I think gargoyles are cool. They have that scary façade, looking like they are ready to attack at a moment’s notice. And then there are the REALLY cool ones that are for fun, like Darth Vader on the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, or ones picking their nose, or just making silly faces. I love it.

Their purpose is to protect the cathedral or church from evil spirits, thus keeping the building sacred. (They also serve as drain pipes, and technically many of what we think as gargoyles are actually grotesques, but just stick with me here.) They also seem to be looking out over the city to fight whatever evil may be lurking in the hearts of men.

In my book Fallible: A Memoir of a Young Physician’s Struggle with Mental Illness, I describe my anxiety and depression as a gargoyle:

“[The anxiety and depression] appear as a gargoyle forever watching me. Though I know it should be fake and harmless, its appearance is disconcerting enough that I don’t know what it is or what it may do. I can’t even be sure that it’s really there. But it feels like it is. The gargoyle typically fills the purpose of scaring away evil spirits from sacred spaces, an essential purpose if effective. But sometimes the gargoyle turns and becomes the evil spirit—not only unable to prevent fear, but in fact constantly creating it. The gargoyle becomes no different from the real monster it portrays.”

How do you tame your gargoyle, whatever it may be?