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…