I am Ava Thompson, a 23-year-old graphic designer. Like many in the creative profession, my portfolio reflects not just my skill but the fragments of my soul poured into every design. Today, however, I invite you to glimpse a different facet of my journey, one where my creativity intersects with a psychological maze that is generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
From the moment dawn breaks, the fight against an invisible adversary commences. Waking up is less a fresh beginning and more an uphill battle. As consciousness creeps in, so does an incessant hum of worry, setting an unwelcome tempo for my day. A swarm of questions sting my tranquillity – “Am I doing enough? Will I ever be enough? What if I fail?” The possibility of failure, real or imagined, feeds my inner turmoil, amplifying the uncertainty.
The nature of my profession, being a remote worker in a pandemic era, introduces its own set of unique challenges. The lines between my workspace and personal sanctuary blur, compounding my unease. The four walls of my home transform into a claustrophobic cell, breeding isolation and amplifying my apprehension. My solitary existence devoid of social interaction, heightens the sense of fear, and further fuels my anxiety.
The worry, the anxiety, it’s not just a buzzing background noise. At times, it is a formidable presence, incapacitating and immobilising. Moments when I should be awash with creativity instead find me staring at a glaringly blank computer screen, reflecting an equally empty mind. Each ticking second on the clock mirrors my escalating anxiety, amplifying the vacuum of ideas, replacing creativity with an echoing void of fear.
The defining moment came when I was tasked with a major project for a high-profile client. The weight of responsibility set off a tsunami of anxiety, leading to panic attacks that replaced the tranquillity of the night with a terrifying chaos. Sleep eluded me, while fear gnawed at my sanity, the dread of failing the deadline, disappointing my boss, even the looming threat of job loss held me captive.
But in the midst of this emotional maelstrom, a moment of self-realisation pierced the anxiety. I understood that I had to challenge my fear, to dismantle its control over my life. Taking the first step was the most daunting – admitting my struggle with mental health. It was an uncomfortable acknowledgment, a terrifying admission, yet it was the moment my journey towards healing began.
I turned to therapy, where I learned to untangle the intricate web of anxiety. It was a process of understanding my disorder and gaining tools to manage it. I began incorporating practices like mindful breathing, yoga, and routine breaks into my day, creating a safety net to prevent the burnout that had once felt inevitable. Gradually, I noticed a shift; I felt less chained to my fears and more in control of my life.
Today, I am not “cured” of my anxiety; that’s not how mental health works. Anxiety still pays occasional visits, but it no longer defines me. I have learned to navigate the stormy seas that once threatened to drown me, and each day is another step towards mastering my course.
If my story resonates with you, if my experience mirrors your own, I urge you to remember: seeking help is not weakness, it is strength. Voicing your struggles is not admission of defeat, it’s an assertion of control. You are not alone in your journey, and remember, you are much stronger than the tempest that attempts to subdue you.
Ava Quinn is a graphic designer recognised for her engaging visual narratives. Living with generalized anxiety disorder, Ava turns her challenges into strengths, inspiring others with her resilience.