Dear Anxiety,

Joel Kaskinen
2 min readJul 16, 2022


I look back on my time living in Gunnison, after Alex died, and I can’t believe I didn’t see all the ways you showed up in my life.

You were there with me, all the time. In my chest, beating quickly, sending pulses of blood into my face and neck.

You took the shape of a chain lock on my apartment door, that I frivolously and meticulously clicked into place every time I entered my apartment. I feared that someone — specifically, a gunman — would enter at any moment.

This fear isn’t off base. While I have no real reason to fear a gunman — other than the general climate of the world we live in — I have every reason to fear gun violence. I have every reason for you to take form in the worries about who or what is entering my space, both physically and mentally.

You are here with me, each time I put myself in new social settings. I no longer am the butterfly that swirls around the room, in and out of every nook and cranny, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of anyone who will listen. You overcome me now, and we’re the bashful wallflowers, white-knuckling our glasses and finding comfort in the friendly embrace that alcohol gives.

I found my solace in my Jeep, when home no longer felt like home. You kept me from living my life, and you took the form of fear that overcame me.

You became the new skin that I lived in while I navigated grief and loss and trauma. I shed my old skin like a snake, and wrapped myself in your chilling embrace.

Anxiety, you’ve become my twin flame, if you will. You’ve overshadowed me for months and I’ve allowed you to. The truth is, I don’t know how to live without you anymore. But I’m not trying to rid myself of you anymore either.

It’s time to embrace you, anxiety, and live my life to the fullest with you by my side. Anxiety or not, I’m Joel Kaskinen, bitch, and I am stronger than I’ve given myself credit for.