I’m a Pro-Choice Christian and I’m Devastated by the Overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 court case that established a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. Like many people, I was incredibly sad to hear this news.

Let me preface this by sharing where I’m coming from: I am a Christian and my religion is deeply important to me. I am also pro-choice. I do not believe that life begins at conception. I do believe that everyone has the right to choose what happens to their bodies.

I’d like to start by pointing out the obvious: abortion is a moral issue. While the potential for life may begin at conception, being a human being requires more than a fertilized cell, embryo, or fetus. At the risk of sounding unprofessional, there’s no way you can convince me that a zygote (which looks like this) is the same as a living, breathing baby.

And look, I’m not here to argue about when human life really begins. Whether it’s the legal issues that this could create (should child support payments begin at conception too?), the staggering number of miscarriages that occur before a woman knows she’s pregnant (does God really give that many babies only a few weeks as a fetus to experience life?), that IVF treatments are performed with the knowledge than many fertilized eggs won’t survive (those suddenly don’t count?), or the fact that many religions (including my own) treat abortions differently than they treat murder, the concept of life at conception doesn’t make sense to me.

I’d like to add that this doesn’t mean I scoff at anyone who celebrates a pregnancy as soon as they find out — I think it’s wonderful to prepare for the potential life growing inside of you. I just don’t think it’s an actual human being until much later. And I’m not really sure when I believe life begins. Maybe it’s in the third trimester and maybe it’s not until that baby draws its first breath, but it’s certainly not at the point of conception.

What Did Roe v. Wade Decide?

Many people think that overturning Roe v. Wade will reduce the number of abortions in the country and end there, but that’s not true. Roe v. Wade was decided based on the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which, according to the court, granted a woman a fundamental “right to privacy” in terms of her medical decisions made before the second trimester of pregnancy.

Before about 1850, abortion was widely tolerated until, in the late 19th century, a group of male doctors decided to police abortions through various methods of surveillance and investigation.

Because Roe v. Wade was based on a woman’s right to privacy, what do you think is going to happen now that women apparently don’t deserve that constitutional right anymore? In today’s era of electronic usage and online data, what is stopping the government and/or third-party companies from monitoring the activity of every person with an unplanned pregnancy and arresting them as soon as they arrive at an underground abortion clinic? Roe v. Wade may have quite literally been the only legal precedent stopping that Big Brother behavior. If you aren’t concerned about that kind of surveillance (and what precedent that kind of monitoring may set in the future), then…I don’t know what to say. 

Overturning Roe v. Wade also removes rights for other aspects of the fertility process, including IVF treatments. Depending on how states and judges define human life, IVF may soon become illegal in many parts of the country as well.

Banning Abortion Isn’t the Answer

Let’s look at a couple of statistics about abortion. Many pro-life advocates use late-term abortions as a driving argument, but the vast majority of abortions are performed during the first trimester. In fact, almost 80% of abortions are performed before the patient is 9 weeks pregnant. Only about 1% of abortions are performed during the third trimester. Many hospitals and medical facilities won’t perform a late-term abortion unless there is a serious medical need for it.

Abortions are very common and occur regularly around the world, regardless of what the law says. It is estimated that about 25 million unsafe abortions take place every year. Unsafe abortions are so common that they are a leading cause of maternal deaths and morbidities for women, many in developing countries where it is impossible to access a safe abortion.

I don’t need to point this out, but I will anyway: wealthy individuals, whether they are Republican or Democrat, Christian or Atheist, will always have access to safe abortions. About half of the people who seek abortions live below the federal poverty level. Over 60% of abortions are sought by minorities, who are also more likely to live near or below the poverty line.

Lack of access to healthcare, health insurance, and contraceptives all play a role in abortion rates. There is an abundance of evidence to prove that easy access to birth control is directly correlated with lower abortion rates. On a side note, abstinence-only curriculums are often positively correlated with higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates.

There is no definitive proof that banning abortions reduces abortion rates. It is extremely difficult to track unsafe and illegal abortions, which occur at higher rates in countries or states where abortion is severely restricted. On the flip side, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that banning abortion does not reduce abortion rates.

So when it is clear that easy access to birth control and affordable healthcare is the best way to reduce the number of abortions, why do Republicans, who make up the vast majority of pro-life Americans, continue to vote for policies that reduce access to those things? If you really cared about reducing abortions, you would do everything in your power to prevent as many abortions as possible, including the unsafe ones.

The Real Arguments Against Banning Abortion

While everything I’ve said so far is enough to convince me to be pro-choice, I’m aware that a lot of people don’t care about any of that. So I’d like to finish by talking about two of the most compelling arguments I’ve heard about why we should not limit access to abortions.

First: bodily autonomy. If you are applauding the overturning of Roe v Wade, you are also applauding the government’s ability to force a woman to undergo an invasive and dangerous medical procedure (giving birth) because by doing so, she is “saving” the life of someone else.

Bodily autonomy is a basic human right. We cannot force people under the threat of legal punishment to have any medical procedure done. If someone approached you and told you that they needed a kidney transplant and you were the only potential donor, you have a right to say no, even if it is certain that person will die without the transplant.

