I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder five years ago. Since then, I’ve tried almost everything to deal with it. Lexapro. Yoga. Meditation. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I’ve always believed any problem can be fixed as long as I try really hard. It took a global pandemic to make me realize how delusional that was. I watched as my coping mechanisms disappeared overnight. Group fitness training? Gone. Cuddles with my best friend? Nope, sorry. A visit to my partner’s parents for a home-cooked meal and a side of sympathy? Not going to happen.
Anxiety makes you turn inward. You become obsessed with the idea people are judging you. While that remained, I also started to worry about everybody else in my life. My friend who had to go alone to her first scan. My dad who was unable to visit his grandchildren. My sister explaining to her threeyear-old he couldn’t go to nursery to see his friends. My partner contemplating if his job was next to be cut. My lowest point came four weeks into lockdown. Our wedding was due to take place in April, and watching that day come and go without celebrating with my loved ones hit me really hard.
I tried to convince myself I shouldn’t be feeling this way. “Other people have it worse than me. At least I haven’t lost my job. At least I have my health. At least I have my partner.” These thoughts raced through my mind constantly, but they didn’t make me feel better, they made me feel worse. My natural instinct was to clam up, withdraw and sleep as much as possible. Luckily, I was able to access remote therapy via my company’s Employee Assistance Program. My therapist asked how it would be if I answered honestly when someone asked if I was okay. My shoulders physically dropped, and my breathing deepened. It turns out vulnerability really is a superpower. Admitting I needed help proved just how generous my support network really is.