…or the lack thereof has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I was listening to a podcast during one of my lengthy walks, and a line struck me, something about the fact that difficulty tolerating uncertainty is one of the hallmarks of anxiety. It describes me all too well.
I’m racked with anxiety every day. A great deal of it is job insecurity – I don’t know what’s going to happen with my industry – and I can only assume that getting back to the level of work that I had pre-pandemic will take years, if it ever returns. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
(And don’t get me started about the uncertainty surrounding November 3.)
There is a grinding nature to chronic anxiety; I know the feeling too well. I spent years and years feeling like this every. Single. Day. For weeks, for months. When people learn about my long-standing mental health struggles, they always express surprise – I always look like I have my life in order! I tell the that I’m a high-functioning mess.
I suppose I make light of it because I don’t want anyone else to feel burdened the way I’ve felt burdened, but the truth is that sometimes it hurts a little to think about it. The fact that I was able to build my career and have a life despite the generalized anxiety disorder/major depression/minor mania/undiagnosed bipolar is a testament to discipline. It’s just that I can’t help but wonder what I could have done if 80% of my energy wasn’t sucked up by managing and mitigating my mental health. What would life have looked like, what would it look like now?
Thankfully, I’ve been in a place now for a few years where the worst of the depression and anxiety are largely muted, and I remembered what it was like to feel “normal”. So I suppose the meager silver lining of Covid-19 is that it wasn’t Covid-17, because I don’t know how I would have coped. As it is, I’ve been relying on my rediscovered sense of “normal” to keep me vigilant of when anxiety and depression begin their dangerous dance.
These continue to be bewilderingly painful times. Anxiety and depression are touching those who have never previously experienced mental health crises. And for those of us who have been in the trenches for many years – I ache for you, my friends. Mindfulness, social interaction, focusing on the present, good nutrition good sleep, good exercise. Easier said than done, I know. But I’m trying, and I hope that gives you the energy to keep trying as well. I support you. And that, at least, is something I can say with certainty.