Unless someone chooses to be an organ donor, their organs legally cannot be harvested to save another human life. We can’t even force people to give blood!

You can have your own thoughts about whether someone should do those things or not, but legally you cannot force them to. And that makes sense, right? Can you imagine what the world would be like if the police came knocking at your door and told you that you had to donate bone marrow to a stranger or you’d go to jail?

A pregnant woman deserves the right to bodily autonomy, which means that she gets to decide if she will sacrifice her body to “save” someone else, or if she will get an abortion to make sure that her body remains unharmed. Denying someone their bodily autonomy when it comes to pregnancy sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

Second: abortion is a moral issue that revolves around religious values. The way abortion is being discussed and regulated in the United States, it is specifically a moral issue within Christianity and Christian sects. Abortion is approached differently in many other religions. Under Jewish law, for example, life is not believed to begin at conception, and abortion is explicitly stated as a healthcare right. Except for some stricter schools of thought, abortion is acceptable within Islam before 120 days of gestation. Almost 90% of atheists believe that abortion should be legal in all cases.

Why are we making laws that primarily cater to one religion’s beliefs? The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (aka the separation of church and state) prohibits the government from creating a law “respecting an establishment of religion,” meaning the government is not allowed to establish an official religion or prefer one religion (or lack of religion) over another.

Allowing states to ban all forms of abortion because of the belief in life at conception is forcing those citizens to abide by the beliefs of that religion. I cannot believe that this is not seen as a violation of the Constitution. Can you imagine what would happen if the Supreme Court allowed states to ban pork for all citizens in accordance with Islam? It’s laughable to consider forcing people to abide by religious beliefs when they don’t practice that religion…except, of course, when it comes to Christianity.

Creating laws based on spiritual views and forcing those opinions onto other people is unbelievably unjust. It forces those people to practice religious beliefs they have every right to not follow and violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. I am a proud Christian, but I would never expect someone to live their life in the same way that I do.

Every human being in the United States has the right to safe healthcare, bodily autonomy, and religious freedom. By overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court is stripping millions of women of those rights. And if you’re applauding this decision while simultaneously advocating against comprehensive sex-ed, easy access to birth control, and affordable healthcare policies, you are showing your hand when it comes to what you really care about: controlling women’s bodies in the name of a fetus you want nothing to do with after it’s born.


When I was twelve a boy in my class told me

I shouldn’t wear leggings to school

And at first I didn’t understand 

but then I understood 

more than any pre-teen should

from then on

magazines and movies and the voices in my head

confirmed the reason behind 

my constant feeling of dread

and ultimately led to a fear of being fed

a fear of what was and what wasn’t unsaid

academics were not the only thing I learned in school

math was fractions and how to calculate a calorie deficit 

biology was mitochondria and how fat cells make you an elephant

I learned that before I was even on my own

I was paying rent to the minds of people I owed nothing to

trading the acceptable curves of my body 

for a stamp of approval 

in the form of silence and the absence of ridicule

I learned that leaving little to the imagination 

is only okay when it’s something people want to imagine

that compassion is directly correlated with my level of attraction

and their reaction to my distraction is the fault of only my actions

I wish unlearning was easy.

but since my introduction to middle school law

not a day has gone by

where I haven’t looked in the mirror and disliked what I saw

haven’t taken the time to go through my flaws

to pinch and preen and prod

until my person was palpable within the parameters

of what society considered comfortably in awe

It’s so unfair, isn’t it? 

that I figure my figure is an inevitable part 

of my worthiness to exist? 

that the weight on my shoulders has to be 

directly proportionate to the weight of my thighs?

that extra padding does nothing to shield me 

from words like stones and glares like knives?

no one should ever feel a need to become smaller

so that they can be more easily digested

no one should feel as if their weight

is what tips the scale of how they are treated 

there shouldn’t be a fine line between 

being conceited and feeling defeated

and sometimes I feel like my mind was cheated

out of the experiences I could have had

if I didn’t need to drain energy on the idea

that I was given a limited amount of space in this world

and I am taking up too much of it.

if I didn’t feel pressure from the amount of pressure

I was exerting on the floor 

as if the world can’t handle a few more pounds 

when the weight on my chest weighs much more

I can’t tell you that my mind has yet healed 

from the divided thinking I forced it into 

from the dichotomies and discordances 

of loving myself and being larger than a size 2

but I can tell you I know the things I wrote are facts

and I’m trying to make myself believe they’re true


Hey guys. It’s been a while.

Ugh, I hate sounding all mopey, but I’m not feeling awesome.

This year has been tough (duh) and I feel like I’m struggling to do anything fulfilling. Even though writing is one of my main sources of fulfillment and nothing about 2020 inhibited my writing process.

Except for despair, I guess?

The world has just felt pretty awful and lonely and sucky. I haven’t felt motivation to do something in months. And that thought makes me feel even worse because I know that you shouldn’t have to feel motivated to get stuff done. Maybe I feel like 2020 was a test of my mental strength and resilience and…I failed.

