Please note that I AM NOT a counselor nor am I a physician, so please take this information for what it is. This is a part of my story and what I have learned about anxiety. I hope it is helpful, but it is not a substitute for getting the help you need.
We are all facing a world with new realities as COVID19 reaks havoc on the lives of those we hold most dear. As these new realities begin to settle in, I have observed unparrallel levels of fear and anxiety just about every direction I turn. While I am no expert, I believe that much of what is so new to many is something similar to which I have been dealing with for many years. While this is still very traumatic for me personally, my hope and prayer is that by sharing what I have learned I might bring some perspective to the reality everyone is experiencing today.
The Case For Building Awareness and Understanding
What I have seen from years of fighting anxiety is that effectively battling anxiety is a mutli-layered approach. We do not find longterm success by simply masking the symptoms. I personally experienced this approach, only masking the symptoms, for twelve long years. What I learned is that proper treatment is more than merely alleviating symptoms. Proper treatment includes building awareness and understanding in order to make true progress. Often, masking the symptoms is needed to get to a place where one can find the root cause of their anxiety. Once an individual discovers the root of their anxiety, they can begin taking steps towards addressing the trauma and lies which lead them down this path in the first place.
Understanding Anxiety's Progression
From a high-level perspective, anxiety often occurs when we take our focus off of God and place it on our situation. For a non-believer this would occur when they take their focus off of their current truth and start to focus on their situation. As believers, we begin to feel the grip of anxiety when we lose sight of who God is and who we are in relation to God. In most cases, we often do so without even realizing this is happening.
As anxiety begins to pile on top of more anxiety, we often lose our footing, spiraling out of control. As the level of anxiety mounts, we become less and less capable of pulling ourselves out of this downward spiral on our own. Reality becomes less and less a part of the conversation as we bow to our worst fears.
Living By A New Playbook
As we begin to look at life through the lens of our worst fears, our reality takes a dramatic shift. Now, nothing we do is the same as it was before. Everything is seen through this new playbook. Everything is framed through a lens distraught with fear or how to avoid that which causes anxiety.
If you recognize that you or someone you love is living life by a new playbook based on anxiety and fear, here are some things I might suggest.
- First, start looking for a counselor you trust. Ask friends, family, coworkers if they know a great counselor. It will take a little while to locate a counselor who you trust who also takes your insurance. Don't wait, start looking now.
- Second, have compassion on yourself or the one you love who is living by this new playbook. This is no time for judgement or talking about how illogical the anxiety for this person is. Anxiety is NOT logical! This is a time to have great compassion on the one who is going through all of this. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to admit that you do not understand their anxiety, but that you love them and are here for them.
- Third, know and understand that the process of healing from all of this is going to take time and intentionality. This did not happen overnight and healing is not to be rushed. The consequences of not allowing the necessary time or resources needed to heal are a lifetime of crippling anxiety.
What I hope to do here is to provide you with the tools I did not have going through this the first time around. Understandably, this won't work for everyone, but my hope is that it might help one. If I can help one person through the Hell of anxiety, my pain will have served a greater purpose not only for me, but for someone else. If you are experiencing anxiety, I beg you to enlist the help of friends, family, and a counselor. Do NOT brush it off as "nothing" and pretend you are strong enough to handle this alone. The results of doing so can cost you and the ones you love dearly.