catching anxiety in its own lies


WHEN THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD ARE PATHOLOGICAL LIARS


I have anxiety.

And actually, a lot of people have it. Anxiety related disorders are actually the most common type of mental illness, and for me, it usually takes the form of the voice of a pathological liar skulking around in my head. It doesn't always have to be huge things either. That's the thing about having the voice of a pathological liar living in your head; it lies about everything. Sometimes it lies about littler things whether you proofread that assessment for work enough or whether you were too awkward at that get together, when everything was really fine. But sometimes it lies about bigger things too, like whether your life is worth living or whether or not you're good enough of a person.


Anxiety lies about the little things and the big things. it's just what pathological liars do.


Something anxiety's lies often do to me is that they temporarily trick me into thinking I don't matter to anyone. It whispers into my ear saying that because this friend canceled those plans or because this person didn't text me back that they're just completely done with me. They're throwing me away and don't want to have anything to do with me anymore. It can sound a little overly dramatic, but it's one of the looming threats that anxiety holds over me, that all these people I care about are just going to one day pick up and decide that they're tired of me, and it's a terrifying cycle of thoughts. And it doesn't help that anxiety also often likes to borrow from the misguided words of the church when it hisses at me and says that people like me don't get to love or be loved because of who we are. It spits as it says that God doesn't love us and that we're damned to a life of loneliness while everyone around us gets exactly what we've been dreaming of. And it's those tiny snippets of lived experiential truth and the littlest fragments of maybe-they're-right questions that form the hooks that sink into me.

And I'll admit, it's hard and exhausting to be in a constant battle with the voices that populate your head, but the cheap trick they use over and over again is turning legitimate truths or fears into blanket statements, saying that because you don't have that relationship right now that you never will, or because you don't have it that you don't matter to anyone. It takes the truth that we're recipients of undeserved and unearned grace and tells us that we're the scum of the earth and that God could never love us. It takes all the honest truths that keep us humble and human and twists them just enough to make us feel like nothing.


their cheap trick is twisting legitimate fears or truths into blanket statements just enough to make us feel like nothing.


But the thing is: blanket statements are still lies, even if they've been inflated with partial truths that only apply part of the time. Knowing this, I think I'm slowly learning to see through the thin fabric of all those lies, and something I'm blown away by is that even as hard and arduous and emotionally turbulent as things like them can be, I'm finding myself so honored and often surprised that people in my life want me to be a part of things like meeting their significant others, witnessing their weddings, and savoring the final moments of their going away parties.

Though I'm often fixated on the things I wish I had, I'm finding myself newly reminded that despite what my anxiety says, I matter enough and people care enough to want me to be a part of those sweet moments. Sometimes I think to myself that perhaps this is a small and obvious realization, but it's also a powerful one that gives me another weapon to fight the voices and the lies that are often hard to distinguish from the truth, especially when they're so emotionally charged and play off the fears that already live in the recesses of your mind. This weapon of perspective and recognizing the lies for what they are is something that will need to be continually refined, but it's one that's already slowly proving to be effective.


And if any of them happen to be reading this, I just want to give a quick shout out to the following people who have, perhaps unwittingly, been helping me learn more about how the Lord sees us and the different forms love can come in. Maybe that doesn't make quite as much sense in writing as it does in my head, but I just want to say I love them and am thankful for them. So thank you & love you: Hannah Penz, Jasmine Bashore, Elise Krohn, Caitlin Gallagher, Ruth Schaefer.


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