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Dear anxiety,

I went to the psychologist today
and was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.  
                It all fits:
                the tense muscles,
                the unremitting shyness,
                                the insomnia,
                                the visits from murderers in my nightmares,
                                the indefatigable worry.
                                                I finally understand what my problem is.

                                                                              It's you.


Dear anxiety,

Your poisonous tendrils
wrap themselves around
my panicky, thumping heart
and squeeze it until it almost stops.  
                                If I was ever able to pry them apart,
                                I’m sure they would leave permanent bruises
                                in the ugliest shades of olive and mauve.

                                                                                (Let me go
                                                                                 let me go
                                                                                let me go.)


Dear anxiety,

I have a ten ton weight resting
on my taut, rigid shoulders thanks to you.  
                My heart always knows your presence,
                trembling uncontrollably
                with your mere suggestion.  
                                Thoughts about being negatively judged
                                chase each other throughout my mind and
                                tangle themselves into an intricate, jumbled mess
                                until I don’t know what I am thinking anymore.

                                                                               See what
                                                                             you've done
                                                                                 to me?


Dear anxiety,

I discovered the reason
behind why you’ve stuck
with me all these years.
                You’ve been there for me
                since day one of my existence
                when I was born too early
                and only a pound and a half
                of skinny bones and fragile, discolored flesh.
                                Surrounded by beeping monitors
                                and stabbed with intravenous needles
                                for nine weeks before I could escape the chaos,
                                that is where you first discovered me.

                                                                              Now I'm not
                                                                           so sure I can tell
                                                                              you to leave.


Dear anxiety,

Two years
since I was granted medication
to relieve myself of the burden of you,
I still can’t let you go.
                You’re a constant presence
                in my now peaceful, serene mind,
                tormenting me with vivid hallucinations
                of fear and humiliation like I had once known.
                                You take advantage of my
                                every weak and vulnerable moment.

                                                                               When will you
                                                                                 ever let me
                                                                                    rest in
                                                                                    peace?


Dear anxiety,

I want to walk among the stars
and soar among the heavens
                but you won’t let me.

                                                                                 It's time
                                                                               I've learned
                                                                                   to live
                                                                               without you.
PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS PIECE WITHOUT MY WRITTEN PERMISSION.

This poem was originally intended to be submitted as an entry for =TheLeavesOfMemory's For a Cause contest ([link]) but since I couldn't find anything visual to go with it, I'm going to have to think of something else.

This is purely non-fiction. I was diagnosed with severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and now I'm meeting with a psychologist every week to learn to manage stress and worry.

Studies have come out that babies born prematurely and in the hospital for a long time just after their birth (like me) suffer from high anxiety the rest of their lives.

Well, it's a small price for being able to live.

Telling someone with GAD to "just calm down" is absolutely useless. We know that a lot of the things we're worried about aren't worth stressing over but with anxiety disorders, our worry is unmanageable and interfere with our day-to-day lives. We feel that we have to worry or else we'll be caught completely unprepared if the worst happens.

I hope that through this, you realize that anxiety disorders aren't something made up, a joke, or just some stupid excuse. They are lifelong disorders and certainly aren't able to be fixed in an instant. Even with medication, I struggle with it every day.

To all who have anxiety, this is a tribute to you. Know that at least one person knows what you're going through or what you have gone through. You're definitely not alone. :heart:

EDIT: In the spring of 2010, I realized that Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) seemed to be a more accurate diagnosis for what I was going through and so I worked with a therapist that specialized in SAD individually and with a social anxiety group. Initially, they rated me a 119 on the Social Anxiety Scale, which is very high to extreme, and by the time the group session was finished, I was a 39,which is considered to be below clinical diagnosis! It's gone up and down since then and it's still not entirely gone but I'm proud to say it's a whole heck of a lot better! =) So in the poem, I changed "generalized anxiety disorder" to "social anxiety disorder" and a few of the GAD symptoms to SAD symptoms.

:icondonotuseplz::iconmyartplz:
Add a Comment:
 
:iconironbatmaiden91:
IronBatMaiden91 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2014
This is powerful. Anxiety is a major bully and liar that can make your life a living hell.
Reply
:iconrrbspcreaturerox:
RRBSPcreaturerox Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014
Amazing....

I have anxiety and it's really killing me right now... i really don't know how to deal with it. I feel like crying. :'(
Reply
:iconhorseyluver1999:
Horseyluver1999 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I have a generalized anxiety disorder as well, I hate it. People think I'm insane when they see me freaking out over something random.
Reply
:iconmidwinterain:
Midwinterain Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Student Writer
Ah, I know exactly what you mean. I'm more on the Generalized Anxiety side than the Social Anxiety, but I can still relate to your poem - which by the way, is absolutely gorgeous. The way you wrote it gets across how you're feeling perfectly, and I love how you arranged it visually as well.

