Recently I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety, and not in the ways I'm accustomed to it. Anxiety has always been a sort of tension that usually spawns from an identifiable source - like if things are hectic at work, or if there's something important riding on me doing something right.
But recently - over the last couple weeks - it's gotten so bad that on some days, I can't function normally. My brain won't focus on anything, my hands shake, and sitting still to write anything is an impossibility. It's not that there's anything going on to cause anxiety; I'm just anxious.
I've mentioned this a few times to my friends online and in real life, and here's what I've gathered - I'm not alone. There are a lot of people that are having problems with anxiety/depression/self-esteem/normal functionality these days. So here's a few simple steps just for us. They're not easy, mind. They're simple because they're understandable, not because it's a snap to execute them.
Identify a pattern (or at least try) This requires paying attention to what situations you're in when you become anxious, or what you're doing/thinking about when it happens. It might be there there is no pattern, and it strikes randomly, but even that is useful information, because it helps you with the next step.
Figure out the early warning signs (if there are any) There are usually physical or psychological symptoms that come before an anxiety episode. For me, I've identified muscular tension in certain areas (neck and shoulders, mostly) that comes almost an hour in advance of any debilitating anxiety, which means I have plenty of time to combat it by getting myself a hot cup of tea, or switching tasks. It helps a great deal.
Investigate what helps soothe/eliminate the anxiety There are a couple things to keep in mind when thinking about coping mechanisms. First - Anxiety is a sort of fear. Fear is part of the "survival instinct," or the "fight-or-flight" response. If you can kick-start your body's normal functionality through deep breathing, muscular relaxation techniques, stretches, or even a snack, then you can derail your brain's automatic response to fear. Second - The coping method that works today may not work tomorrow, or the thing you do at home to block out the anxiety might not be available when you're in public. So make sure you have multiple options when combating anxiety in case your primary method isn't viable today for whatever reason.
Determine if it interferes with your ability to function normally It's super important to keep in mind that the standards you held yourself to before anxiety was a problem might not have been reasonable (and might even be part of the problem). At the same time, if anxiety is preventing you from functioning at an acceptable level, then it is time to think about the last step.
Get help There are people whose job it is to help folk like us through times like this, and there is no reason not to take advantage of that if you have access to those people. And if you're reading this blog right now, you have access to them. There are counselors and therapists online that can help you deal with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and any of other numerous difficulties that might seem much bigger/harder/more difficult than usual right now. I have, in the last couple weeks, come to terms with the fact that my anxiety is out of control. It was preventing me from living an acceptably normal life, so I went to one of the many online counseling organizations and made myself an appointment. I can now reasonably recommend BetterHelp as a good (and affordable) resource for those who are stuck at home or live in a rural area.
I know this is a tough time for a lot of us, and I know that we're all feeling pretty isolated, or even better - stuck with issues we're not equipped to deal with. (Some of those issues have two legs and loud voices, but we try not to label them.)
I just want all you Inklings to know that you're not alone. I'm right there with you, and with a little perseverance and support, we can make it. God has you in His hands, and I'm loving you all the way.
Stay safe out there.