I’ve always lived with and managed my anxiety on my own. Until last March when the pandemic hit and my world turned upside-down.
It felt like my walls were caving in. Everyday became a struggle in itself. Backed into a corner between being deemed an essential worker, and watching my children’s school and daycare shut down, I just about lost it.
The fear of leaving home, the fear of being an essential worker, the fear for my young children and all the unknowns that lie ahead. What the heck were we in for? Would we get Covid? Would I bring it home to my kids? Would we have to quarantine? How will virtual kindergarten go? Who will watch my youngest? Will I have to hire someone? Will my hours change at work? Will my husband get laid off? How will things just “go on?” Will we be able to continue paying our bills with my hours cut and a possible layoff with my husband?
Everything was affected by this anxiety
I became short-tempered, I started to cry when I couldn’t control my emotions, and everything my kids and husband did really struck a nerve. Most days I didn’t want to get out of bed because I didn’t want to work under the stress. When the clock struck four and I was off work, I no longer had the energy to even speak another word for the day. Nor did I have the energy to cook dinner when I arrived home.
From the lines at the grocery stores, to fearing if there would be enough food and toilet paper for my family during my next shopping trip. Life as we know it was changing at warp speed.
I could not bear to read another hourly health network update, or sit in on another conference call fearing what was unraveling before my eyes. The healthcare industry was scrambling to change and update policies constantly, trying to keep everyone on the same page. Hours were cut, we were forced to work on skeletons. We were drowning just barley able to keep our heads above the surface. That’s when I waved my white flag and surrendered to my anxiety.
My doctor always told me that when things got to be too much and I felt like I couldn’t manage my anxiety to give her a call.
It’s ok to ask for help
One day my knees felt weak, I had a lump in my throat and my hand stretched out for my phone. My head had been pounding for days as I began clenching my jaw to cope. I had finally worked up the courage to ask for help.
After one month of being on my anxiety medication, I started to feel as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was more pleasant to be around. My laughter and wittiness began to come back and I started to feel like myself again. I slowly began to talk about my struggles with friends and family and that’s when I started to heal from the inside out.
There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to asking for help. The first step is recognizing that you need it. You cannot physically continue to take care of others if you yourself are not well.
Anxiety isn’t something most people are open about, but I’m here to tell you that statistics show anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S. It affects 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older. Anxiety is highly treatable but only 36.9% of people seek treatment. That means 63.1% of people are just “trying to get by.” I can proudly say I am no longer part of that 63.1%. You too, have the opportunity to work up the courage and speak out.
Don’t let your anxiety cripple you for another day.