I'm glad to hear that you're getting better, anxiety (of the above-average kind, at least) isn't something I'd wish on my worst enemy.
Reply
:iconmintyhippo000:
MintyHippo000 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012
anxiety is that negative and lying innervoice that loves tormenting you and making your decisions for you
Reply
:iconironbatmaiden91:
IronBatMaiden91 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2014
It really is.
Reply
:iconzeudy:
Zeudy Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012
I have generalized anxiety and reading this, and all the comments, helped me to understand that I am not alone. It's so good to hear you're better, and I pray that one day everyone will be better too.
Reply
:iconxanbuthereturned:
XanbuTheReturned Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I have social anxiety too, and to see this made me feel less alone. I'm glad you have improved in your condition. I only just figured out I had it, caused by being bullied for four years, and I hope that I can be as brave as you are. xxx
Reply
:iconwhat-a-loser:
what-a-loser Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2012
thank you <3
and this is really good
Reply
:iconienvidevi:
iEnviDevi Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I almost couldn't finish reading this.As I do,my heart races and I feel panicked.I'm reading a description of a hell akin to mine.
Reply
:iconnessacity:
NessaCity Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love you forever for having the willpower and the confidence to put in words what most of us can't. Thank you, a thousand times. (:
Reply
:icondystopictrollop:
dystopictrollop Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I am working on a photo project to raise awareness of mental illnesses and disorders - to help people understand that they ARE real, and not just "in our heads". A sister of mine has SAD. Anyway, I would like to use this piece (and credit you, of course) on my tumblr, which I'm maintaining as part of this photo project. Please let me know if this is ok. You can check out the blog here: behindthegameface.tumblr.com and ask me anything you'd like. There aren't many posts yet...SAD is the first in the series I'm tackling.
Reply
:iconcandela-di-vita:
Candela-di-Vita Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I'm honored to be used in your photo project! And I'd love to check out your blog! Art is such a great way to bring awareness to others. Kudos to you for being brave and dedicated enough to help others more thoroughly understand mental illnesses and disorders! It's not an easy thing to do... People tend to have these inaccurate beliefs and cling to them. That's a big part of why anxiety disorders exist in the first place! Please tell your sister hello from a fellow person with SAD and let her know that I'm more than happy to be here for her is she ever needs to talk!

Well, I'm off to go take a look at your blog! Can't wait to see it! =)
Reply
:icondystopictrollop:
dystopictrollop Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you so much for letting me use your piece. I'm watching you now, too, you are a very talented artist! You can find the post with your piece in it here: [link]

Again, thank you SO much!
Reply
:icongoodbyeinsecurites:
goodbyeinsecurites Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2011
wow i can relate to this. i just got diagnosed and i have to idea how to cope with ito_0 i have a lot to learn. great job you captured it.
Reply
:icongiveahooot:
Giveahooot Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2011
I love this so much! I relate completely. Thankyou for sharing.
Reply
:iconunicyclephysics:
UnicyclePhysics Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2011  Student Writer
This is such a great piece - it almost brought tears to my eyes aha.
I've been suffering this all my life, although it's only recently started to become an issue
I'm on medication for it now - that seems to do the trick.
I wished I had saw this when I was suffering, it would've helped to know that I wasn't alone.
Thank you. :heart:
Reply
:icongrealauren:
GreaLauren Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2011  Student General Artist
This is wonderful, and it made me cry. I deal with these feelings almost every single night, depending on how stressed I am. I don't know what I have, if it's GAD, SAD, I just don't know. I know that the thoughts are usually triggered by mental exhaustion, from staying up too long or too late.. here lately it hasn't been bugging me at all but I know it will come back. It always does. I don't believe in taking medication unless absolutely necessary, that's why I taught myself how to recognize the triggers and how to be strong enough to shrug it away and that no matter what my head said, I know it's not true. It's never true. I cried because of the nightmares. I never understood that was part of the anxiety, I never read that as a symptom. I always wondered why I was dying in my dreams.. why I was always being chased or threatened at gun point or crashing into water as a passenger or driver.
I don't mean to ramble on your poem.. it's beautiful, and true to every word, thank you for writing it.
Reply
:iconerotesis:
Erotesis Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Student General Artist
Wow. This is absolutely increadible. You really are an extremely talented writer. Keep doing what you're doing. :love:
Reply
:icondianecrow:
DianeCrow Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
The spacing format is brilliant because it gives a sort of extra feel to the general mood :star:

