Type: Resource:

Recognising, Acknowledging And Negotiating With Anxiety

A guest resource written by Nirupama V
Recognising, Acknowledging And Negotiating With Anxiety image
This is a guest story written by Nirupama, a research and communications professional who’s passionate about mental health.

Hi. Did you not know that Anxiety is a killer?

What a dainty name she has, and a chatty persona. But she eats me up from the inside. She grows as she feeds on me; from being a slender shadow lurking behind the folds of my brain to becoming an alter-ego who takes over in my place when things get tough. As I grow weaker, this hostile takeover unfolds even when things aren’t that tough perhaps they’re just loud. Anxiety has sharp ears, you see. She catches every little crack, and some that are yet to be sounded. She observes more keenly than an elderly uncle sitting alone in the park. And what she sees and hears, she amplifies and projects to me an expert story peddler that she is. While drowning my senses in this cacophony, she takes over.

When she takes over, I lose myself for a few moments. The parts of me that are not her disappear in a snap.
But my insides fight back, despite their weak knees and muscles fatigued from constantly being curled up, stiff and uneasy; despite the short breaths that are drawing just enough oxygen to sustain. This is not a glorious fight like the ones that you see in movies. In fact, this makes me wonder how any fight can be glorious. But that’s for later.

Just like my rambly train of thought, this internal fight that I have with anxiety is also a twisted and messy affair. The helplessness and confusion I feel about it implodes into me and bubbles up, constricting my throat. Even air needs to be gulped down with effort.

There is little I can be sure of when I’m living with her. I realize that my perpetually sweaty palms that cant hold onto anything, and sweaty feet that make it impossible to get a grip on any surface are a wicked allegory to my uncertain life.

By draining me with these internal battles every day, Anxiety ensures that I cant accept external help. PLEASE LEAVE I scream to well-meaning people around me. The faint voice inside me that says Yes, I need help is swiftly countered with But you don’t even know if or how they can help you. How can you expect someone else to understand what you don’t.

By this point, I cant differentiate between her voice and mine. I give up, resolving to fight my own battles.
This singular voice then grows louder, and tells me things I think I had known all along: You are insufficient; you are a burden; you are the epitome of mediocrity; there’s nothing you are good at; there’s no one who genuinely likes you, you should be invisible; you are a terrible person; you should be ashamed of all your privilege; you make no difference to the world; you are unhealthy; you are dying; humanity is dead; the planet is dying; there’s no point to anything, why don’t you die?

These chants ring in my ears every day until I have become deaf to those around me saying reassuring words. Usually, they become background chatter and get filtered out.

But every once in a while, something a friend says breaks into my trance, like a patronus throwing off dementors which are sucking the life out of a person.

Patronus charms are odd you have to remember the happiest moments of your life when you’re facing an agent of death it takes all your will to do that. Many times, you’d simply succumb. But thankfully, my Anxiety is not as hasty as a dementor, and likes to devour me slowly.

So I’m practicing my patronus, with the help of mental health professionals: to ground myself when she is taking over, to question her fallacies when she whispers into my ear, and to accept help on some days. Ive learnt that this imps powers wane when she is confronted, listened to and reasoned with.

I don’t know if I will ever completely get rid of Anxiety. She has been inside me for so long, perhaps a dearly held souvenir from childhood when my anxious mother brought me up. But I try to not let her run amok. While I may fail on some days, I gain a new lease of life on the days I succeed to tame her.

Did you know that Anxiety is a killer?

But I’m becoming better at taming her, clammy hands and all.

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