…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.
8 thoughts on “Certainty”
I hear you! My anxiety has been difficult to manage lately. Some of it is personal stuff – I cannot get used to my mom being alone and widowed – but I’m also freaked out by this election. Would love to know what you recommend for coping mechanisms. But that’s probably too much for an email!
Thank you for continuing to post. I don’t know how to post without being political, at least right now, and that isn’t wise for someone who wants to write journalism!
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Wine and chocolate covered almonds are a go-to coping mechanism😆.
Without music there isn’t life. Nature itself has it’s own harmony Sarah and I doubt I have to tell you that. Lately I too have been inundated with one problem after another. With me when it rains it comes in monsoons. I break out laughing !! It’s almost comical, this life of mine. I’m stranded in a such an anti-me situation. The bizarre part is that the 92 year old mother I’m watching over and my precious 14 year old Boston Terrier would both have to leave this realm for my life to change. On top of minding them I’m overwhelmed with a responsibility to my customers. As a plumber you just never know when someone’s world is going to end because they have a backed up toilet !! Anyway, I’ve had some very intense interventions in my life that brought me closer to a God that I had abandoned long ago. When I was at my lowest I found a place in the pine barrens here where I knew I would not be disturbed in any way. I talked with God. He heard me. Right at the point where I thought my life was over- no money, no woman, no drivers license and no future except to stay in New Jersey and watch my folks grow old and die- RIGHT at that point God acted immediately. I went to work that day ( which somebody had to drive me to ) and was approached by a woman who found out I was a plumber. She was a big-shot at this grocery store. She asked me if I would come to New Hampshire with her to fix things in her vacation home there. I did. I also married her, got a GOOD job, got my license back In New Hampshire ( where we had moved to), got a car and a pick-up and a beautiful home to live in. There’s much more to tell here but the song ” Miracles Out of Nowhere ” by Kansas rings in my head every time I think of how quickly God responded in my hour of desperation. One little chat in the pine barrens, alone and talking with the Maker of all things. I didn’t pray, Sarah, I simply talked with Him. Trust me, He likes and misses that. So my advice is to skip all the over-thinking and worrying. Try God. Weird coming from me but,hey, you’re talking to a walking miracle.( One thing I had failed to mention was that in all my years of traveling I carried along with me a bad drinking habit. Real bad. I was a functional drunk and had become pretty pathetic. Quitting this was another one of those Divine interventions. That was in ’97.)
Anyway, just a suggestion, find THAT place, the place where NOTHING can disturb you. NO PHONES EITHER !! Talk to God sincerely. I absolutely guarantee He will answer. Could be subtle, could be huge, but either way you’ll know it was He who did it. Love you always – Mike
I find that if I stop thinking about stuff, all of it, take a deep breath and look at the beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis, my life is much easier to live.
You’re a very talented young lady and deserve nothing but the best. You never talk about religion but I have to say that it took the better part of my lifetime (about 55 years) to figure out what was really going on with my and why I was such a mess.
I learned that I am not a bad person, that everybody makes mistakes and we have to survive if we are to become at peace with ourselves. Our makeup is issued to us when we are born.
I’m not trying to push any religion on you, simply a mechanism to alleviate the suffering you are dealing with.
Been there… Done that…..
I started praying the Rosary, numerous time a day and attended a great Mindfulness course taught by a great counselor at the VA,Austin Texas five times, and I finally came to the realizations that my thinker was broken and I needed to accept the fact that we all are flawed and that we each have our own Higher Power and they love each one of us, just the way we are….
I don’t mean to be condescending Sarah, if I am in any way I apologize. I only wish the absolute best for you as you have provided me many hours of enjoyment with your work.
Please take care and stop to smell the flowers once a day at least !!!
Remember, it’s not your fault, none of it…..
Mindfulness is a powerful tool when it comes to mental health, and I agree that a moment to reflect on the beauty around us is very very important!
Merci encore une fois, Sarah, for this post.
I have a certainty. Your posts are surely helping out at least someone somewhere directly or indirectly. This is important and not to be taken lightly.
Here in Montréal we’re in the second wave of the covid-19 for at least 28 days starting on October 1st. Montréal, Québec city and Chaudière-Appalache’s regions are in the red zone. Again. It’s the same in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada. The specialists at the WHO previously said the second wave would be one of anxiety and depression. I think they were right. So many people lost their jobs and/or are scared for their future and the future of the planet with or without those ‘zoonotic diseases -> covid-19’ to come in a close future.
We had a briefing on the second wave last thursday at work. A psychiatrist from the The Douglas-mental health institute (affiliated with the WHO, McGill and other great universities around the globe) said it was important to recognize the anxiety and/or depression of our patients in relation with covid-19 (or not). She said to mention to our patients to seek out for the help of their psychiatrists to change the protocol of their medication during the pandemic. Some of them have even never experienced that level of anxiety and/or depression before. Everyone is unique so their medication has to be reassessed and to be put up to date on an individual basis. There is no shame to admit having those symptoms. Au contraire, it shows that you’re human and that you want to have the best quality of life possible.
I just wish that people will seek out for help and not stay alone in their bed thinking they’re lost and alone. You’re not Alone.
There is always some light at the end of the tunnel. I know it sounds cliché. Cliché or not taking action is important and a key factor for stability.
xo (as you know already French kiss on both cheeks. It is a sign of a friendly loving support and a sweet tenderness for reconforting) to madame la Cheffe d’orchestre, Sarah. La MaestraOSM1.
Yes, I fear that anxiety and depression are as concerning and destructive as Covid. As usual, the Canadians seem to be more on top of this issue than their neighbors to the south…
Maybe, if you don’t know it already, you might find this book interesting?