Stress takes on many faces. As we grow up and navigate our way through our adolescent years, we learn how to cope, and self soothe. Early development of healthy coping mechanisms heavily influences our adult mental health. However, for every healthy habit, we create we also create several toxic habits. This is due in large part that as teenagers we simply don’t have the vocabulary to discuss our mental health.
As adults, we sometimes use retail therapy as a way to deal with stress. However, we all know this just adds more debt to our name and therefore adds even more stress. Then we shop because we are stressed, and the cycle continues.
People turn to yoga, teas, oils, spa treatments, alcohol or medication in order to destress. Some will turn to their faith. Whatever the solution- we can all agree that stress is a real problem. For some, stress comes and goes, however for some stress isn’t actually stress, it’s anxiety. Those anxious symptoms are so physically painful, that taking a step is a struggle.
Some days it can feel like needles are poking you and ants are crawling on your lips and back. Your stomach is twisted like a wet mop, and you comb over everything you consumed that day because you are determined to find what gave you “food poisoning”. You start questioning if you should have social media accounts, “I’m deleting my Facebook… No, I can’t. Maybe I’ll delete the app.” You lay in your bed thinking of every side glance or questionable tone you have heard in the last three months; “Why did they say that? Why did they say it like that?”. Sleep can be the only reward for sickness. Restlessness is my reality.
There are days that all I can hear is my inner voice, screaming. Watching dust float in the air in the middle of my living room, my inner voice screams in agony, in pain, at the sight of a less than a `clean house. Rather than clean, I sit on the couch and watch it, too upset to move. The weight of it all was holding me to the chair like straps. My son comes in and asks me for a cord. My inner voice screams out of frustration at the question. I think to myself, “Why does he ask before he looks?” I smile at him, take a moment and say: “Look on my desk, babe.”
Those feelings will come and go. I have bad days and good days. It took over ten years of life with my partner for him to understand how hurtful the question “what are you anxious about?” is to me. However, he did learn and it has made our relationship stronger. We can now pinpoint stress triggers and find solutions together. Again, it took years to understand one’s concern. There is nothing I am anxious about. I am just anxious.
I am a Christian Children’s Ministry Director and a Sunday School teacher. My husband and I lead kids through bible studies on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. We use skits, object lessons, and games to not only teach bible lessons, but lessons on community, inclusion, and feelings. Even in an environment where I feel confident, anxiety affects me. It can affect my speech. It causes my brain to go blank. The lesson I prepped didn’t come through as planned. I didn’t say it right. My words were disconnected. All these thoughts come to my mind. More days than not, I feel defeated.
So I leave you here. Anxiety for most people is a life-long ailment. No bow to wrap up the present of life. You may know someone who fights the unseen fight. Fight with them. They know strength because they know pain.