10/04/2013 12:31 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Transforming Anxiety: From Difficulty to Alchemy

My 22-year-old niece, Alyssa Ewart, is a college student studying to become a teacher. She wrote the following about her ability to experience and confront her anxiety. For those of you with anxiety, it may speak to some of your own feelings. For others who know someone with anxiety, it will open your heart to a depth of understanding. For those of you who have not been impacted by anxiety, you can substitute any personal demon or difficulty, for the metaphor of what anxiety -- or any limitation -- can do for us if we are willing to transform it with courage, tenacity and hope. Embracing our humanity, being able to be real about our limitations, is the place where healing can begin.

Thank you, Alyssa, for showing yourself and others the way.

Anxiety is the pain in your stomach, shaking hands uncontrollable.
It's when you want to say something but everyonewilllookatme and i'll shake.

When you think about every possibility of anything ever. Over-analyze 'til there's nothing left to analyze.
The sweat above your upper lip, not because it's hot out.
Both arms go numb. You don't want to fight, you'd rather fly away.

Trapped and screaming inside, clenching your jaw and grasping the edges of your chair to keep from losing control.

Your mind is an overflowing chasm of constant chaos and ongoing battles.

A mumblejumble of who knows what.

And yet nothing comes out from your lips.

Everything you could say fades away. You look at everyone's faces and you think, no. They'll think I'm weird, they'll think i'm uglystupidrude, and you obsess.

You pick at things on your body, creating holes, leaving scars.
Uncomfortable, shaky, tense.

Grinding teeth as you dream. Dreaming of freedom.

It took two minutes to think of, thirty seconds to say, and you think about it for five minutes afterward.

Baggy clothes, cold feet, fidgets.

Clenched fists and sweaty palms that leave wet prints on everything you touch.

And yet you wake up every day. You breathe in and out. You down that coffee in your favorite mug because morning rituals make you feel at ease.

You are damn strong, a fighter. You whisper that to yourself as you pack up your things and walk towards the door, checking one more time to make sure everything's off and closed.

The sun welcomes you as you exit your castle and a new day of endless possibilities awaits.

Leaves crunch underneath you as you walk. Persistent. Determined.

Wind blows hair out of your face to uncover hidden treasure.

You are brave. You are brave. You are brave.

And you have already won.