Updated: Jul 20, 2020
I once described living with anxiety to my therapist as being tied to a small, helpless furry monster that is constantly screaming at me. No matter what I do, I can't get away from it, I can't calm it or satiate it, I can't get it to stop screaming at me.
I went home and drew a sketch of my little buddy, and then I drew pictures of doing things I love, like art and hikes and wearing pretty dresses, all with my little monster tagging along. I saw my little monster tottering after me, crying for comfort but never being comforted. I felt kind of sad for it.
Thinking about anxiety in this way helped me so much. I could see it as part of me, but not all of me. I saw that there are things that are connected to who I am, that can co-exist with the anxiety. I could see that the responsibility I have to my anxiety is not to ignore it or give in to it, but to accept it and continue living my life according to my values. I can't hand it off to someone else and expect them to take care of it for me.
I think this visualization was a turning point for me in how I related to anxiety. It's been with me all my life, and I had struggled with it every moment until the moment I decided to accept it and move on with it. It had caused tension in my relationships, and I've over-burdened others with it in the past, I've begged for someone to come take it from me until I realized that it's no one's responsibility but mine.
My little buddy is still (and always will be) tied to me. I'll always have moments when it sits its butt down to shout and cry, and then makes doing the simplest tasks difficult. There will be days and whole weeks when it grows so hungry for my attention that it keeps me from fully enjoying the life I'm thankful to have. I'm still tightly laced to my little-monster-constant-companion-turned-buddy and freer still.