I could have pushed past those feelings of suckiness and done something I was proud of, but I didn’t.

And now I’m entering the new year feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything last year.


I dunno, I’m going to work with this.

But on the brighter side, a certain someone ended their time with a certain country yesterday, and THAT is very hopeful news.

I’m trying to focus on that. Better days ahead.

What It’s Like to Debate Politics When You Have Anxiety

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Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

There has been a lot going on in the world over the past few months. (Past few years? Is it September already? What is time??) Yes, there has always been a lot going on, but the COVID-19 pandemic and death of George Floyd seemed to spark a shift in the tone of political and human rights discussion in the United States.

I’ve never been extremely vocal about issues. For as long as I can remember I’ve tried to stay well-read about what was going on in the world but I wasn’t rushing to Facebook to share my opinion or even raising my hand in class unless I was prompted.

While I do harbor a certain amount of guilt over not adding my voice to the public discussion for many years (the reasons for which, as the topic of this piece, will be discussed soon) I finally hit a point a few months ago where I decided I couldn’t stay quiet anymore.

I haven’t turned into a human rights activist by any means, and I don’t even post on social media that frequently compared to many other people. There are a few reasons for this (including my limited knowledge of certain subjects) but the main one, by far, is my anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a funny thing. The simplest definition is that it causes excessive worrying, which is true, but how it causes that worrying is what gives it the power to grip your entire life.

I love debating political and sociological issues. I’ve always described myself as someone who “likes knowing what’s going on” and this mindset eventually led me to a journalism degree (which I never used because of my anxiety, but that’s a different story) and a need to browse various news sites several times a day.

My entire family is similar to me in this way — we love talking about things. We don’t always agree with each other, but in recent years we’ve reached a point where we can discuss pretty much anything from any angle without disrespecting or insulting anyone who disagrees. We have some fantastic talks and I find myself thinking or saying “I never thought of that before” often, which is extremely satisfying and makes me feel like I’m growing.

I’m lucky that my anxiety has not been able to penetrate my relationship with my family yet. I’m not sure why I’ve been spared (this is definitely not the case for everyone) but I feel able to say pretty much anything I want to my family without the persistent dread and negativity my anxiety brings in almost every other environment.

I wish I could feel like that when sharing my thoughts and beliefs with other people, but that’s not the case. Sharing my thoughts about anything remotely political, whether it be an article I’ve written, a Facebook post, or the work of someone else shared to my Instagram story, feels like pulling the pin of a grenade and waiting for the inevitable destruction that will follow.

We all have at least one person on our Facebook feed who loves criticism and debate, friendly or not. They post multiple times a day, sometimes material that is fact-checked and sometimes material that isn’t, and obviously revel in the chance to have a back and forth text discussion on the issue. After they press “post,” they go about their day like nothing happened. If someone disagrees with them, they rebut the point and move on, probably not dwelling on the comments more than a few minutes or so.

I am not one of these people. When I feel strongly about an issue and have gathered enough viable information to share a small part of my belief on it, my first thought is, “what will people think of me when I post this?” There are a few people within my Facebook and Instagram community who I specifically think of, and those people, whether I consider us good friends or old acquaintances, have stopped me from posting many times in my life.

After going back and forth about posting something to social media, usually for several days, I’ll finally decide I’m going to post to social media and share my opinion. As soon as I post, my heart begins to race and I start sweating profusely. I try to put my phone down and ignore it for a while, but I can’t help but check every few minutes to see if someone replied. What would they say? Would anyone agree with me? Are they laughing as they read my text on their screen?

Most people who disagree with me aren’t rude or mean about it, but the idea of someone criticizing me is terrifying and makes me feel nauseous. (Great mindset to have for an aspiring writer, right?) When I post something and someone I know responds with some form of “I don’t agree with this,” my first reaction is, “this person thinks I’m an idiot,” or, “this person doesn’t respect me anymore.”

I know that’s silly. If I don’t agree with someone, I don’t immediately think “wow, what a loser” so why should I believe other people are thinking that about me? But hey, that’s how anxiety works.

Reading a comment from someone explaining why they think I’m wrong sends shock waves through my heart. My head pounds and I feel a heaviness settle on my chest that lasts all day. It’s the only thing I can think about for hours — I can barely concentrate on anything else that day and rarely get any work done. It makes me feel pathetic and completely dependent on the opinions of others and I begin to think I should have kept my mouth shut.

I always respond to comments and end the discussion politely when I feel like it’s going nowhere. I’ve never had friends call me to say we can’t be associated with each other anymore because of my beliefs, but I haven’t come out unscathed. I know for a fact that someone people I’ve known my entire life have lost some respect for me and I’ve had uncomfortable discussions with friends that have led to a silent departure from each other’s inner circle. That really sucks. Is being an informed and vocal member of society worth this mental torment and the very real possibility of losing friends?

I think so.

