health + wellness

So, what does the anxiety look like? Nothing at all.


Depression is a monster, and anxiety is its friend. Every day, the two feed each other.  All the while, I succeed.

High functioning anxiety looks like normality. It hides behind polished social media posts, perfectionism, good grades, and a busy social life. 

I’m sitting in class, laughing at a joke the professor said. But, if you look towards my hands, you will find I am rubbing the fabric of my shirt together- a trick a friend of mine taught me to help bring me back to the moment when my mind starts telling me to panic. 

I didn’t answer your text. I cancelled our plans; I’m just really busy this week. But, if you walk in my room, you’ll see that I’m not doing anything at all.  But, how does one of the most social people in the friend group explain that anxiety is winning today, that I simply don’t have the energy to get myself out of bed? So, I’m just really busy. I won’t be able to make it out.

You and I are having a conversation, but the words you can’t hear are the ones written in my inner monologue; it’s a desperate attempt to calm my racing thoughts, my racing heartbeat. I am trying to talk myself down from the utter panic and fear that is invading my body. 

And it comes out of nowhere. 

There is rarely any explanation.

The friends and family that know I struggle with anxiety can recognize a panic attack. After I have calmed myself down, always, without fail, I get asked, “What happened?” This is the hardest thing to explain. Anxiety looks different on everyone. I wear it differently than the next person. It is the same dress on very different bodies; hugging my waist differently than hers, the hem falling below her knees, but above mine. Difficult situations are certainly harder to bear with anxiety, and each person has different triggers. But, anxiety does not need a trigger.

One second I am laughing, genuinely enjoying myself. The next I feel my heartbeat quickening in my ears. Sometimes my legs feel numb. Sometimes my face is tingling. I have gone to the hospital multiple times, in genuine fear for my life. Each and every time the doctor says, in a tone as though I should be relieved, “It’s only anxiety.” 

But you wouldn’t guess that I have anxiety. I have a good life. 

But anxiety has a voice, too. It says, “Stop being so needy. Is she really your friend? You aren’t smart. She’s so much prettier than you. Why do you even bother? What if they hate you? Why did you say that? Why did you do that? What is wrong with you? There is no way he loves you. Be less like that. You aren’t genuine. You don’t know what you’re doing. You are not qualified. Get your shit together. They’re going to leave you. You are letting them down. You aren’t going to make it. Nothing is even wrong. Why are you being such a baby? People have bigger issues. Stop being a brat.”

And no one can hear it, but me.

It’s the soundtrack to an otherwise perfectly charmed life. And it is a charmed life. I have wonderful friends to love, a beautiful boy to love, passions to dive into. I have places to visit and the means to make it there. I have access to an education. I have a beautiful family. I have precious memories for my mind to swim in when the present is not as warm. I have a heartbeat. I am whole. I am happy.

However charmed it may be, it is a charmed life, with anxiety.  And you only see the charms. 

So, what does the anxiety look like? Nothing at all.


Author, Hannah Barrett

Hannah is a member of the Gold Hand Journalism Team

Hi, I’m Hannah! I am a Business Administration and Graphic Communications student, from Dallas, Tx, currently studying in Oneonta, NY. I’m a music enthusiast, an admirer of art, a mountain maniac, a writer, and an outright travel junkie. I believe life should be all about authenticity, love, and creativity. I believe in women complimenting each other at bathroom sinks. And I believe in always working hard in order to play hard. Hemingway said it best: “Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." x

Instagram: @hannah_barrett


Graphics, Annie Kate

Annie is a member of the Gold Hand Graphics Team

Annie Kate is a magical realism writer, memory-preservation poet, and visual artist currently residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is fond of reminding others of their inherent lightness through her triad of traits. You can find her hiking very small "mountains" in Tulsa, riding her bike around town with her beloved partner, inventing a questionable new recipe in her kitchen, or taking a catnap in a patch of sunlight. 

Instagram: @annniekate


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