We all have something, leering over us, each and every one of us. For some, their monsters are people, haunting us, like ghosts. For others, it’s the weight and pressures of seemingly unachievable goals, so far out of reach you feel like you’re drowning in the depths of the blue sea. But for others, the monsters are in their mind, embedded, deep seeded and invisible to the naked eye of society, but every bit as real.
I first started struggling with mental health in high school. Engulphed in a toxic relationship through the pivotal years of my youth. Spiralling down a rabbit hole of self-deprecating behaviour, self-harm and self-hatred. Letting one person define me, control me. Letting one person rip away the entire entity of who I was and mould me into a weak, shrivelled up, empty shell of who I once was. This continued on for years. The end of the relationship unfortunately made my mental health suffer even more greatly, my anxiety took over and I began to let it consume me. Too scared to admit my struggles, too defeated to ask for help, I suffered in silence. Although many could outwardly see my struggles as I wear my emotions on my sleeves, no one knew the depths and disparity I felt. I was surrounded by people, but deeply alone.
The first time I saw an artist acknowledge mental disorders as monsters, was by the artist Toby Allen (https://www.zestydoesthings.com/realmonsters). It felt like someone had taken a peek into my mind, the encapsulation of how I saw mental health, and put into beautiful pieces of art, with accurate educational depictions of what the mental illness were. It was breathtaking.
The anxiety monster drew me in for obvious reasons. “Small enough to sit on its victims’ shoulders and whisper things to their unconscious eliciting fearful thoughts or irrational worries”. Having been always told “I’m an overthinker, a worry wart, neurotic” - the harmless words used to describe me by family and friends, outlining my deepest insecurities rooted in a monster sitting on my shoulder that I cannot control. He sits there and whispers, constantly badgering me with fears, with words of contempt, with reminders that I am not good enough and that I will never be good enough. He sits on my shoulder, all day, all night constantly reminding me of all the things that can go wrong, that will go wrong. My heart races, my mind races and I so desperately want to slow them down. I so desperately want the anxiety monster quieted, gone and to leave me alone.
My constant battle with the anxiety monster, may be with me through my entire life, but I recently decided that I was not going to let him control me anymore. I would take charge of my feelings; I would question his motives and I would ensure that he would no longer debilitate me in living my life and enjoying the little things around me that give me joy. I will keep fighting every day, to keep him at bay. I think at the end of the day, I cannot look at my anxiety monster as my nemesis but have to embrace him as a part of who I am, as my friend. I have to learn how to keep him at bay and live with him sitting on my shoulder - but just quiet the whisper to a hum.
We all have our monsters, but we all have to come to terms with our monsters. Embrace our monsters and learn to live with our monsters.
The Anxiety Monsters Friend