I’m not saying everyone with anxiety or any other mental illness/other hardship should feel obligated to share their entire life on social media. You do you. My feeling of obligation comes from how informed I try to be about events and my desire to share information with others. If I take the time to fact check sources and weed out the truth from all the spam I see flying down my Facebook feed, I feel like I owe it to the people who actually want the facts (and to the people who are sharing blatant lies without realizing it) to share what I know. Our country is entirely dependent on the people and the only way we can create a healthy and well-rounded society is by people sharing their voices. And as long as my anxiety lets me, I’ll try to share mine.

No, Anxiety and Introversion Do Not Always Go Hand in Hand

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I’m an introvert. I also have an anxiety disorder. While those two things are related for me, that’s not the case for everyone. It’s a common misconception that anxiety and introversion always go hand in hand, but that’s not true! I can’t tell you the number of times someone who knows I’m an introvert heard I have anxiety and said, “Oh, that makes sense.” Let’s dig into this stereotype and debunk it.

Anxiety is a mental illness. Introversion is not.

The definition of an introvert is someone who “prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments.” The definition of an anxiety disorder is someone who “displays excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about a number of things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances.”

Being an introvert means you are the most comfortable under certain circumstances, while anxiety means you are rarely comfortable at all, depending on the level of severity. While you can certainly experience both at the same time (like me!), I want to make it clear that introversion and anxiety are two very different life experiences.

I can see where some of the confusion can come from. Introverts thrive in calm situations and need alone time to recharge. Many people with anxiety also thrive in calm situations and need alone time to recharge. But that’s not always the case for someone with anxiety — some people may feel trapped in their mind when they are alone or would rather move around and stay busy. It all depends on the person and their feelings should be validated.

Extroverts can have anxiety too.

Assuming anxiety and introversion go hand in hand can even further the stereotype that outgoing extroverted people don’t have anxiety. Again, this is simply not true. An anxiety disorder can affect someone no matter what their personality type looks like.

It can be harder for people to imagine the bubbly person at the frat party with an anxiety disorder, but their (and everyone else’s) mental health experience is just as valid as someone who better “fits” a stereotype. Many extroverted people have a hard time admitting to their anxiety and seeking help for it because of these stereotypes.

Mental illness doesn’t fit into a box, nor does introversion.

Any sort of stereotype about mental illness is at best ignorant and at worst incredibly damaging to the people involved. No one should feel like their mental illness isn’t as “real” or “difficult” as someone else’s because they don’t fit into a tiny box of what anxiety “should” look like.

Personality types are very similar — while introversion and extroversion fit a certain classification (just like mental illnesses), there is no “right” or “wrong” way to be an introvert. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told “I never would have thought you were an introvert!” by friends and coworkers. Maybe my solo travels around the world and my bubbliness at parties with friends is what throws people off.

But while sometimes I fit an extroverted stereotype, I am absolutely and unequivocally an introvert. I need alone time from even the people I love the most and I’m the most comfortable by myself cozying up with a good book. Heck, I even need space from my dog sometimes.

How can introverts help debunk this stereotype?

I know being an introvert and speaking out about things doesn’t sound great to everyone reading this, but if you feel comfortable talking about being an introvert, go for it! Sharing experiences is the best way for people to connect and break down walls of misunderstanding.

The same goes for people with anxiety (again, if you feel comfortable). Writing about my introversion and anxiety has been a great way for me to speak out about things I don’t feel comfortable saying in front of a crowd or in person.

Everyone has at least one introverted friend and everyone knows at least one person with anxiety. (Okay, I don’t know if that’s true for sure, but it’s probably a good guess.) My point is, many people won’t take the time to learn about something or someone different from them until they have a reason. But many people do have that reason, they just don’t realize it yet!

Final Thoughts

Never assume people are going to live the same experience as the one you’ve been taught by the media, family, or even your own experiences. Negative stereotypes don’t always come from a bad place — it’s often just not having enough information to make a rational and compassionate thought.

Just because someone is an introvert, it doesn’t mean they have anxiety. Just because someone has anxiety, it doesn’t mean they’re an introvert. Everyone is doing their best to work through their own life experience and stereotypes like these don’t make that any easier. Be compassionate and stay open-minded about everyone.

Important Issues Are Not Mutually Exclusive

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I see it all the time.

“Instead of focusing on Black Lives Matter, why don’t we talk about abortion?”

“I have an idea, why don’t we start sharing information about child trafficking the way we do about COVID-19?”

“Y’all spend your time discussing masks when we should really be bringing attention to police brutality.”

The world is full of problems and issues that need to be discussed. Public examination and debate is a vital way to bring awareness to these issues and we are in a better spot than ever before to do so. Our access to communication makes bringing light to a cause as easy as opening Twitter or Facebook.

A side effect of this communication is how quickly our timelines now fill with issues to talk about. In an ideal world, I suppose, this wouldn’t be a bad thing — the internet is big enough to harbor every charity event, news article, and personal essay out there. However, we as a species are driven by competition (queue “survival of the fittest” quote) and instead of welcoming multiple ideas at one time, we have created a competition of constantly pushing new things forward.

While this isn’t inherently bad, this idea of “what I want to talk about is more important than what you want to talk about” is, in my opinion, causing more harm than good.

