Anxiety: A Prison of the Mind

The challenge of service providers is to ensure that we are able and capable of reaching those who are entrusted to our care. This becomes a more difficult proposition when you consider service providers often have their own concerns when it comes to their personal mental health.

Services available to professionals are severely limited and it is far too often left up to the professional to self-asses and remedy their own issues. Depression and Anxiety are the chief adversaries of professionals who offer counseling and therapy to the masses.

So this month we asked individuals who “heal” for a living how exactly they go about healing themselves and coping with what they identify as it goes with the territory kinds of issues.

Catava Burton is one of those triumphant people. Catava is a public school teacher coach/professional development facilitator and adjunct faculty member with 17 years experience counseling and teaching youth and adolescents with emotional, mental and behavioral disorders. What follows is Ms. Burton’s thought process on Anxiety.


Anxiety Is a Prison in My Mind

(This article is used by permission and originally appeared in The Mighty)

Anxiety Inmate Profile:
I am a prisoner in my own mind. My inmate number is 300.02. I was arrested in 2007 by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders due to trauma. My felonies are worry, fear, irritability, lack of concentration and sleep irregularities. Headaches and insomnia are my misdemeanors. When you visit me, I’ll be wearing teal (anxiety awareness), smiling on the outside, but internally suffering from acid reflux, dizziness and secretly assessing for any signs of danger.

The Anxiety Prison:
When I’m arrested, sometimes my anxiety jail visits are for hours. Other times, it’s days or download-8weeks. Just expect when you visit, I may not be myself. My mind may be overcrowded with obsessive or racing thoughts. When you attempt to visit, I may not want company at all and deny seeing you. I know it’s all in my mind, but it’s hard to rationalize when I’m feeling stressed, depressed or just not like myself.

My correctional officers (friends and family) protect me when I’m feeling down. They keep me safe, call or text, validate my irrational thoughts and testify for my love, character and loyalty. However, when I’m arrested, I must remain silent. Anything I say or do in my fight, flight or freeze moment, will definitely be used against me in a court of law (work, relationships and leisure activities).

You know, I do receive counsel from my lawyer (mental health professional). My lawyer maintains my mental stability through active listening, empathy and reassurance. My lawyer prepares me for the trial by giving me coping mechanisms. The trial is survival. It is daunting because it is a task I must work through daily.images-30

There are days when I do not listen to my lawyer nor correctional officers. This is not because I do not want to but because I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I have to live up to so many professional and personal expectations. I cannot always see my lawyer. She is really busy and has a huge fee! She assigned a probation officer (medication and alternative therapies) to help me cope and just simply to maintain.

images-34Anxiety Rehab:
To my visitors, I have a criminal record and I serve time in my own mental prison. Although I’ve been both acquitted and found guilty, I can postulate I will commit another felony or misdemeanor. No worries. I am digging and creating a secret tunnel out of this mental prison. My tunnel includes self-forgiveness, advocacy, awareness, education, therapy and saying “No.” Dear visitors, I am hoping the next time you visit, I am no longer in prison but on the road to rehabilitation and recovery.


To get more insights from Catava Burton log on to to read her contributions and how to cope with the many issues that cause us to seek our mental health services in our communities.

I want to thank Catava Burton for her contribution and look forward to her “recovery” so we can be in the privileged position of using her insights in the future.

As usual, I invite you to leave a comment below. I would love to hear your take on this issue.

If you like News You Can Use, you wish to be A Community of One and you realize that Stigma won’t eradicate itself then subscribe to a Nu Vision and Lighthouse blog. Stay apart of the conversation! Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter. Let us know what you like or don’t like about the position taken on any of these issues. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Until next time,





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