Everything is okay.
Everything is not okay.
Tap tap tap… Tap tap tap… (a little exercise to help control my anxiety)
Inhale…. Exhale…. (in spanish because I watch Jane the Virgin and it’s forever in my head)
Tap tap tap… tap tap tap…
Everything is… everything… everything is…
Sometimes, I have panic attacks. Most of the time, I feel anxious. All of the time, I worry.
I completely understand how obnoxious that sounds, believe me because I admit that it is obnoxious. I feel obnoxious. Writing this feels obnoxious. But it’s true. No opinion or political stance, nor person can change the fact that I have anxiety and that I experience a life that is chalk full of worry. And I hate that.
I hate it I hate it I hate it.
I hate that I put my poor husband through my anxious outbursts and hours of tears and talking and on and on… I hate feeling like I am a burden on him. I hate the fake smile and the “living the dream” answer I give that masks the true anxiety I feel. Unsure of who to share my feelings with. Unsure of who I can trust. Unsure of who would listen or care and not laugh.
I post pretty pictures on facebook a lot. I post pictures of me smiling, having fun. Laughing and joking with my amazing husband. And I feel joy. I feel joy in those moments of brief sunlight. But behind the scenes there are 200 other “not great pictures” that didn’t make the cut because I hated how I looked. Behind the scenes I just finished crying over another negative pregnancy test so my sweet husband took me out for ice cream. Behind the scenes we had an impromptu date because we hadn’t seen each other in over 24 hours. Behind the scenes I am taking a selfie because I feel too stressed and overwhelmed to face the dishes or fold the laundry. Behind the scenes my perfectly portioned plate is only an appetizer to the emotional eating fest that is moments away from declaring war on my diet.
So why am I telling you this? Why should you care?
For one, I think the stigma around mental health and anxiety is old hat. It’s not new, it’s not a fad. I promise, someone you know and love probably needs a little help right now. It’s not always easy to see, but it’s there. It’s real, and it needs addressed. How can you help? Check in on your people. Mean it when you ask how someone is doing and be prepared for their response. Take a step forward when everyone else is stepping back. Go out on a lim and tell someone that they’ve been on your mind or how much they mean to you. Recognize the small victories of your loved ones and celebrate the daylights out of them. Remember you cannot fix it, but you do have arms that can hug, eyes that can cry, words that can encourage and empower, hands that can hold, and shoulders that can bear weight. Use them wisely.
Two, I am done hiding my anxiety. Honestly, covering it up is more stressful than bearing it openly. Anxiety and stress are human. Everyone experiences it to some degree, and masking our reality with perfectionism only gives others a distorted expectation of what is real and accomplish-able. I am not a perfect person, but you knew that. And that’s okay because neither are you. We’re all just people working on becoming better at being people.
Also, I’m telling you this because maybe this is you. Maybe you struggle a little bit too. It might not be in the same way as me, but maybe you feel overwhelmed too. And if that’s you, I have something to tell you.
You are going to be alright. You can do this. I know you can. Whatever you feel like is suffocating you or crushing you, I promise it goes away. It always does. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling overwhelmed you are more than justified in that. Just remember that there is an end to every tunnel. It might be far off, but you can make it out. You are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to survive each step of the way. Every step in the right direction is a good step, no matter how big or how small. Every breath is a good breath. Keep going. You’ve got this!
Like I said earlier, absolutely nothing and no one can change your situation. Nothing can take away the anxiety and stress that you feel. That I feel. But we can find peace in each moment knowing that there is a loving God who walks not in front of, but beside us to catch us when we fall. A God who not only knows us individually but who UNDERSTANDS us individually. A God who understands what you feel, and how not okay you are. A God who can endow you with the strength and courage to succeed and a God who can bear the weight of your burdens with you. Who can show you a brighter future. Who can show you a more joyful now. A God who sends special people to us in our moments of crisis, who can help us and lift us and guide us. A God who NEVER leaves and who continues to bring us light in our darkest hour.
Everything will be okay.