Pitting two social issues against each other assigns them a tier status when they don’t need one. Who gets to say homelessness is more or less important than police budgets? Who gets to say mental health awareness is more or less important than systemic racism?

The problem with deciding your conversation is more important than the current conversation (or your perception of the current conversation) is that, as wholesome as your intentions may be, the fact that you feel you can categorize the importance of social issues means you have a bias about them.

Again, it’s not inherently bad to have some sort of bias or affection towards a particular issue. But it starts to become problematic when you use that bias to draw attention away from other equally important issues.

It is irresponsible and unethical to take momentum away from a cause simply because the ego you have associated with a different one isn’t getting enough attention.

Let’s look at an example I’ve seen a lot on my social media feeds in recent weeks: “Let’s stop freaking out about COVID-19 and focus on the much bigger issue of child trafficking.”

The coronavirus pandemic is a very important, current issue. Over 600,000 people around the world have died and millions have been hospitalized. Over 14 million cases have been documented. People haven’t been able to give final goodbyes to loved ones or even participate in funerals. Economies have halted, millions have lost jobs, countless people have developed mental health complications, and domestic violence rates have increased. Cases in the United States are increasing and the number of deaths, while not significantly increasing, are not dropping. Wearing a mask to help slow the spread has gone from a medical recommendation to a political issue, causing further division in our country. The coronavirus has affected and continues to affect millions of people.

Child trafficking is also a very important, current issue. Current statistics estimate over 10 million children are victims of child trafficking at any given time. Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and questionable death in 2019 and Ghislaine Maxwell’s recent arrest have brought more light to involvement from some Hollywood elite. The International Labor Organization reports that forced labor generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year. Children living in poor countries with little protection to begin with are often targeted, but people from wealthy countries like the United States also participate in this heinous crime. Human trafficking is an underground crime and very difficult to track, and more funding is desperately needed to help combat this exploitation of children. Child trafficking has affected and continues to affect millions of people.

Both of these issues are extremely important. But do you want to know the good news? Coronavirus and child trafficking are not mutually exclusive! We can talk about both! We can give plenty of time and awareness and money and attention to both of these causes, as well as plenty of others.

I know it’s impossible to give 100% of your attention to ten different social issues. It also gets mentally and physically draining to advocate for dozens of causes and give attention to everything else life requires.

I’m not saying you have to give a fair share to everything — people need to specialize in certain areas and causes so they have the ability to give that 100%. I’m just tired of seeing this constant competition for attention and watching equally important causes get undermined by someone who thinks the world is only big enough for one social issue at a time.

How My Anxiety Kept Me From Talking About My Anxiety

Realizing I had anxiety was one of the best things that ever happened to me. My life leading up to my sophomore year of college was a confusing and frustrating road of feeling anxious and nervous about everything but never understanding why. Finally being able to comprehend what was happening inside my brain was an overwhelming sense of relief and has since led to huge amounts of progress with my mental health.

But that progress was slow because when I was diagnosed with anxiety I didn’t tell a single person for almost two years.

It was a strange feeling. Here I was, finally able to explain why I spent hundreds of nights crying myself to sleep, why I couldn’t breathe when it was my turn to read a paragraph in front of the class, and why I questioned if my friends since elementary school actually liked me.

That moment in college, I wanted to throw open my apartment window and scream at the top of my lungs, “I GET IT NOW. THIS IS WHY I FEEL SO CRAPPY ALL THE TIME. I’M NOT CRAZY.” I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to tell people. I wanted to share my experience and hear experiences from others. I knew speaking out and talking would help — I could practically taste the relief I would one day feel from that — and I almost wrote a Facebook post about it right then and there.

But then, as it always does, my anxiety chimed in. And all the relief I was feeling was replaced with words of caution telling me to stay silent. Here are some of them:

If people know you have anxiety, they’ll treat you like a fragile person for the rest of your life.

I’ve always been an independent person. I like people to think of me as a strong, capable woman who doesn’t need to be taken care of. My anxiety told me that if I spilled the beans on my mental illness, everyone would suddenly look at me as a fragile little girl who needed help. Someone who couldn’t take care of herself. Someone who was too afraid to live life. Someone who needed help all the time.

I hold absolutely zero judgment towards people who want or need help because of a mental illness. (I really should ask for and accept help more willingly — it’s a great habit to practice.)

Looking at it rationally, the idea that more people might reach out to me as an act of kindness is not something I should have been worried about. But when has anxiety ever been rational?

The idea of people viewing me as “fragile” was so off-putting and scary that it kept my mouth shut for a long time.

If you talk about your anxiety, people will think you’re just looking for attention.

Let me give you a quick piece of advice I’ve learned over the years — if you’re worried that speaking out about something will make people think you’re looking for attention, you’re not looking for attention. People who stir up drama for their own gain aren’t worried about the attention they’ll seek because that’s exactly what they want. Being worried about it means that’s not what you want. (Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.)

