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By Hannah Mosser, MA, LPC

This blog will make sense to anyone reading it, but my targeted audience this time is for anyone that enjoys (or is familiar with) Taylor Swift. I’ll disclose that I quite love Taylor Swift, and was so fortunate to attend her Eras Tour in Philly on Mother’s Day. I know that many of my (mostly teenage) clients recently shared in this same privilege, so this blog is written with you in mind!

If you are not a Taylor Swift fan, you are likely familiar with her latest album that was released in October 2022, “Midnights.” A song that stood out to me when I first listened to it was Anti-Hero. If you’re unfamiliar, here are some of the lyrics:

I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser
Midnights become my afternoons
When my depression works the graveyard shift
All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room…
It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me
At tea time, everybody agrees
I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror
It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero

If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering why I am writing about a Taylor Swift song as a mental health professional. Well, I’m glad you asked. When I first heard this song, I thought “anxiety.” Taylor’s naming so many attributes that tend to be consistent with a person who is struggling with anxiety: low self-esteem getting older but not wiser, regularly being awake in the middle of the night, thinking about those that you’ve wronged (“ghosted”) in some way. The chorus practically screams thinking errors: “I’m the problem, IT’S ME, which is confirmed by everyone” (or so she believes). Not to mention the exhaustion of “rooting for the anti-hero.” According to Google, the anti-hero is a character “who lacks conventional heroic attributes.” How tiring it is, or can be, to continue cheering yourself on, when it feels like you are unlikely to succeed.

So, let’s talk anxiety.

1. Anyone can experience anxiety

If the queen that is Taylor Swift is struggling with mental health issues (in this case, managing the magnitude of some of her emotions – feeling overwhelmed or stressed, feeling like she is the problem in various situations), and is broadcasting it to the world, let’s just agree that these feelings are normal. You are not weird, broken, less-than, or sub-par if you find yourself in situations or seasons in life that you are struggling with the weightiness of your world. We are all there at one point or another. Taylor Swift included.

2. Anxiety is experienced in different ways

Let’s identify some red flag (or bejeweled flag?!) behaviors that might indicate you are experiencing anxiety:

– Difficulty sleeping
– Constantly ruminating on past events or circumstances
– Often overthinking future scenarios that have not yet occurred
– Preoccupied with what others are thinking about you
– Overeating or under-eating
– Physical symptoms: clenched jaw, tense shoulders, restlessness (shaking legs, arms, etc.)

So many people, to include clients and individuals that I know in my personal life describe how difficult falling asleep can be. Often, people will say that they get lost in their thinking; they are overwhelmed by all sorts of details about their past or their future, which causes sleep to be difficult to achieve. This is a very typical experience of those that are dealing with anxious thinking.

Another statement that I hear often is that an individual “knows what _____ was thinking.” For instance, I’ll often hear it described that “so and so thought I looked stupid…,” to which I’ll usually ask how they know what someone else was thinking? In counseling, we call this “mind reading” (a belief that an individual can know what someone else is thinking). Again, this is something that many of us are guilty of doing at one point or another, but if this is happening in excess or causing significant self-doubt, you may be struggling with anxiety.

3. Don’t discount the physical impact of anxiety

Third, a symptom, or cluster of symptoms, that tends to be under-named in relation to anxiety is the physical aspect of one’s functioning. Many individuals will sleep with their jaw clenched when they are feeling stressed out. Even more common, many people experience stress headaches, which often develop out of tightness in the shoulders and neck (where the body holds tension). Individuals will sometimes notice a difference in their food intake (either overeating or under-eating), when under stress or anxiety.

Lime Tree Counseling wants to help you

If you are reading any of these symptoms and thinking “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me,” you may be struggling with managing anxiety. If these words resonate with you, please reach out to me or another therapist at Lime Tree Counseling, and we would be honored to meet with you and help equip you with new ways of thinking that assist with decreasing anxiety. In addition to Anxiety Counseling, we provide addictions counseling, grief counseling, trauma counseling. Our office is in Lower Gwynedd, PA and we offer online counseling in Pennsylvania, online counseling in North Carolina and online counseling in Colorado.