I was born a worrier. I come from a long line of worriers. My grandmama worried. My mom worries, and her sisters worry. I have put things on and taken things off of my “worry list” for as long as I can remember.
I’ve always worried about losing someone I love. Growing up, I worried about big and wild things like my big brothers getting drafted, and I worried about little things like having friends and losing my beany babies. In college, I worried about my grades, my friends’ grades, and about my friends drinking too much or doing something they would regret. I’ve never enjoyed Bourbon Street because I was always the one who did all the worrying.
Worrying is part of the fabric of my being. And to be honest, I always thought it was normal. And when I reflect, I realize that the worrying was really manageable until I had children. When I had my first son, I was too informed. I had heard all of the horror stories and I could imagine them all happening to me.
But with each baby I had, the worrying got worse. I think fewer than 10 people have held my third baby because, with each person that held the baby, I felt as though I was watching it get sick. I was watching the horror story unfold and I would remember that moment as when it all happened.
And listen, as I type this and admit it to you, I realize how bad it was. But at the moment, again, I thought it was just what mamas did.
The worrying affected my life, but I lived my life. That is until the Pandemic hit. