Anxiety is a seemingly simple term. However, it can turn into a catalyst of drastic change for the ones who are diagnosed with it. ‘Anxiety’ was the only word written on the topmost line of my prescription that the psychiatrist gave me.
That was the name given to the slow and stormy change that was creeping into the life of my 11-year-old self. Little did I know that this bane would introduce me to the form of art that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I was never a carefree child, to begin with. However, nothing stopped me from exploring a
plethora of co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Be it dramatics, dance, elocution,
quizzes or debates, my name was always there in the list of participants. Putting my best foot
forward in every event that I was selected for put me into the limelight pretty soon.
Furthermore, the chirpy little girl in me could befriend anyone in a heartbeat. Well, anxiety changed all of that. In doing so, it metamorphosed me into nothing more than a lonely, trembling, fretful student who was toiling away for academic success with all her might. The only thing that pushed me to study was a crippling fear of failure.
This change was unpleasant for everyone I knew. My family tried to respond to it by booking
appointments with the best psychiatrists in my hometown. Unfortunately, none of their pills
Nevertheless, pen and paper helped me in a way that pills couldn’t.
When anxiety started magnifying even the most insignificant incidences into ghastly
disasters, my instinct forced me to write down my worries. Soon, I realised that years of
being an absolute bookworm made it easier for me to face my problems if I could express
them in the form of a poem.
I do not know if it was my general comfort with creative writing, the aesthetic allure of poetry, or the mere desire to put my misery to good use which was at play there. But, each poem that I wrote out of sheer desperation to handle my anxiety made me feel more and more empowered.
The thought that resonated in my head after filling every blank page was, “I am not a hopeless case after all!”
Moreover, this newfound activity gave me a lot of time to think about the particular trigger of
anxiety that I was writing about. Each verse of poetry that I wrote helped me gain a better
understanding of what seemed to be an insurmountable issue. The acceptance and clarity thus
gained also helped me during therapy in the recent past.
The most important lessons that I learned while writing about anxiety are as follows:-
1. People are a lot more than just their diagnosis: I was often teased, scolded and picked upon for getting anxious so easily. ‘Anxiety’ was also used as a nickname for me at
times. However, I realized that it is just one part of me! My abilities, choices, qualities, imperfections, personality as well as the disorder combine to make me who I am today.
2. People deserve to be understood, accepted and cared for: Learning how to accept myself with the disorder taught me how to be less judgemental of others as well. Every single person has a lot more to them than what I can see. Now, I try not to rush to conclusions about people. Rather, I try to gain a better understanding of them and see if I can be of any help.
3. Imperfections aren’t unacceptable: Had I not encountered anxiety, I wouldn’t have even dreamt of writing poetry. Once I accepted that this condition was overwhelming for me, I got the courage to sort my thoughts out. Thus, a disorder and its therapy introduced me to a form of art that I treasure today.
4. A disorder isn’t a sign of a weak personality: An anxiety disorder doesn’t signify that one is weak. It’s a psychological disorder that can happen to anyone! Moreover, the right treatment can cure it as well. I’d rather say that it takes a lot of perseverance and optimism to fight such a problem every single day.
5. Finally, don’t lose hope until the very end: I received the counselling I needed for getting better after many years. Nevertheless, it’s very important to cling to the hope
of getting better irrespective of how long you have been struggling with your disorder for.
I may thus conclude that I survived my battle against anxiety because I could convert most
of it into poetry. This helped me develop a different perspective towards psychological
disorders and the people who live with them.
This perspective of mine helps me work as a junior therapist at Mind Solace – a mental health organisation wherein we strive to reach every Indian in order to treat people and not just the disorders they suffer from. I must say that those childlike rhymes scribbled on the last pages of tattered notebooks have made me who I am today.