Having an anxiety disorder is not fun. It’s not cute or quirky or an interesting personality trait. Most of the time, it is a huge struggle and something that makes life rather more difficult than it needs to be. As it turns out, though, in a time of national crisis, an anxiety disorder comes in sort of handy.
What is Anxiety?
Feeling anxiety in response to stress is a normal human response. Anxiety disorders occur when that anxiety spirals out of control and starts to impact a person’s day to day life over small stresses and things that in a typical person would not trigger an anxiety response. There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders, including phobia disorders, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorders.
For background, I have both a panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I was born with both, and my experiences in life made them worse. At certain points in my life, my anxiety has been a huge problem. I have had to leave school because of my anxiety. Some days it’s hard to function. My anxiety impacts every facet of who I am, including my work and relationships. It’s kind of a drag.
How it Helps
That is until the world started burning. In the midst of a global pandemic, an economic crisis, a civil rights movement sparked by tragedy, and general political unrest, much of the world is likely feeling some anxiety right now. There is a great deal of stress going around, and for many people unaccustomed to constant fear and anxiety, this is a new and deeply unpleasant feeling.
That’s the advantage of having an anxiety disorder in a time of national crisis. Those of us with anxiety disorders are used to feeling like this. We have years of experience learning to manage these feelings. – my body and mind have adapted to this level of terror throughout the years
Having an anxiety disorder means I have spent the better part of my life learning to cope with feelings that others have only just begun to feel for the first time. Through therapy and trial and error or what have you, I have spent my life learning how to maintain some sense of functionality in the face of crippling fear. I know how to self-soothe when it feels like the world is ending.
That’s not to say I’m perfect at it. Sometimes the panic sneaks up and all there is to do is pull the blankets over your head and watch some TV. Knowing when it’s time to surrender to comfort, however, is part of the battle. Basically, my anxiety disorder gave me a head start in learning how to make it through this time of stress and fear. It’s all about self-care.
What to Remember
Someday, the world is going to calm down again. Things will undoubtedly be different, but this sense of constant stress will eventually subside. That is, except for your friends and loved ones who have anxiety disorders. For us, any old Tuesday might feel like you do right now, in the midst of a national crisis. Be understanding of those around you who have anxiety disorders. Remember the fear you’re feeling right now, and remember they might be feeling that at any time.
Those of us with anxiety disorders are tougher than you think, and you just might have something to learn from the way we can handle a crisis.