I grew up thinking I was different than everyone around me. I never had the courage to be outgoing; I always gave up without even trying because of some underlying fear that I could never rationalize, and I feared solitude because anxiety always got the best of me during those quiet moments. I had this thing called “anxiety” and was convinced that I was different, and that being different was a bad thing. That’s what living with anxiety like and although I can now proudly say that ‘ I am no longer consumed by my mental illness,” it took me a long time to get here.
Hello, my name is Jasmine Rouser and this is my story on what living with anxiety is like.
Dear Anxiety, My Ill-Fated Companion
I knew you long before I ever loved another and even before I learned to love myself. Your voice entangled in my subconscious so familiar I never knew where you ended and where I began. We fit together in perfect harmonic chaos for so many years. You scared me away from exploration but saved me from mindless curiosities, keeping me safe by overwhelming me with doubt, “Don’t get in that car; don’t swallow too many of those; don’t say that; don’t do that; don’t go there.”
With the same tone of doubt you stifled my creativity and imagination. “You won’t win; you’re not good enough, why even try?” As I grew, you did as well, feeding off my insecurities. “Your feet are too big! Cover them up or someone will see how ugly you are! You’re not as pretty as the other girls. You are not good enough!”
You were so ingrained in me that I trusted you more than the realities in front of me – “You will never love. No one will ever love you.” Your hold was a smothering comfort, shackling me in fear and stealing my breath with pounding heartbeats, blurry vision, shaky hands and trembling feet. I stumbled through life afraid of being seen or heard because I allowed you to overwhelm my senses leaving me mentally and emotionally in darkness.
I swam in an ocean of self-doubt and fear for years upon years waiting for your voice to turn away from the critical and fill me with calm and ease. Sun would rise and the moon would fall, and I waited and longed for love to grow in the darkness we shared. I allowed you to rule and stamp out my light and draw me deeper in to the darkness, a place I both loathed and loved.
When I felt alone and ignored, your voice was a constant never neglecting to fill my mind with obscurities, and mistrust of myself. I would lay alone in my closet and hear the constant hum of your voice closer to me than my own. I didn’t know your name for many years but grew to know you well. You, anxiety, are my ill-fated companion!
You are the creator of discourse; the bringer of earthquake-sized trembles trapped inside my chests; you are geysers erupting on full moons flowing only from my tears, and silent screams falling on deaf ears. I carried you deep in the most unexplored part of my being, but you betrayed my body, weakening me from inside out. I had to fight, to be strong and drown you out.
I call out your name to expose you to the light of day and loosen the deathly grip you have on me. I bested you in combat but you still persist duelling for control over my emotions, rearing your head every chance you get.
Honestly, I find no solace in the silence you leave, phantom pains of your presence haunting my dreams. I do not trust the silence; the freedom I gain without you is still unfamiliar, the light that shines inside is beautiful and bright but my eyes are still adjusting. I ask who am I without you, maybe a little less afraid but not fearless, a little crooked but not broken. I do not mourn your presence because we were meant to be star crossed lovers, caught in a tug of war, a world wind tornado.
But today, I unwind myself from your grasp and I say farewell. I can see the horizon near, I feel my spirit awakening renewed and the voids your voice left will be filled with love joy and laughter.
Farewell my ill-fated companion,
I hope that by hearing my story on what living with anxiety is like, other sufferers out there are able to find the strength to break free of their ill-fated companion.