The Face of Anxiety

June 18, 2019

This is the face of anxiety.

This is the face often filled with so many intrusive thoughts it becomes debilitating.

These things can be hidden well behind fresh curls and a good makeup day.

They are hidden best behind a smile.

This is the face of OCD.

It’s the face of someone with obsessive hand washing routines and frequent observations of the health of those around me. I can notice a cough a mile away. Sometimes, I even hold my breath. It’s irrational and I know it, but my anxiety doesn’t. When anxiety takes over it erases rational thoughts and replaces them with fear and delusion.

Anxiety is easily hidden behind a smile and a good conversation. Most people don’t know the battles and turmoil it causes. Some days are harder than others. I never wanted to be an actress but I’ve gotten really good at acting like everything is ok. I’ve become a pro at masking the anxiety. I’ve gotten so good that sometimes I start to think I’m handling it.

Anxiety can be lessened by distraction, but it cannot be forgotten or ignored. It will pop back up. It will find you. It can take the most beautiful moments and turn them into a fearful disaster. It can take a moment filled with joy and turn it into chaos and confusion.

Anxiety doesn’t always look like heavy breathing and freaking out. It can be invisible. It can be silent. Usually it’s both.

It can be the face of your next door neighbor or the face of your child’s teacher. It can be your youth minister or your doctor. It doesn’t discriminate.

I didn’t use to be like this. I didn’t use to worry about every sneeze, cough and runny nose. I didn’t use to worry about my health and the health of my children every second of every day, but now I do. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

I wish I didn’t irrationally worry about every car ride my children take, every sleepover they attend, every friend’s hand they touch, or every toy they share. I’d love to be a “normal” mom, a carefree mom, a mom that worries less and enjoys life more.

One day I will. Every day I get better equipped to handle the fear and obsessive thoughts. Every day I get stronger in defeating the thoughts that try to cloud my mind. Every day I learn ways to replace the fear with faith.

Anxiety may have control over my mind at times, but it will not win. It will not defeat me. It may have stolen some moments, but it will not steal my life.

You see, this is the face of anxiety…for now, but not always. One day I’ll proudly say this is the face of freedom. Until then, I’ll keep taking deep breaths and reminding myself that the moment will pass.

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6 comments so far.

6 responses to “The Face of Anxiety”

  1. Sandy says:

    Amen! People without anxiety have no idea. Thank you for sharing.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      You’re exactly right, Sandy. Anxiety is so incredibly hard to explain and understand unless you have lived it. Unfortunately, I have and still do. This piece was extremely hard to write, as it made me extremely vulnerable putting my story out there. My hope is that others can relate and appreciate the words that flowed from my heart. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my work! xox, Chels

  2. Sue hansell says:

    I have anxiety and depression. I went to a shrink that helped me with the OCD and I take medication for the other. I would never want anyone to know what thoughts are in my head and the Family doesn’t.My medical Dr. told me I was great at masking it. It is clinical. My mom had to be institutionalized twice, but they did not have the meds that are available now. I also have sad, but do enjoy life, the kids and grandkids. I get criticized by them because my mind and conversations change from subject to subject often. I am a survivor of all these.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Sue, glad to hear a strong woman like you is a continued survivor of anxiety. It gives hope to all of us who are still struggling. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It’s such a brave thing to do. Most people can’t talk about it but I’ve found that discussing it actually helps release it from my being. Keep strong, Sue! xox, Chels

  3. Jenny says:

    Anxiety is a beast. The most helpful thing for me has been to catch myself in anxious thoughts and challenge them. So many times, we are believing a story that isn’t true; when you try to find the evidence to prove that it is true, you end up proving that it is not (and then you have vanquished that particular beast, even if just for awhile).

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Jenny, I completely agree. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on this piece. It was a hard one to write, putting myself out there but it felt extremely important to get off my heart. I hope you’ll keep coming back! xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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