When I started to push past the fear of being deemed a weak and incapable person, my next anxiety stressor was that people would think I was lying about my illness for attention. I didn’t get an official diagnosis for some time after I knew I had an anxiety disorder and the fear of not having proof to back up my claims totally freaked me out.

I would actually picture people demanding a doctor’s note in the comments section of a blog post or a social media post. What a worst-case scenario (that wouldn’t be that person’s business anyway) to worry about! But anxiety’s funny that way, isn’t she?

If people know you have anxiety, they’ll think you’re unstable, on medication, or suicidal.


I would never judge someone for being on medication, but there is a stigma out there and even though I wasn’t on medication at the time, just the idea that someone might think I was and judge my for it was terrifying.

My anxiety insisted my friends and family would view me as a ticking time bomb once they knew I had a disorder. I was afraid they would think I was unstable and suicidal. I was afraid my reputation would somehow be negatively affected.

None of these reasons make sense. Even as I write them, I’m thinking about how dumb a lot of this sounds and how easy it is to point out why my thought process was wrong. But that’s how anxiety works. It takes every rational thought you have and twists it into a knot in your chest.

My anxiety kept me from talking about my anxiety for so long, and I endured a lot of pain and isolation during that time. When I did start sharing my experience with others, it was a slow process and I’m still not very vocal about it. And that’s okay — never feel like you have to share your personal experiences with everyone. I just wanted to say that anxiety is weird and manipulative and stops a lot of people from living life. This is my experience.

You Can Have a Great Life and Still Have Anxiety

I’ve struggled with this concept ever since I first suspected I had anxiety, and I still struggle with it almost every day.

I have a really great life and I still have anxiety. I have a close family that would do anything for me, incredible friends who love me unconditionally, a strong support group in a church I love, and a deep faith in God. I have a job that allows me to live independently, the ability and means to travel often, and a dog I absolutely adore.

I have never had to deal with poverty, serious injuries, unexpected deaths, abusive households, or any of the countless other difficulties so many people are exposed to every day. I grew up surrounded by love and support and people who cared about me and believed in my dreams.

I can’t stress enough how aware and how thankful I am for all of this. But that awareness has caused its own problem: If my life is so great, why do I have anxiety? What reason do I have to worry and doubt so much of the good in my life?

This is so important to understand: You can have a great life and still have anxiety. Or depression. Or OCD or Bipolar Disorder or any other kind of mental illness. You don’t need to have had a traumatic experience or years of abuse to develop something like this. You can grow up loved and happy and lucky and still deal with mental illness.

Having depression doesn’t mean you’re choosing to be negative and checked out. Having anxiety doesn’t mean you’re choosing to stress about every little detail in your life. It’s the complete opposite, actually, and I cannot stress this enough:

We did not choose this. We do not want this.

Mental illness is really no different from physical illness. You can have a great life and sprain your ankle. You can have a great life and get cancer. And sure, just like there are things you can do to help with your physical health, there are also things you can do that can help with your mental health.

I absolutely agree that lifestyle choices like a healthy diet and frequent exercise can significantly improve mental health. Having a positive attitude and being optimistic is also completely legit. Intentionally dwelling on all your problems while watching a sad movie is not going to brighten your mood.

And when you have control over that, great. But you don’t always have control. Mental illness is a never-ending war, and inevitably you will lose some battles. There will be times — moments, days, weeks — where you cannot seem to feel happy no matter how hard you try. One day you might spend the entire afternoon with your best friends watching Disney movies and eating cookies and still feel like you’ll never be happy again.

Those are the feelings you can’t just decide to get rid of. Telling someone with depression to “just get over it” is like telling someone with a broken leg to “just walk it off.”

When you have a mental illness, even when you know everything is okay your mind is constantly fighting to tell you it’s not. And your mind doesn’t just tell you — it gives you a list of reasons and a very convincing argument that is sometimes too powerful to ignore. It is not you making the decision to be depressed or anxious — it is your mind.

Battling a mental illness is battling your brain. It is arguing against the negative and sometimes frightening thoughts that constantly run through your head. It is like someone is standing next to you incessantly telling you that you’re not good enough, you do everything wrong, and you shouldn’t even try. And even when you know you are loved and supported and surrounded by people who care about you, that voice begins to wear you down. It makes you second-guess everything. And sometimes you just get so tired of arguing with it that you give in and believe what it’s saying.

Mental illness is not your decision. You cannot choose one day to not have anxiety or depression or whatever it is you’re dealing with. If you could you would have gotten rid of this long ago, right? I know I would.

But you can choose to keep fighting. You can choose to keep living. You can choose to not give up after a particularly bad day. You can choose to try. You can choose to not let your illness win. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

7 Stereotypes about Anxiety and Why They’re Harmful

The only thing more difficult than having an anxiety disorder may be the false information and stereotypes that seem to revolve around it. While some of these assumptions may come from a good place, ultimately making a generalization or aligning your beliefs about anxiety with a stereotype is harmful to everyone experiencing the disorder. Here are eight common stereotypes about anxiety disorders and why they can be hurtful.

