter had to miss three weeks of fourth grade because she was petrified she’d have a panic attack?
Did you want her friends to know how ashamed she was to be different?
Was it fun to see my little girl cry when she couldn’t make herself walk into the classroom, in fear of you?
What about when you saw me cry because I knew how terrified my daughter was?
You always wanted to be in control. And you were.
But not anymore!
I’m sure you were unhappy when I reached out for medical help, after twenty years of dealing with you.
I bet you were mad when I recognized my daughter’s symptoms and took her to the doctor.
I’m sure you weren’t thrilled when our medication worked. I wasn’t afraid to drive anymore. Or go to the grocery store, the mall, or the movies. My little girl went back to school. She was able to play basketball, be with her friends, and even go to sleepovers.
We learned how to get rid of you. Our doctors helped us develop ways to control you. We’re healthy and happy now. Our lives are full and productive.
I’ve had panic attacks since I was a child. I didn’t reach out for medical help until my early 30s. I was diagnosed with panic disorder and agoraphobia. I truly thought I was alone, and that no one else experienced the same scary symptoms that I did. I soon realized there are millions of others with anxiety. My daughter started showing signs of panic attacks when she was nine years old. She’s twenty now, and both of us are nearly panic free. I hope to motivate others who are dealing with anxiety and mental illness.
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.
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.
I shouldn’t even be spending my time, energy, and talent on you right now but it’s time we get something straight. You’ve been trying your hardest for a while now to drag me down, but as you can see, I’m not giving up. I’m kind, talented, loving, and worth a lot more than to be controlled by you. I want to be a writer, I want to help people, and I don’t want to be afraid to live my life. You’ve stopped me from enjoying doing certain things and even stopped me from doing things altogether, but NO MORE! I know that I won’t get cured overnight, but that’s not going to stop me from proving to myself that I’m stronger than you. Because you know what? I AM!
I’ve accomplished so much in my life, even with you trying to stop me. In high school, when you tried to get to me, I pulled through. I graduated and then I went to college. You followed me there, but I still didn’t give in. I graduated. Hell, I made the Dean’s list several times. You may have caused me to take some online classes instead of going on campus at times, BUT I GOT THROUGH IT!
My life is too important to be squandered away by you. I’ve been working harder, working stronger and I’m going to defeat you! I’ve already shown myself my strength and I’m not going to back down!
You’ve tried to make me think that I’m weak and even though I’ve felt like I was, I know better. You’re a liar and you get a kick out of making people miserable, but I don’t get a kick out of it and I’m not enjoying it. So I’m going to keep showing myself that I’m stronger than you and I’m not going to let you continue to control my life. I’ve seen the damage you can do, to me and to others. However, we’re stronger than you think and we’re tired. We’re tired of you trying to take over, tired of missing out on opportunities, tired of YOU. So don’t think that we’re going to let you win, because we’re stronger. MUCH STRONGER! We’re going to continue to practice on a consistent basis, working in small steps until we reach our goal: to be free of your restraints. Whether or not you’re ready to let go of us, we’re ready to let go of you! -B.G.
About the author:
My name is B.G. and I have been struggling with anxiety for several years. I created my blog Getting Through Anxiety in order to help both myself and others who deal with similar issues. I love to write, read, and watch TV. In college I majored in English and minored in writing. I also have written some posts for The Seeds 4 Life and Battle of Mind. I hope to one day be a fiction author.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison
Wherever I go, you’re not far behind
You are the shadow cast over my mind
My face is fixed, no twitch no blink
I show no emotion, as I come back from the brink
It took me time to see through your lies
To see the truth hidden in your eyes.
I’ve made some mistakes, there’s no denying
If I claimed anything else, I’d only be lying
I’ve lived my life in black and white
There was no colour, there was no light
I can’t see where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been
I don’t want to return there and see what I’ve once seen.
My name is Matt, and I started this blog nearly two years ago now. It’s been a release from the stresses of everyday life ever since (though I’ve not always written as often as I’d like!). I suffer from both anxiety and depression, but through writing I have found comfort and friends, many of whom have their own struggles with the same illnesses. It’s a constant reminder that we are not alone and to speak out. In silence we suffer.
There’s a classic phrase that we are all familiar with, which is spoken retrospectively, and I am going to use it now.
A few years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be in my third year of university contemplating a career in Journalism, whilst trying to establish myself as a writer by writing poetry on a WordPress blog and working on three novels, one of which would be my dissertation project, I wouldn’t have believed them.
I’ve found that life has a funny way of making you realise how far you’ve come, and how amazing you can be if you just try. At one point in my life, I didn’t try at all. Well, I did, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything worthwhile. I hadn’t found my passion. There wasn’t a spark in my life that said, ‘Hey, you’re on the right path, you’re doing the right things.’ I felt like I was on the wrong path, doing things that I didn’t really want to do. This meant that I would believe I had to start all over again by taking a leap of faith. It turned out that when I leapt, I landed on the edge of the new path and it immediately felt wrong, and that’s when I realised I had to jump back.
