My Journey with Anxiety – Part Four – 2020
I’ve struggled with how to end this last part of my journey with anxiety. The truth is, my anxiety is not gone, but over the last three months, I have learned a new way to cope with it. I’m just not sure I can explain it in a way that makes sense.
Last year, 2020, was bad for everyone. I don’t think a single person came through it untouched. In my own family, two people have tested positive for COVID-19. They both recovered well, and no one who was in contact with them while they were sick caught it. I can only thank God for that. But the anxiety that 2020 has left me with will stay with me a long time.
No one expected 2020 to turn out the way it did, nor did we expect it to test us in such unusual ways. I started 2020 as a cake decorator in a grocery store. I was considered essential when COVID-19 got bad here in the States.
In May, my fiance and I had to quarantine because he was exposed. In December, I had to quarantine again because I was exposed. I spent Christmas alone in my apartment watching WW84 remotely with a friend and opening my presents by myself. I didn’t even put my tree up this year. Three days later, my grandmother tested positive. She has recovered and is finally back to normal.
A couple weeks later, I caught a low grade fever and was sent by my doctor to test. I’ve tested twice and came back negative both times, but the waiting periods have wreaked havoc on my nerves. There are days when I just don’t want to leave my apartment. The fear is just that strong.
The quarantine in December, the one where I missed Christmas, was the hardest one for me, but I think it was necessary for me to have my breakthrough.
As stated in an earlier installment of this series, I am a Christian. I was raised in church and I still attend, though right now it’s virtually. A very dear friend of mine, whom I have known my entire life, had the anxiety ridden pleasure of being my phone call during Christmas quarantine when I had my panic attacks. Ever since we were teenagers we would talk stories out with each other. She just has a way of saying things that make things click together in my brain. During one of our phone calls, she jogged something loose. I’m going to try to explain it.
Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I believe that anxiety and depression are very real. They are and can be very dangerous when left untreated, and they absolutely should be treated by a medical professional. Nothing I’m about to say is meant to insinuate that people with mental health issues should just “suck it up and get over it.”
With that said, as a believer, I believe that the devil uses anxiety and depression to keep us from the lives we’re meant to live. There is a certain level of anxiety that just is. It’s caused by trauma, and in some cases, it’s just how we’re made. And then there is a level of anxiety that does not have to be. So much emphasis is put on “This is just how I am, so I just have to live with it,” and I think that does us a disservice.
There are times when my anxiety gets the best of me. When the fear outweighs the imperative to do the thing that is causing me the anxiety. Things as simple as posting a blog post or commenting on a photo of someone I follow on social media. Things as important as marketing my books and making important phone calls. These are the moments that I know I’ve lost control.
How I get back on track
To get control back, I pray. I know that not everyone prays or believes in prayer, but it’s an important first step for me. I don’t always remember to pray right away. That’s something I’m working on.
After I pray, I stop ignoring the anxiety and I listen to it. What’s causing me to feel this way? What am I avoiding that is causing unrest in my spirit? Once I know why I feel the way I do, I can figure out what to do about it. That doesn’t mean the solution is easy. Sometimes, the solution is something that causes me anxiety. Like making phone calls. Anything that forces me out of my comfort zone. But the thing that I’ve learned is doing the things that are hard makes them easier to do the next time.
If you suffer from anxiety, talk to your doctor. There is nothing wrong with seeking medical help, and there is nothing wrong with talking to a professional about ways to manage your anxiety.
Thank you for reading about my journey with anxiety. I hope that hearing my story helps you understand your journey. Maybe my words jogged something loose, or maybe it’s time to talk to your doctor. Your journey is yours alone. Only you know what’s best for you. I wish you well on your journey.