I'm so sorry to hear about what you've had to go through but I'm glad you're getting better :heart: I hope that one day you really do get cured.
At least you don't have to worry about being an amazing writer :D No joke there~
Reply
:iconsepulchral-roses:
Sepulchral-Roses Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow. This is intense and personal and amazing and lovely and wow. I have no words. :heart:
Reply
:iconcattheminion:
CATtheMinion Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011   General Artist
I wasn't born premature, but I was gestated in a malnourished wasteland that had been ransacked of its resources by my brother :( I wonder if that's similar.... idk
anyway I have really bad anxiety problems and find myself :nod: at most of the elements in this poem. I'm glad that you are able to have access to medical care. I try and do the best I can but sometimes the anxiety is crippling, and truly heart-straining.
Reply
:iconlittlerobin87:
littlerobin87 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I loved this! I too was diagnosed with GAD last year. They tried putting me on every medication possible but none of it would work right with me. (I'd either get too depressed or it would make my anxiety worse). But I discovered last year that I also have hypertension, and that the blood pressure medication I take actually somewhat stops my anxiety, and I'm more easily able to control my panic attacks. :) I'm so glad you're getting help with it, and that it seems you're improving. That is the best gift of all, knowing that you can be free from that prison. :heart:
Reply
:iconkrystal-j:
Krystal-J Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is fantastic. I have not been diagnosed with it but I feel the same way all the time... This has helped me understand abit more about myself! thank you!
Reply
:iconxxxxcobaltxxxx:
xxXXCobaltXXxx Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Actually, I have the exact same thing. This poem is absolutely amazing, and you did such a great job describing the feelings and emotions... amazing job
Reply
:icondeadrose123:
deadrose123 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
i love this poem, really deep and great imagery
i love the way the poem is structured,showing the structure of your thoughts, im truly sorryyou feel this way but if you need someone :) feel free to note me any time :D
Reply
:icona-rose-in-misery:
A-Rose-In-Misery Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:rose: This is an amazing piece of creative, emotional, hard-hitting writing which even brought a tear to my eyes once I'd read it. Your Author's Comment also left me feeling so understood and so secure with knowing about my anxiety. I've only very recently discovered the medical name for my abnormal levels of anxiety but I've been suffering from it for over half my life. It can be very frsutrating when people tell me to "calm down" or "don't be so irrational, you're just being silly now" as I know that my worries are much darker and more intense than just 'worrying over nothing'. A few days ago, I brought up the courage to tell my parents and I now have my first therapy session next week, though I know that my parents still don't fully understand the nausea, insecurity and lack of control that I feel daily. Thank you for writing this incredible piece of literature.~ It really gives me hope that there are other people out there. :happycry:
Reply
:iconcandela-di-vita:
Candela-di-Vita Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Aww, thanks so much! :hug: I'm glad this helps you feel that you're not alone! Anxiety can be very debilitating and I'm so glad you were able to tell your parents and start therapy! That is a GREAT step! A lot of people with anxiety are afraid to tell anyone and try hard to keep it from everyone, much less go to therapy so know that you are well on the path to recovery!

When you go to your first therapy session next week, I would ask your therapist if he/she is certified in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT. All it is is: events --> thougts --> actions. This therapy is simple but EXTREMELY effective with anxiety. It helps change the irrational thoughts that causes anxiety because we cannot change the events that cause us to be anxious but we CAN change our thoughts that lead to our actions.

If you need a shoulder to lean on that understands what you've been going through with your anxiety, please don't hesitate to send me a note! I'd love to talk to you and help you out. =) I've also got quite a few handouts from my therapist that you might be interested in dealing with anxious thoughts.

Once again, I'm glad my piece was able to help! Keep up the good work and don't forget to keep your head up! Anxiety is tough but you are tougher! You telling your parents and going to therapy shows me that.

:heart:

Candace
Reply
:icona-rose-in-misery:
A-Rose-In-Misery Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks so much! I went to cognitive-behavioral therapy when I had trouble sleeping when I was 7 due to something frightening that I'd seen at school and I don't remember it helping me all that much and my mum talked to her friend who does hypnotherapy and who suggests that hypnotherapy might be a good 'next' step.

You're right, anxiety is horrible and my symptoms are mixed with those of OCD and have been the same -- not getting better OR worse -- for nearly 7 years.

