Jan 7

5. How My Anxiety Felt Like Failure

Failing hurts. Feeling like a failure hurts more.

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On some days, I not only felt like I was failing, but I felt like a failure.

Sometimes in these emails I will share stories from my own anxiety journey. I feel strongly that I can’t suggest action that I have not taken myself, and it helps me feel like everything I went through was not for nothing.

Everyone fails. We all make mistakes and do things that don’t turn out the way we want them to. I fail. But by nature I am not one to fail quietly. When I fail, I don’t go down easily. Maybe this is a feature of my personality. Maybe this is a flaw. It depends on the day.

When I struggling with anxiety and depression, often felt like I was failing. The worst part of feeling that failure was that anxiety made me feel like I was failing easily and passively. I was giving up too easily. I was retreating and letting things happen to me rather than making them happen.

I really felt pretty lost on some days. Like I had completely lost my grip on “me”. It was a really horrible feeling. When you are generally bold in action and proactive in the way you approach life, sitting on the sofa afraid to go get milk and eggs when your wife asks for help is not where you want to be.

The anxiety and the fear had taken something from me. That was not Drew sitting on that sofa. I don’t know who it was, but I did not like him.

Fear is hard for everyone. I was certainly afraid. I’m totally OK telling you that. In fact, I was afraid all the damn time if I’m being honest. But really, the worst part was not the fear. It was that feeling of passive failure. And the worst part of the worst part was that for a long time I would respond to the feeling of passive failure with more passivity. I would sit and think about it, ruminate on it, hate it, and get more and more upset with myself. I would go over all the ways I could fix it, but that was only happening in my head while I continued to sit on the sofa. Then my passive failure to fix my passive failure problem made me feel even worse.

These were the moments when feeling like I was failing became feeling like a failure. Those were not good moments.

So what’s the point of the story? The point is to simply tell you that if you are feeling like a failure, I get you. There’s more to this than just panic attacks and intrusive thoughts. There are emotions, and feeling this sense of failure will trigger a bunch of them. If you’re feeling them today, that’s OK. I’ve been there.

Do your best to take a small step or two in the right direction, and tomorrow will be another day. This will not be forever. You are not alone in what you feel. I - and a very large community of lovely humans - will cheer for you when you are down.

Sometimes, we just need to hear that.

On Monday we’ll talk about the habit of always speaking your fear out loud.


“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

- Winston Churchill

Every Friday I’ll share one of my favorite quotes. They’ll often have direct application in recovery, but sometimes they’re just generally funny, inspiring, or thought-provoking.  I hope you enjoy them