I landed back onto the right path, which is the one I had been walking all along, without realising that I was heading towards the future meant for me.
So, where does anxiety fit into all this? My final year of college (which was in fact an extra year, because the year most people went to university, I wasn’t ready and I wanted to delay the inevitable) gave me so much stress that I got anxiety about what I was doing and where I was going. This, coupled with the fact that I thought I was a terrible friend, and then heightened by the grief I was suffering due to the loss of my Grandad, meant that I felt hollow. I was empty. I had nothing to give myself or anyone else. I was waking up miserable, wishing for a different life. I wished for change, I wanted to be a different person, a better version of myself, because who I was then didn’t feel like anyone at all. I wrote ‘I do not exist’ on a piece of paper and stuck it on my late Grandad’s corkboard.
It got to the point where I had to take a week off college to get my head around things. In my mind, I wanted to leave for good. It scares me to think where I would be if I had dropped out, but I’m grateful for the fact that I realised I needed help and I went straight to my GP and told her how I’d been feeling. Before I knew it, I was having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over the phone. I’d studied CBT in Psychology in my first year of college and suffice to say I didn’t make it to a second year. Ironically, it was too much for my mind to handle.
Gradually, I started to feel better and began seeing the world differently. It was after my therapy ended that my coping techniques really kicked in, because at that point I was out on my own. I’d got through my exams, applied to university and was awaiting the results. I knew that this was the new chapter I had been aching after. I just needed to wait a little longer.
Results Day was surreal but massively overwhelming in a good way. It was official; I would be going to Nottingham Trent University to study English with Creative Writing. I was shocked, but relieved. Shocked because it felt like a complete accident (I don’t entirely remember selecting that course, or being aware of what course I had chosen) and relieved because I knew I had, somehow, chosen the right course. I realised that I had been lucky not to ruin everything for myself. I very nearly did, but it turned out that although the last few months of college had been some of the hardest, everything happened for a reason, and everything fell into place in a way that I could only have dreamed of.
However, just because I finally felt in the right place, it doesn’t mean that my anxiety disappeared. I was managing it then, and I’m managing it now, but it still creeps in once in a while to remind me that it’s there. Some problems don’t leave or get resolved no matter how hard you try, so you stop trying and it gets worse. Until you end up with nothing at all, and that in itself is a problem. But, change your way of thinking, and you can turn your problem into a solution. I still felt like a terrible friend, but then I realised that it didn’t matter, because I know that I am a good friend. I’m reluctant to write it, but I need to reassure myself that I am a good person and a good friend to the people that love me and appreciate me, those who understand my story, and believe in me and where I am going. I realised that if I was to defeat my anxiety, I needed to overcome the source of it, and this was a losing battle. A conflicting, confusing and, at times, terrifying battle that saw my self-esteem plummet back to square one. When you look at yourself through the eyes of someone who causes you intense anxiety (shaking, sickness, worry) you begin to think that you deserve to feel that way, and that you’re trapped in an endless cycle.
Break the cycle. It’s not a case of quitting while you’re ahead, because getting ahead might not be possible, it’s a case of realising that you’re losing, and the only way you’re going to come out a winner is to let yourself get out. Do it for you, not to get ahead, or to give up, but to stay happy. If you’re sad, something needs to change. If you’re anxious, something needs to change. Until you are happy, you need to look at yourself and ask: What do you want?
I matter, you matter, we all matter, albeit in different ways and in different circumstances. You need to find that point where you know you can be peaceful; smile despite the pain that you felt, or even caused, to get there. It’s not selfish; it’s simply looking out for yourself.
I write poetry to cope with my anxiety. I talk to my anxiety and try to understand it as well as deal with it. I don’t let it get to me anymore. I rise above the pain and try to create something I can be proud of. It has shaped me into the person I am today, and when I think of my lowest points I am thankful for them. I’m thankful for everything that went wrong, and everything that went right, because if they hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here, writing these words now.
I am a good person, I am a storyteller, I am a poet.
I have friends, I have words, I have anxiety.
I have mindfulness and clarity of thought; I have peace.
Right now, I am exactly where I am, and always was, meant to be.
Jade K. Moore
EDITOR’S NOTE:Hi, it’s Memee. Jade was offered the opportunity to guest blog on my site when she won the Love’n Hate Poetry Challenge I held last month. The challenge truly inspired her and out of it came An Open Letter which personified her anxiety allowing her to recognize the growth that her disorder has gifted her which inspired her even further, prompting her to create a project entitled, Letters to the Mind blog. A blog where every one can submit creative expressions of our mental health struggles and triumphs. I am proud to be affiliated with the project as an editor and contributor on the site. I hope you will join me in participating in this brand-new, much needed, project. So, please, help spread the news. Non-bloggers and family members impacted by mental illness are encouraged to participate as well!
To read, follow or join Letters to the Mind project click here.