For the past several months I have managed to keep my anxiety at bay…how? I never know. I might consider it a combination of medication, exercise, eating healthy, meditation, prayer, focusing on the positive, writing and acknowledging all of my very real feelings, but sometimes I think I just have seasons of peace. Lately, my old not-so-good friend, anxiety, has been creeping back into my thoughts, dreams and regular day actions. This time, I know exactly why the door to anxiety opened and allowed it back into my life.
Everyone who suffers from anxiety has triggers, events or actions that stir up their anxiety or depression and bring it back to life. For me, it’s a few different situations, this week it was global devastation: the Syrian Refugees. Ever since I was a very young child in church learning about the rapture in the book of Revelations, I have had severe anxiety over traumatic news. (I had numerous panic attacks while growing up over “the end of the world”. Revelations was an incredibly traumatic Bible story for me.) The news is always overwhelming for me, which is why I often try not to watch it. I am a worrier and a thinker and a highly sensitive person. There are news stories from years ago that still keep me up at night. Sometimes, it’s just better to separate myself from the negativity.
When news began to surface about the drowned Syrian toddler that was photographed on the coast of Turkey, I ignored it. I didn’t click on any links, read any captions and often just closed my computer. I did not want to know anything at all about a dead child. No thank you. However, the news, the photos and the status updates just got more and more prolific. Even Momastary began posting her thoughts on the situation, so I gave into the media and began reading. Guilt hit me first.
Where the hell have I been? How did I miss this? FOR YEARS!? Why I have never paid attention? What can I do? How can I help? Where can I learn more?
So I began researching, reading and talking to people. I stopped hiding from the news and dove headfirst into some really difficult discussions and stories. After a couple of nights of thinking, planning and learning my thought process began to change…
Why them? Why not me? Why am I so lucky to live in a safe place with freedom, education, choices, rights and help at every corner? Why is life so unfair? Why do I worry about anything in my life, when I have it so easy in comparison? What if everything changes? What if that were me and my child? What if I lived in a warzone? What if I didn’t have my doctors and medications? What if I lose everything I have now? What would I do? What will I do?
My anxiety always twists and turns on myself. I became inconsolable. Not only was I crying for every single suffering Syrian family, but I began crying over fear that I was about to have a heart attack and die right there in my Husband’s arms. That’s what anxiety does. It starts as one trauma and eventually gets to the root of all my anxiety and eats away at me until I feel completely destroyed.
I took a break from the news for a couple of days, but I’m not done. I have plans and I will do what I can to help our brothers and sisters in Syria. While I’m planning and helping, I will also be working on myself. I am taking this latest anxiety attack and turning into a lesson.
There’s a quote that I can’t quite remember that says something like, if you feel sad, make someone else happy, when you feel weak, remind someone else that they are strong, when you feel poor, give to someone in need, when you feel alone, visit someone who is lonely and so on and so on. Even though I never remember this quote exactly right, the meaning behind it has resonated with me and it comes back to me during times such as this. How can I be aware of and help others in need when I am so afraid and anxious myself?
I will be the calm for those in rough waters. I will remind those who are afraid of just how brave and strong they are. I will do my best to lift up others and as a result I believe I will begin to heal myself.
I have anxiety. I panic and freak out sometimes, but I am doing my damnedest to take these hard moments, learn from them and focus on the positive. It’s work. It’s a daily process, but just like love, relationships, friends and family…it’s worth it.