A Monster Named Anxiety: A look at Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)  in adolescence.

I have a friend. Her name is Worry. Her job is to protect me.  When I have something important to do, she will push me to do it.  She will make sure I do a great job. If I need to study, then she will make sure I do.  If I need to practice before a game, she will make me.  She ensures that I am kind to friends and respectful to authority figures.  

However, sometimes she gets scared.  She thinks others will hurt me.  She wants to protect me.  In order to keep me safe she must get really big, bigger even than me.  She tells me all of the bad things about people so that I won’t try to be too close to them.  Sometimes, if that doesn’t work, if I can still see the good in people, then she will start to attack me.  She will tell me all of the bad things about myself.  She will convince me that others do not like me.  She is not mean; she is my friend.  She does not want me to get hurt.  She will do anything to protect me.

When she gets like this, she is no longer my friend, Worry; she is now a monster named Anxiety. I should make her go away, but if I let her go, I might get hurt.  I might not do well in school.  She might be right; people can hurt me.   So I let her live here in my room. She wears me down slowly.  She has the power to hurt my body.  She can give me headaches, neck aches, jaw aches, backaches and stomachaches.  She can make sure I will never get rid of Worry, she will tie Worry to my back, but can do it in super sneaky ways so that I do not know Worry is there and think I am sick.  My doctors, however, assure me this is the work of Anxiety.

I learn how to recognize that that Anxiety and Worry do not define me. My friends don’t define who I am. I am my own person and don’t have to listen to Worry or Anxiety if I choose not to. I can stand up for myself.  I can calm the Anxiety monster by practicing mindfulness.  I can help my body heal from her effects by eating healthy foods and exercising.  I can talk to others about what she says and learn that it is not true.  I can replace her negative words with positive thoughts about myself.  

One of my best tools is not to fight Anxiety.  Instead I invite her in.  I listen to her.  I feel her.  Then she is happy.  She wants to know that I have heard what she had to say, and then she will calm down and I will too.  I assure her that I am okay and getting lots of help from my parents, my friends, my school, my church and my therapist.  I have tools that help me to tame her.  She is still there but she no longer hurts me.  I know how to control her.