from anxiety to mindfulness

Meet: The anxiety monster

Anxiety monster

I stumbled upon this little fella recently, a portrait of the Anxiety Monster by Toby Allen.

I can now put a face to the name of the hideous monster that has been following me everywhere for over a decade. I say “little fella”, but he has the ability to be all consuming, filling my head with his insidious words until they are all I can hear, and all I can believe. The clock that he’s carrying serves as a permanent reminder that even in the good moments, it’s only a matter of time until the next wave of panic sets in…

He is often seen as “weak” in comparison to the other monsters, and don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t swap him for any of his so called friends (depression, schizophrenia, paranoia…), but trust me, he’s as much as I can handle. Anxiety sounds like you’re a bit of a worrier, but then aren’t we all? “Anxiety” doesn’t portray the physical and mental feelings of absolute dread and terror that accompany this monster wherever he goes. The vicious circle of avoidance and failure can feel impossible to break, the more we fear, the more we avoid, the more we fail, the smaller and smaller our comfort zone gets until, well, there’s nothing left.

Sounds pretty bleak doesn’t it? But that’s where Silver Linings Project comes in, and I want to share my journey with you.  I found that this little monster feeds on fear, and grows stronger the more frightened we become. We try to lock him away. pretend he’s not there, hope he won’t notice us, while all the time living in the grip of fear of him rearing his ugly head.

But…he can be tamed. I now think of him as a small frightened child, dressing up in wolves’ clothing to try and fool us. All he really needs is to be understood. While he tries to warn us of anything (and everything) that might be too scary for us to handle, we can learn to choose which bits to pay attention to (e.g. stepping too close to the edge of a cliff), and which bits to dismiss (e.g. for me – the work Christmas party).

Please read, comment, and join me in learning to tame this frightened little monster…

This little monster

I’ve learnt that instead of trying to lock him away and hope that he never breaks free (which he always does), instead grow big and strong. , because it is possible to nurture this little Gremlin with mindfulness, love and positivity until he’s much less scary.  that He still likes to test me , to keep me on my toes, and keep me safe from what he sees as potential harm.

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13 Responses to “Meet: The anxiety monster”

  1. Mummy Kindness

    Hi Amy. Congratulations on your fantastic new blog! What you’re doing is amazing, inspirational and above all very brave. I know first hand how hard it is to put yourself and your thoughts “out there” in to the blogosphere. It’s my experience that blogging is a hugely therapeutic pastime which has the added advantage of helping lots of other people know that they’re not alone. Really looking forward to reading lots more from you!

    Rachel x

    Reply
  2. silverliningsproject

    Thank you so much, your words mean a lot. You’re absolutely right, it is hard to be so truthful after so much time and effort spent trying to hide it all from the world, but it feels like a weight has been lifted and I have been pleasantly surprised by how supportive and understanding people have been.

    I’m now heading over to have a read of your blog, looking good 😉
    Amy x

    Reply
  3. Gazpants

    Loving this blog my chum. Am I permitted to share it on FB or is this for the select few only? And me?! X

    Reply
  4. Mindfulness: week one | SILVER LININGS PROJECT

    […] All these thoughts can happen in the blink of an eye. The trick for me is to notice the first thought, e.g. “You’re feeling a bit jittery”, and then stop and ask whether this is true, and why this really might be. It could be that you’re tired, had too much caffeine, had too little caffeine… (And I’ve written my thoughts in the third person because these aren’t my thoughts, they are the whisperings of the anxiety monster). […]

    Reply
  5. Linda @ Notes from the arena

    Hello Amy!
    thanks for the link to the anxiety monster and the others too. I feel the same about my inner critics, the voices that tell me I’m no good. I’m working on becoming aware of them, talking to them, so they become smaller, and less audible.
    Well done for coming clean on Facebook, that’s a huge step. Wishing you all the best. Love this blog by the way! 🙂

    Reply
  6. silverliningsproject

    HI Linda 🙂
    Thank you so much, every comment I get is amazing as I had feared that the only person reading this would be me. Oops, there goes another one of those negative voices! At least I’m now catching them faster, and treating them with the disrespect they deserve. I can’t wait to share your blog with everyone, and how much it has inspired me x

    Reply
  7. SILVER LININGS PROJECT

    […] just enjoy the company and conversation without thinking ahead with “what ifs” (the old anxiety monster than whispers in my ear). And it worked! And I enjoyed it! The next challenge is that we have been […]

    Reply
    • silverliningsproject

      I hadn’t, thank you for the link. I haven’t read to the end yet but I can really empathise with this person, the fear of fear, of being sick, of being trapped in a situation. Thank you!

      Reply
  8. Me, social anxiety, and a little night out (the counselling) | Silver Linings Project

    […] Back to the counselling. Through these sessions I have started to build up my belief in myself, to trust myself a little bit more. Previously, only staying out for an hour or so would mean I’d failed – I’d failed to stay out all night like “normal people” (to be honest, knowing I might only cope with an hour would mean I wouldn’t go out at all). Now I see the positives – just going out at all is a huge improvement, an improvement that can be built on gradually, in my own time. I try and give myself the encouragement that I would give a friend, instead of letting my harsh inner critic take over (that bloomin’ anxiety monster). […]

    Reply

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