1. Anxiety always stems from trauma

While anxiety can be a side effect of a traumatic event, many people experience anxiety without it having any connection to a past experience. The Mayo Clinic identifies 10 different anxiety disorders and links anxiety to at least 15 different health and risk factors, with trauma being only one of those.

Why it’s harmful: The belief that anxiety always stems from trauma feeds right into another belief that someone who has not experienced a traumatic event cannot experience anxiety. This is untrue and can make people feel like their “reason” for anxiety isn’t valid or real enough to seek help.

2. Everyone experiences the same triggers

Mental illnesses are extremely complicated and affect everyone differently. While there are some more common anxiety triggers, such as medications, caffeine, or health issues, virtually anything can trigger someone’s anxiety.

Why it’s harmful: Assuming that everyone experiences the same anxiety triggers removes the validity of someone experiencing a less common trigger. It can make someone feel like they are being overdramatic or that they should try to hide their symptoms.

3. All someone needs is peace and quiet to feel better

While getting away from noise can be calming for some (me included), not everyone feels that way. Some people might feel trapped in their mind when they are alone or would rather move around and stay busy. It all depends on the person and their feelings should be validated.

Why it’s harmful: Offering suggestions and trying to help is never a bad thing, but make sure to listen to the person who is actually experiencing anxiety. They know what is going to work for them the best.

4. Therapy and medicine will cure it

Therapy and medication can be awesome and effective treatments for an anxiety disorder but they are not a guarantee. Some people have health conditions that don’t allow them to take medication and others might have negative experiences associate with therapists that don’t leave room for any positive change. Some people try both therapy and medication and still experience anxiety every day.

Why it’s harmful: Assuming there is a universal cure for anxiety in the form of therapy or medication makes people who don’t or can’t choose those options feel like they’re being stupid or making the wrong decision for their health. There are many other options for anxiety treatment.

5. Someone with anxiety is weak and fragile

Anxiety does not mean someone is weak. It may seem like someone with anxiety avoids things because of that, but they are just someone trying to do their best with what they have. Battling anxiety requires a deep inner strength that must be turned to again and again, which is anything but weak.

Why it’s harmful: No one wants to feel like they’re weak or incapable of taking care of themselves. The best way to support someone is not to baby them but to show them you know how strong they really are.

6. People with anxiety are antisocial and shy

One common type of anxiety is a social anxiety disorder, which tends to be manifested at social events where there are a lot of people. While social anxiety and shyness can be linked, this is not always the case. Plenty of extroverts who love being around people have social anxiety. They just need a break sometimes (or often) to make sure their symptoms don’t completely take over.

Why it’s harmful: The term “antisocial” has a pretty negative connotation to it and can make someone feel like they’re being rude for avoiding people. The term “shy” tends to be used with children and can make someone with anxiety feel like a child for choosing to forgo social situations.

7. People can just get over their anxiety

“Just stop worrying so much,” is probably one of the most overused answers to someone experiencing anxiety. Someone with an anxiety disorder has a mental illness and is as incapable of making it disappear as someone with a broken arm is incapable of making it heal instantly. Believe me, people with anxiety wish more than anything that they could just make it go away.

Why it’s harmful: Assuming anxiety is a choice completely removes the validity of what someone is going through. It can make someone who is experiencing anxiety feel like they aren’t trying hard enough to fix it or that people think they are making it up, which can make it difficult to seek treatment.

A Typical Day with Anxiety

Since I’ve started talking about it, I’ve been realizing how difficult it can be to explain what it’s like to have anxiety. Even after I spend hours crafting a long post or filming a video that I feel like accurately portrays what I want it to, I still get comments like “Well, just stop worrying about it.” Sigh. So I’m going to keep trying different ways you can look at it to get a better idea of what this is like.

My anxiety seems to manifest itself mostly in social situations and by making me incredibly self-conscious. This post may seem almost comical because even when I look back through it I think “why would I worry about that,” but hopefully you can see just how exhausting even mild anxiety is and be more forgiving to people who deal with these thoughts every day.

A Typical Day with Anxiety

Wake up. What time is is? Did I oversleep? 

Check phone. No, I’m OK. Today is going to be a long day. I have a lot to do. I hope I don’t get called on in class. What if I do get called on? Do I know the material well enough? Maybe I should study before class.

Look through social media. I feel like everyone is doing fun things and I’m not. I should do more fun things. I should get out there more. I want to join a club or something. But what if I say something stupid on the first day? Everyone will remember that for the rest of the year. Plus I wouldn’t know anyone and it’d be weird to join halfway through the semester and what if no one likes me and then I’d have to plan it around my school and work schedule…I don’t think it’s worth it.

Get out of bed. Shower. What should I wear today? It’s going to be cold in the morning but warm in the afternoon, so do I dress for the cold or for the heat? If I wear a sweater everyone’s going to stare at me when it gets hot. But if I wear a t-shirt everyone’s going to stare at me as I walk to school and wonder why I’m crazy enough to wear a t-shirt when it’s cold outside. 

