I’m propped up in my bed on Sunday morning, skittering around the Internet while hoping a panic episode subsides. It’s a gorgeous day already, much like the one I wrote so happily about on Tuesday. But I’m not in that space now, and I’m wishing my dad was still alive to talk to about it.
My dad battled anxiety and depression his whole life. I can’t help but imagine how providing for our family of six placed a heavy yoke of responsibility on him and exacerbated his struggle. I never asked him about that, yet I think I understand it.
When I experience my own tsunami of anxiety, sometimes out of nowhere, sometimes traceable back to an incident, everything — even the things I cannot do anything about in the moment — make it worse.
Case in point this morning:
- I woke up feeling anxious, worrying about my future, overwhelmed by how busy I am and wondering how I’ll possibly get everything done this week.
- I read about tRump’s ICE raids that were to begin today, but in some places started yesterday, without warrants.
- The New York Times said some of the agents expressed concern about “arresting children” (thank God).
- It suddenly felt like Nazi Germany to me, which is terrifying and made my anxiety worse. What is happening in this country? Who are the collective “we” we are becoming?
- I thought about a book on CD I am listening to (thanks, Mr. Z), “The Demon in the Freezer,” about smallpox and anthrax, the horrendous ways people die from them, terrible experiments with the smallpox virus on monkeys and how this country and Russia — and who knows who else? — have huge quantities of the virus on ice that could be used for biological warfare.
- More terror, more anxiety.
My friend, B, told me I shouldn’t write about personal details of my life on my blog, because current and future employers might read it and that could ruin my chances at keeping a job or securing a new one if they didn’t like what I wrote. My daughter told me I should make my Facebook posts private for the same reason.
In fact, someone did read a recent post of mine, and for a minute I felt afraid, exposed, vulnerable. But wait. Do I not want people to read my posts? Do I not want to inspire readers to think and perhaps even be challenged? And if a potential employer was turned off by my expression of an opinion or description of an experience, would a job there work out for me in the long run, unless I hid who I am?
Who am I making my life for?
For those who like facts and figures, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health:
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. (18%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.
So why would anyone, employers included, stigmatize anxiety (or any type of mental illness) when 1 in 5 people have anxiety? (Statistically speaking, how many of those decision makers and stigmatizers have it, too?)
Anxiety is part of who I am. (So is depression, but that’s a post for another day.) And although anxiety made this morning difficult for me, I’m moving forward the best I can, knowing it will come and go … and come again.
One thing’s for sure: I’ve hidden my light under a bushel for a long time, and I’m not doing it any longer. Not for anyone.
There’s another reason I write my blog. It helps me regain my footing and take back my power.
I’m feeling better already.