Those who live with anxiety know how much it affects them day to day and can make it feel impossible to balance everything. That includes work, relationships and even those precious zzz’s.
Clare Kayden Hines, a 32-year-old artist from Berkeley, California, perfectly captures some of those frustrating plights in her illustrations, which she shares regularly on her Instagram. Hines, who lived with untreated anxiety for years until she was recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, said turning her experiences into humorous art helps her cope.
“My anxiety makes me feel like I’m never doing enough, accomplishing enough, and that I’m constantly falling behind or disappointing someone,” she told HuffPost.
“I think all of us — women, in particular — are under a huge amount of pressure to do and be everything to everyone,” she continued. “My art is my reaction to these pressures and expectations. It allows me to express my frustrations and anxieties out loud, and also laugh at them.”
One of the most rewarding parts of channeling her anxiety into her work has been the reaction from other people who also live with anxiety. Hines said it helps to know there are many others dealing with the same thing.
“A lot of the time I don’t know if anyone will relate to the weird stuff I put out there, but I do it anyway — and am pleasantly surprised and happy when I find out I’m not the only one,” she said. “It’s a reminder that I’m not alone or crazy for feeling the way I do.”
It’s true that Hines certainly isn’t isolated in her experience: An estimated 40 million American adults live with an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The condition can be physically taxing, causing problems like headaches, a racing heartbeat and stomach issues.
But the emotional symptoms can be even more difficult for some people to deal with, and can include rumination, excessive worry, self-doubt and more. Those negative thoughts are the crux of Hines’ anxiety.
“Everyone’s anxiety is different, but if I were to give my younger self some advice, I’d say no accomplishment is worth driving yourself into the ground for or sacrificing your health,” Hines said. “We can only withstand so much pressure and negative talk before it backfires on us and impacts our bodies and minds.”
Ultimately, Hines hopes that her illustrations don’t just help her work through her anxiety, but that they also inspire others to talk about their own experiences and embrace their mental health.
“My goal, beyond my art and my account being a creative outlet for me, is to make people feel less ‘alone’ by seeing themselves in my posts. The more we talk about the things we feel ashamed of, or think are abnormal, the more we’ll realize we’re not alone,” she said.
“If all of us shared how we felt with each other, we’d realize all these stigmas weren’t actually stigmas, they’re normal and common,” Hines added. “And they’re only as scary and powerful as we let them be.”
We second that. Check out more of Hines’ artwork on Instagram.