Almost every one knows the story of Snow White
Disguising herself as an ugly hag, The Evil Queen brings a poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can be broken only by a kiss from the Prince.
Now I’ve learnt long ago not to believe in Princes and True Loves Kiss to save the day, but I’ve been pretty sure for a while now that I’m a Disney Princess… And here’s why!
My Evil Queen is Anxiety. It follows me wherever I go, watching me from it’s ornate mirror. And each and every time I get within arms reach of my happily-ever-after… it feeds me poisoned fruit and I die …. Ha! No, just kidding.
But imagine for a moment that Snow White’s poisoned apple is yours. And then imagine that instead of a poisoned apple it’s your own self doubt.
From the outside every thing is rosy. You look healthy and sometimes you even shine but deep down below the skin is a mixture of fear, self pity, stress and dread. And day by day it rots away inside of you, sapping your energy and casting you off into a death-like slumber that makes the simplest things like getting up each day, getting dressed, having breakfast and going to work the hardest tasks that you will ever have to face.
Anxiety is a curse. It can make you imagine that things in life are worse than they seem, it prevents you from confronting your fears and chasing your dreams with the simplest of sentences ‘But what if…’
Anxiety is manipulative. Often you will convince yourself that you are going mad. That you are not correct. That you were made wrong. And you’ll look around you at all of the people who get up every day and do their washing and clean their house and catch their trains without a second thought and your emptiness will increase because Anxiety wants you to believe that you are alone.
Every day you will reason with Anxiety, you’ll tell it that you can solve this together, with a little help from friends and family or even from a Professional. But every day Anxiety will reply that seeking help is weak, ‘You’re such a disappointment’ Anxiety will say.
Anxiety is a bit of a Dick.
From the dawn of time, we were equipped with an internal alarm system designed to protect us from the dangers surrounding us in the wild. This system would make us hyper-alert by giving us a boost of adrenaline so we were better able to fight or run from danger. The Fight or Flight response. The Butterflies in the Stomach feeling. We all associate this with anxiety, but instead of being used to avoid immediate danger, it is often wrongly and inappropriately activated in a person during normal, everyday situations when stress has built up.
I most associate my anxiety with the fear that I am constantly letting everyone down.
There are so many people in my life that care for me and look out for me and spoon feed me opportunities, and this piles on an enormous amount of pressure. Each time I screw up, each time I get set back, each time I do not live up to expectations, I am letting down every single person that ever invested their time in me.
Despite being predicted an A* student, I failed my A-Levels at the age of 18, only getting in to University because I had be given and unconditional offer based on what they believed I could do.
I dropped out of University at the age of 20. I stopped going to lectures because I didn’t think anyone would like me, I wasn’t fitting in. So I didn’t get the grades and when they offered to let me resit the year I turned them down because I was too scared of failing again.
I spent two and a half years rebuilding my life in a job, working my way up from bottom of the heap to top of the food chain and I thought I had conquered my anxieties, defeated that foe once and for all, and so at the age of 22 I quit my job to start up my own virtual business.
And there she was. My Evil Queen, with her apple of self doubt in hand. And I took the apple and bit into it and now I am afraid. I am afraid that I do not have what it takes to make it on my own. I am afraid that my clients will see my instabilities and recognize my flaws and they will not give me the time of day. And so I won’t earn any money. And I won’t succeed. And I will become homeless and destitute and it will be my own fault.
And here’s the thing. It will be my own fault. Because just like Snow White I chose to bite into that apple. I looked Anxiety in the face and I allowed it to feed me self doubts and endless negativity. I chose to believe that I am alone.
Walt Disney once said:
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”
The universe will never find a way to cure anxiety. Every one will always be afraid of taking a leap into the unknown at some point in their lives. For some that fear will be a daily occurrence. And so if we cannot cure anxiety then we should face it together.
You can spend your days fiercely imagining your happily-ever-after or you can take that leap, with a friend on each arm (or seven very little friends Miss Snow) and make those dreams a reality.
You are not alone.