Sometimes you keep me up at night whilst the world goes by outside – people living their lives in all kind of ways, drunk people, people stumbling home after a shit day, loud people rushing home after a great day. Sometimes I wake up and you’re already in my chest, the pit of my stomach, the all too familiar heaviness that revisits when I least expect…

I picture you like a little black cloud – one that I carry around sometimes. Everything gets a little darker when you’re around, but that doesn’t mean other things don’t shine brightly. I used to think anxiety was a part of my personality – that I was somehow less fun because of it, or just less of a person in general. I now recognise that anxiety makes me more. Having struggles makes you human, experiencing sadness makes you stronger. Why is it that we label these parts unattractive and stuff them deep down at the bottom of a locked draw? 

I now shout proudly about my anxiety. I let people know when I’m having anxious times, sometimes they even let me know back. These kind of interactions are invaluable – to be vulnerable in the world is to be truly brave. To be open about mental illness is to help others, to pave way for a new generation that will wear their hearts on their sleeves, not hidden under layers of pride and social shame. There is no shame in finding one day harder than the next, there is no shame in wanting to hide under the duvet because the day ahead is overshadowed by that little black cloud.

I realised recently that we must love the parts of us that ache. The parts of us that keep us awake. To bury them is to deny ourselves true happiness, and true happiness can never be flawless. In my experience, we have to face our demons head on, no matter how little energy we might have, no matter how much we wish things could be different. Anxiety isn’t a flaw.

Sometimes I tell myself that there will always be someone out there in the world that is experiencing something way worse than I am, but what kind of comfort does this offer our own experiences? We might be lucky in lots of ways, but that doesn’t mean we need to dull down our own suffering as some weird means of treating it. Maybe it’s better that we don’t compare ourselves at all, and that we just admit when we are having a bad day…

Whenever I try to picture anxiety I always think of a little black cloud. In my brain, it’s a scribbled cartoon style cloud that gets bigger and smaller and then sometimes moves angrily around the page. It follows me around and sometimes it invites itself inside to stay for a while, but then, just as all black clouds do, it drifts further away again until it’s out of sight. I get to feel the preferred version of myself again, chatty and social and not overthinking every inch of my life to the point of despair. I start to remember why life is beautiful again and become more motivated than before, I start to draw my hopes and dreams in the space around the little black cloud, and suddenly it doesn’t look so bad.

Some people say you can’t see anxiety but I disagree. I’m sure people who have suffered with it will agree there are lots of signs. Glazed over expressions, brain fog – the shortness of breath like you’ve just run to the top of a big flight of stairs….

We can’t always control our anxiety, but we can make it more manageable. We can make it more comfortable. We can co exist with our little black clouds and watch them shrink as time goes by. We are all worthy of the blue sky, and it always eventually comes back around…

Alice x

Blouse by Rouje | Photographs by me

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  1. Oh my gosh thank you SO much for this truly beautifully written piece. I suffer also and this just really hit the nail on the head about all I feel and after a week of anxiety and being off work and beginning to feel like there was no end and felt stupid for letting me feel this way again this wonderful blog post has just made everything seem better in my head so truly thank you!! <3 x

  2. I would like to thank you for these words. I’ve been sharing my life for more than ten years with that phantom that sometimes invades me: it leaves me without air and then exhausted. I still struggle to go out for a walk, to go to the gym when it happens to me, but I’m always stuck under the blanket, where I feel safe. Every time someone talks about anxiety I feel less lonely and less weird. A hug full of optimism.

  3. Thank you for your honesty. I also experience anxiety and what you wrote so authentically has changed my perspective on my anxiety.

  4. This beautifully and poetically written. Thank you for sharing, it is surprising how common anxiety and depression is but not a lot of people are open to talk about it. Such a beautiful post,keep going and keep sharing!



  5. These words are so beautiful and you’re so brave for writing them. I adore this ‘ I realised recently that we must love the parts of us that ache’ because I can truly relate to that. My anxiety is something which grew over the past year due to being diagnosed with a chronic disease, Ulcerative Colitis, every time I leave the house now anxiety arises because I’m just constantly scared of something going wrong (if you’ve never heard of Ulcerative Colitis you basically have no control over your bowel and its not fun) but some days I can battle that and others I can’t. I think its okay to not be okay and in regards to comparing our lives to others, I now have the mindset that any problem is as important as the next, whether big or small, suffering in any case isn’t nice. I really do love this post!

    Lucy Jane | Infinity of Fashion

  6. It’s nice to read something like that, I feel like I needed it. At some point, I get along with my anxiety, it was still here but it did not affect me the way it did. I then I become two. Having a boyfriend is great, an understanding boyfriend.it doesn’t touch just me anymore, and this is the part I really struggle with…

    Your blog is always a great comfort,

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