Megan Thee Stallion’s “Anxiety” Gives Me A Voice As An Anxious Person

Photo: Todd Owyoung/NBC/Getty Images.
I had a panic attack in the middle of an indie R&B concert last month.
It wasn’t the first time it happened. Big crowds always overwhelmed me, and I was known in my friend group as the person who cried at school, the grocery store, and, notoriously, at the club. Although I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life, it wasn’t until my 22nd birthday that I admitted to my primary care doctor that it was hard for me to function in social environments. He prescribed medication to help ease my anxiety and I started to see a counselor. I also attended yoga classes to lessen the frequency of my panic attacks. Unfortunately, as my doctor reminds me often, “There’s not a one size fits all approach to dealing with chronic anxiety.” Even on some of my best days, I still have panic attacks.
Navigating anxiety as a Black person can be difficult and is often underrepresented in pop culture. Recently, I found solace in Megan Thee Stallion’s “Anxiety.”
Often, we place celebrities on pedestals, while actively ignoring that they experience pain and heartache like the rest of us. When I heard Megan’s song for the first time in August, I felt like the lyrics were wrapping me in a blanket and holding me close. As my best friend and I pushed our way through the crowd at the concert the night of my panic attack, I thought of Megan’s lyrics.
She opens the song in a hushed voice, explaining that she has a lot to get off of her chest. The lyrics resonated with me because my panic attacks make me feel like I’m carrying a large weight that I have a hard time lifting.
My previous panic attacks were triggered by overstimulation. Sometimes bright colours, loud noises, and close contact with other people would send a wave of anxiety through my body, and I would end my nights in a fetal position as an attempt to self-soothe. But at the concert that night, it was more complicated.
As the performance set came to an end, I searched through the crowd for my best friend. My phone buzzed, and I received a text from her saying that she went outside to get some air. I looked towards the door, but before I could plan my escape, I saw someone wave and move closer to me.
“I think I know you from TikTok.”
My stomach dropped. I looked to see two girls with their cell phones dangling from their hands, asking to take a picture with me. They explained that my content online helped  them feel less alone navigating Blackness and queerness. I obliged, out of the fear that I would seem like a snob if I didn’t.
“You’re a real life bad b-tch, I wish I was like you,” one of them remarked as they snapped a selfie with me. Meanwhile, my heart was racing and my palms were sweaty. As I was standing in the room, I felt disconnected from my body. I was there physically, with a smile on my face, but mentally, I was in distress.  It was a telltale sign that I was having a panic attack.
As my heart rate continued to increase, Megan’s song once again crossed my mind, and I could hear the first verse in my head as I was standing next to the two girls.
“I’m a bad b-tch and I got bad anxiety”
When her album, Traumazine, was released, I immediately found myself intrigued by the title. Megan described in an Instagram post that Traumazine was a reference to her trauma. She explained that the name describes the “chemical released in the brain when it is forced to deal with painful emotions caused by traumatic events and experiences.”

Often, we place celebrities on pedestals, while actively ignoring that they experience pain and heartache like the rest of us. When I heard Megan’s song for the first time in August, I felt like the lyrics were wrapping me in a blanket and holding me close.

Amaris ramey
I played “Anxiety” and found myself reflected in the lyrics. Throughout the song, Megan describes the issues that she faces as she navigates social media and fame while also dealing with grief, trauma, and anxiety. She describes what many Black women know to be true — having anxiety doesn’t fit the mold of being an independent Black woman. She points out in the first verse, how stigmatized it is for her to deal with mental health issues.
“They keep sayin’ I should get help, but I don’t even know what I need/ They keep sayin’ speak your truth, but at the same time, say they don’t believe.”
What Megan brings to light in this verse are the empty gestures that people often offer when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. She admits that she doesn’t actually know what she needs to alleviate her pain, but that when she tries to speak up about it, people don’t believe her.
I thought of the time last year when I went to a Halloween party with one of my childhood friends. I hadn’t seen her in over 10 years, so I made sure to disclose while in the line waiting to get in that I have an anxiety disorder and will more than likely cry in the bathroom. She looked at me and laughed.
“You don’t have anxiety,” she asserted. “You’re always so social and talkative.” Her comment suggested that anxiety has a specific look, but it doesn’t.
As I played Megan’s verse, I started to think about the ways that Black women’s pain has been historically dismissed. For centuries, Black women’s bodies have been used for experimentation purposes, and a belief was upheld that Black people don’t feel pain. This could be seen in the medical industry and dates back to enslavement in the Americas. Black women received no mercy in their womanhood, which is what in part inspired Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a woman.”
In pop culture, Black mental health has also been stigmatized. R&B singer Summer Walker faced backlash when admitting that they have social anxiety.  Walker’s admittance was written off as people claimed that they were faking it.
As Megan’s first verse continues, she explains:
“Y'all don't even know how I feel/ I don't even know how I deal”
“Anxiety” captured the overwhelming feelings that I have had to navigate while being perceived as someone who is supposed to innately have everything together.
This year, I found many successes. I watched as my TikTok channel grew from 0 views to 1.7 billion views. I started graduate school, became a manager of several programs and projects at my job, and moved into a two-bedroom apartment — presenting to the world that I had everything figured out. 
I logged onto work from 9-5 p.m. and went to class from 6:30-9 p.m., but seldom had space to check in with myself and ask how I deal with the stress that I experience. To the outside world, I am a creator, an innovator, and a go-getter. But in my personal life, I cancel plans, ghost my friends, and struggle to get out of my bed.
Megan’s second verse detailed how her grief played into her anxiety.
“If I could write a letter to Heaven/ I would tell my mama that I shoulda been listenin'”
I thought about the losses I experienced this year and how three days of bereavement doesn’t add up to the feeling of despair that you experience while navigating grief. In Megan’s voice, I could hear the pain that she has experienced as she tries to be a bad b-tch, but ultimately comes to terms with the fact that sometimes, she has really bad days.
At times, I think about all the people who struggle with anxiety and experience “invisible” symptoms; ones that are silent or not broadcasted. There are days where I can’t eat or sleep. I have hosted workshops during the day, went to class at night, and stayed up until dawn because anxiety clouds my thoughts all of the time that I have to spend with myself. 
When the girls at the concert asked to take a picture with me, I didn’t have it in me to let them know that I have anxiety. But Megan has taught me that being anxious doesn't make me any less powerful.
Now, I place a couple of holds on my calendar during the week so that I can make space for my anxiety. During those times, I take a walk outside and as the breeze hits my face in the autumn weather, I put on my headphones and listen to Megan reminding me, “Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursday, bad b-tches have bad days too. And those words have lately made me feel like everything is going to be okay.
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!    

More from Mind