Your support, as well as that from other people who've been in this kind of constant anxious state, is priceless to me and am eternally grateful for your advice as, though I've told my parents and one of my best friends, I think that they still can only ever see it as 'worry' as they've never been in a state where every person on the street is a potential killer or kidnapper, every car is potential death and every person is judging me if I do something wrong or get into trouble.

Again, your piece was amazing and I sincerely hope it will inspire more people; either people who are suffering from some sort of Anxiety and feel alone, or people who are interested in it and want to know more and raise awareness.

Thanks.~ :heart:
Reply
:iconbaronvonkoser:
BaronVonKoser Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2010
i hate anxiety, it's ruining my life
Reply
:iconshaiiim:
shaiiim Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2010
Great piece of poetry indeed.

Exactly how I feel about this. My parents have been in denial while watching me suffer through for a good year before I actually got medical help. And the "calm down" comments that often come from friends just make it worse, because when your body is shaking, head is spinning and you can't breathe, you cannot just "calm down".
Reply
:iconjanlover:
Janlover Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2010  Student Artist
Beautiful, beautiful peice (:
I love it. I have anxiety disorder myself, and this really does represent what it's like. Keep writing and stay strong :heart:
Reply
:iconsucharadical:
sucharadical Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010   Writer
I have anxiety disorder too, but I'm on Prozac.
I completely empathize.
:hug:
Reply
:iconmsdanni:
msdanni Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I'm speachless! i think this peice deserves thousands of fav's! its written & formatted so well, your not alone :)
Reply
:iconhlnanimefreak:
hlnanimefreak Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Well put... None of my friends seemed to understand the living nightmare I went through last year... I pretty much dealt with it on my own, felt like something was attacking me, making me fear, I could barely eat, would throw up. :( Could barely think straight, would shake uncontrollably and nearly cry... my heart would speed up along with my breathing... And about a year ago my worst attack happened when I was at a band competition thing... I had one on stage and had been dealing with my panic the whole time, it escalated though, and my I hyperventalated without realizing it, and my WHOLE body went numb... I thought I was having a heart attack.... :( None of them seemed to understand it though... Especially one of the people who seemed to help trigger it.... But, God got me through it!!! I found out that reading my Bible really calms me down, and He does understand. :D
Reply
:icondabunny158:
Dabunny158 Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2009  Professional General Artist
Powerful peice. I can relate, I have it also.
It is nice to know someone's also dealing with it.
But i'm not on medication and not talking to anyone, so its
stressful. Again, i love the peice! XD
Reply
:iconcandela-di-vita:
Candela-di-Vita Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Thanks very much! I agree... It's really nice to know someone else is going through the same thing. Feeling like you're the only one suffering is frustrating and depressing. Well, if you need someone to talk to, you're welcome to talk to me about it! Just send me a note! I'd be glad to help! =)
Reply
:icondabunny158:
Dabunny158 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2010  Professional General Artist
Not at all, and thank you :)
Reply
:iconsimplysamwise:
simplysamwise Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the format--it's very pleasing to the eye--and the fact that it's non-fiction makes it that much more powerful.
Reply
:iconcandela-di-vita:
Candela-di-Vita Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2009  Student Digital Artist
Thanks! It took forever to format... and forever to write. *sighs* I hope it gave you a sense of what GAD is like!
Reply
:iconsimplysamwise:
simplysamwise Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
yupp. :]
Reply
:iconlosingmyfaith:
losingmyfaith Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2009  Student Writer
great piece. i take lexapro, also. but for depression, not anxiety. it's well written, very heartfelt. (:
Reply
:iconcandela-di-vita:
Candela-di-Vita Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009  Student Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm glad you like it! =) I edited the spacing since you last looked at it... Do you think it works or does it detract from the poem?

How does Lexapro work for you with your depression? Did you have any side effects from it in the beginning?
Reply
:iconlosingmyfaith:
losingmyfaith Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009  Student Writer
no, i like the new spacing, good work!

it helps. when i first started taking it, i would take it in the morning, and it made me really dizzy as the day progressed. But then i started just taking it at night and it works fine. how is it helping you?
Reply
:iconcandela-di-vita:
Candela-di-Vita Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009  Student Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm glad it works. =)

It really helps me. I've been a lot more calm and overall less anxious and irritable. Funnily enough, I used to be horrible in the morning and now when I wake up, I'm actually pleasant. That's never happened before. =D I never meant to be angry in the morning but the anxiety would always mix with me not being a morning person and the insomnia and turn me into a monster. I take it at night, too... Since it made me really tired during the day, it works great at night.
Reply
:iconlosingmyfaith:
losingmyfaith Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009  Student Writer
well that's good (: i'm glad it's helping you!
Reply
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