A Word On Anxiety In 2020 Or Anytime: It's OK
Yep - There Is Cause For Anxiety, And That's OK
What's The Deal With My Anxiety?
Disclaimer: I am no doctor, but I have lived with anxiety for what probably has been my whole life, though it didn't really rear its head until 2010.
Since the pandemic hit North America - and particularly Canada - in earnest in March 2020, I have noticed that many individuals are really struggling with anxiety of varying stripes. Some have been struggling because of the fear that should come with the global pandemic that's currently gripping us, and I think that's perfectly normal. When your life is on the line, how can you not feel a little bit scared and worried - perhaps both all at once?
We've all of us been trying to keep it together through an experience that we've never had, with only history, various news sources, the occasional bits of science, and the court of public opinion to guide us. Because many of these sources appear to conflict, there appear to be more questions than answers on a daily basis, and no one is really answering anything to anyone's satisfaction. Some of us have children that we're also trying to navigate through these unusual days, and knowing that kids look to us as their role models, that puts us in the unique and often unenviable role of trying to keep our collective cool when inside, we might be shaking like mad from our own fears. Add that in with our own personal baggage that we might be dealing with at varying degrees of success, and suddenly, the weight we've managed to carry on our own for years suddenly seems that much heavier. Given we're all dealing with our own "stuff" with COVID-19, whether that be financial, emotional or physical health, adding our other baggage in with that makes for a potentially explosive situation.
You could have been trying to strike out on your own for the first time, feeling confident that things were going well for the first time in a good long while, when the global pandemic came and shut the world down for a long time. Suddenly, things looked uncertain, and you were faced with trying to figure out what the next steps were when the future suddenly was cloaked in fog. You thought you had it all figured out until 2020 turned around and said, "You know what? I don't think so!"
But feeling anxious is not a condition unique to 2020, though. There's a lot that all of us deal with on any given day, at any given moment: ill family members, personal illness or injury, financial stresses, worries about kids, worries about school, and so forth. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though - there are also various traumas we're all dealing with at any given time and while we might be working on things to become the best versions of ourselves that we can, our brains will only process these issues when they are good and ready to, and sometimes, that can't be planned or scheduled.
Sometimes, that means that your anxiety will come and bite you in the butt when you least expect that - isn't that a joyous treat?
I don't have all the answers when it comes to anxiety, though I wish mightily that I did. I would love to be able to wave a magic wand - or even a scepter because those look cool - and make everything all right. However, that's not how mental health works. There is no easy fix, unfortunately - just a whole lot of hard work to slog through and that, in turn, might fuel the anxiety in the short term as well.
However, one of the biggest things to accept is that it's OK to be anxious in the first place. People often think that anxiety or other mental health conditions are somehow a sign of weakness, and it is just not true. It's difficult to accept because when you're in the midst of feeling anxiety, you want to shut down and you want to control the way you're feeling so you feel better somehow - or at least something resembling what you feel is normal again.
Being anxious doesn't mean that you're weak, and it doesn't mean that you're not as strong as you thought you were. It means you're a human being whose heart might be hurting a bit because you've carried too much for too long. It means you need to be gentle with yourself and to work on healing.
Some of us are better at that than others, but the important thing to remember is that you need to accept that you are feeling a certain way to start with. You need to not wallow in it, but acknowledge its existence and work with it. Use what you learn from how you're feeling - because there are things to learn from your experiences with anxiety - to make yourself stronger. Learn how you feel when you're anxious and learn what'll help you ride the storm out rather than trying to control it and shut it down in the middle because that will only make the anxiety worse.
More importantly, take it one day at a time.
You'll work through it.