Escaping the Ghosts by Victoria R Wolf 5-5-24 original

Escaping the Ghosts

One of my favorite lines from a Tears for Fears song, “If you lay among the graves, you will see other ghosts,” hits me hard whenever I hear it. For me, it reminds me not to linger too long in the dark places in my mind. The longer I stay, the more dark things I find, and the next thing I know, I’m far down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression. And from there, it’s a long slog to see the light again.

I’ve had anxiety for as long as I have memories, and I ungracefully straddle the fence between despair and elation nearly daily. It’s who I am, and I accept it with the promise to myself to always walk toward the light, no matter how slow the pace.

Painting and writing give me the outlet to process it all once the paint is dry and the blog has been posted. I have a good sense of what I felt, what I learned, and what impact the process had on me emotionally and physically.

Escaping the Ghosts by Victoria R Wolf 5-5-24 closeup

With Escaping the Ghosts, I had to pull out a “victory” in the midst of overwhelming stress and anxiety. I am very happy to have survived the emotional drama the painting brought up, and now, it’s time to make sense of it.

Today, I couldn’t compartmentalize the stress and enjoy a moment with my canvas. The anxiety was at the forefront with every stroke of paint and scribble of my paint marker. But, you know what, that’s okay. Well, it’s better than okay, it’s amazing!

Not only was I able to avoid the rabbit hole, but it increased the girth of my perseverance muscles and further validated my ability to be resilient in the face of what appears to be overwhelming anxiety. Woohoo!

To help manage my anxiety, I take deep breaths and distract myself with other thoughts or activities, but in the end, the anxious thoughts persist. Total anxiety eradication is impossible. And that fact gives me anxiety! But, when I take a step back and deep breath, I realize I have made considerable progress in being able to temper my anxiety: I could not say this six months ago.

In the past, I remember thinking that I wanted my anxiety to go away completely. I thought if it did, I would be a normal, functioning person, like everyone else. Well, that line of thinking is riddled with emotionally charged assumptions and errors, and I know that. Eliminating all anxiety will never be possible, but possessing the ability to quell it when it becomes overwhelming is the key. 

I am a positive, can-do person who struggles with anxiety and depression. That is who I am. The more I desire to be someone I am not, the less I will be able to be the best version of who I am. That is the lesson, in some shape or form, each and every painting shows me. This painting was a more potent version of the familiar lesson, and there’s no question I needed it.

Anxiety is not something that’s talked about as openly and supportingly as I would like it to be. I think many of us suffer daily from the tight grips of anxiousness and don’t feel we can reveal our struggles to even our closest friends and families. I feel that talking about my anxiety here, with you, is a much-needed first step to advocating for more openness and transparency for all of us.

I would love to hear from you and have you join me in this discussion. Leave a comment below, and let’s bring anxiety out of our shadows and into the light.


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