As those struggling with mental health issues know, as much as we wish these matters would simply disappear, they do not dissolve into nothingness like we hope. Each day can bring with it a new challenge to face and overcome.
Two months ago, with the guidance of my doctor, I reduced my anti-anxiety medication by half. I had been feeling pretty darn great with this new dosage of meds. I hadn’t even noticed an increase in my anxiousness at all. All was well.
Enter this week: Coronavirus. Closures. Travel bans. Cancellations. Fear.
Amid this flurry of fear, I found myself in my former trigger location on Wednesday: the grocery store. I was milling about the aisles, stocking my cart with goodies for family who plan to come to town this weekend, when I saw a man coming toward me down the aisle. His cart was overflowing with bottled water, toilet paper, bleach and canned sardines. Holy. Shit.
I instantly began to feel that all-too-familiar feeling of panic rise within my gut. My teeth clenched, my breath became shallow and quick. The dizziness began.
I stopped mid-aisle and immediately began to employ the strategies my counselor passed along to me so many months ago. “This is anxiety,” my inner voice whispered. “I am safe and I will get home soon. Safely.” I took a deep, cleansing breath. Then I smiled and chuckled to myself. (This was definitely NOT what I was expecting to happen.) I was imagining the inner dialogue of Bleach Man as he passed me in the aisle, gazing into my my cart filled with wine, chips, brownie ingredients and a smattering of Reese’s peanut butter eggs, “Oh my God! Doesn’t this lady realize what is going on in the world right now? She is crazy!” And then, just like that, the panic subsided and never manifested into a full-blown attack.
The days that lie ahead will certainly be challenging, both physically and mentally, for all. I think it’s so important for each of us to find our own unique strategy to navigate the days, weeks and months ahead. Since Monday, I have found myself on my yoga mat each day. I know that my yoga practice is what I need in order to continue to fight my battle with anxiety during this season. This practice helps me feel stronger physically, but also more confident in my inner strength.
This girl can overcome this hurdle. We all can. I hope this trying time helps to strengthen each of us, and in the end, we are better because of it.
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~Ernest Hemingway