When I can feel my anxiety bubbling up, when it starts to take over, I imagine it as a thing separate from me. I started doing this years ago, especially when I understood a lot less about my relationship with my anxiety. I would try to remove myself. I would get upset at my anxiety. I would tell my anxiety to go away. I would try to tell it it didn’t control me. This didn’t always work.
Somewhere along the way, I’m not positive when, I attached a face to it. A character. And it was one that already existed in the world. I chose the big red monster from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. He’s menacing. Big. Aggressive. But also a little dim. And, in the end, harmless. This is how I’ve come to relate to my anxiety. I later found out the character’s name is Gossamer, which makes it even more fitting. Merriam-Webster defines Gossamer as a piece of spider’s web; a very light or delicate material.
Despite my anxiety seeming like an overly powerful beast that chases me through haunted mansions while wearing tennis shoes, it’s actually fragile. Delicate. Easy to tear right through.
Our anxiety likes to make us think we are powerless. That we should cower or hide. But, really, it’s like a spider web. We have the power to reach out and brush it out of our face. Gossamer.
I picture the giant red monster asleep in the corner of my room. I like him curled up and snoring. Sometimes he’ll wake me up in the middle of the night or try to follow me into a social gathering where I know no one. He might chase me when I’m on my way to an interview. But, in the end, I know he’s not something to be intimidated by.
Name your anxiety. Give it a personality and accept that you’ll always have some kind of relationship with it. But also accept that you can name your own terms. You control how much attention you give it. You can tie it’s shoe laces together while it sleeps and watch it stumble as it tries to chase you.