Get dressed. Put on a jacket. Walk to school. Why is no one else wearing a jacket? Everyone else is in short-sleeves. Am I literally the only person on campus who wore long sleeves today?Everyone is looking at me. I should stop and take off my jacket. But then everyone would think that I wasn’t smart enough to check the weather this morning. I’ll just get to class quickly. 

Walk into class. Only a couple people are already sitting down. Am I in the right class? I know this is my sixth week of school, but what if I’m not in the right class? Or the professor changed rooms today and I didn’t get the memo? Do I recognize any of these people? I don’t recognize them. I’ll sit in the corner so if this is the wrong class I can leave without anyone noticing.

Other people start to arrive. I recognize her. Thank goodness. This is the right class. I hope we don’t have to get into pairs for anything. I don’t know anyone here. Who should I ask if we have to partner up? That girl looks nice. Shoot, her friend just sat next to her. Oh, please don’t make us pair up.

Professor starts teaching class. I have a thought about that. But no one else is raising their hands about it. Maybe it was a stupid thought. Besides, I never talk in class so if I talked this one time everyone would be super surprised. What if I stutter or something? That would be embarrassing. It’s probably not worth it.

Nearing end of class: I hope he doesn’t go overtime. I can’t be late to my next class. I’ll walk in and everyone will stare and watch me until I sit down. My professor might say something to me and then my face would turn red and I wouldn’t know what to say and that would be so embarrassing. 

Walking to next class: Everyone is staring at me. Is my backpack unzipped? Is my fly down? Is my shirt getting pulled up? Is there something on my face? Is my hair sticking out? Are my jeans too short? Am I walking funny? Do I look angry? Just stare at the ground and keep walking.

Next class: I’m hungry. But if I eat a granola bar the wrapper will be loud and I’l annoy everyone. But if I don’t eat anything my stomach will growl and that will be annoying too. I’ll just drink a lot of water. But then I’ll have to go to the bathroom and I’m meeting someone for lunch in an hour but if I go before I might be late and I hate it when people are late so I can’t go before and risk it but I don’t know if I’ll have time afterwards. 

Next class: It’s getting cold in here. I want to put on my jacket but it’s in my backpack and I’d have to unzip it what if it gets caught on my zipper or something and people notice? And what if I’m putting it on and I can’t find the other sleeve because I do that a lot and I’m this awkward person struggling to put a jacket on and people tell their friends about me after class? I’ll just wait.

Meeting a friend for lunch: Where is she? I’m here at the right time, right? And at the right place? Why hasn’t she texted me? Oh no, did I come here on the wrong day? No, it’s the right day. Well, I’ll just sit here and try to pretend like I’m doing something entertaining and I’m not a loser who doesn’t have any friends. I feel like everyone is staring at me again. They probably feel sorry for me.

Friend arrives. Eat and talk: I wonder if I eat weird. Some people look weird when they eat. Am I one of those people? Did I get my reading done for my next class. Oh crap, I forgot. I hope there isn’t a quiz. And if there is I hope it isn’t one of those where we have to grade each other’s work because the person grading mine will see that I missed all the questions and they’ll think it’s funny and think I’m a slacker or I’m stupid.

Lull in conversation: Oh no, we ran out of things to say. What do I say? Say something. I’m so boring. I bet she only joined me for lunch because she felt bad for me. She probably doesn’t want to be here. She doesn’t really want to be my friend. She probably goes back to her friends and jokes about how awkward I am. No, that’s mean. She’s too nice to do that. But she still probably doesn’t want to be here.

Next class: I have that movie thing on Friday. Why did I agree to do that? No, I like these people and I should hang out with them. I spend so much time by myself. I should get out more. But I like spending time by myself. What if there are people I don’t know? What time should I get there? What if I can’t find parking? What if I go to the wrong apartment? What should I wear?

Work: I’m only going to know a few people there I bet. I’ll just talk to them the whole time and follow them around. But what if I annoy them? I know I annoy people when I do that. I’m like a child. What will I talk about? What if the people I know leave for something? What if they aren’t there at all? What if I have the date wrong? What if I say something stupid? What if I make a joke and no one laughs? What time should I leave? How can I get out of it?

Getting home: Finally. Alone. 

Falling asleep: Hey, let’s worry about that party again. *Repeats every thought of the day.Remembers how I raised my hand in class and my professor didn’t notice so I had to put it down all awkwardly even though everyone noticed. Thinks about what my interview is going to be like for a job I might apply for in two years. Relives that time I slipped on the ice and fell off the bus in the seventh grade. Thinks about how I’m never going to accomplish anything because my ideas are all stupid. Also thinks about how I’m not working hard enough at my goals so I need to step that up.* Crap, I’ve been laying here for three hours. I’m going to be tired tomorrow and I have a lot to get done. *Worries about being tired until I finally fall asleep*

Congrats if you made it this far! It’s a lot, and this isn’t even half the thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis. I know a lot of it is ridiculous and believe me, I spend a lot of time talking myself down from the anxiety highs I get. But my point is that I can’t control these thoughts, and neither can anyone else with anxiety. It’s frustrating and annoying and exhausting. So just keep in mind that you never know what someone is thinking or going through, so be nice to people. 🙂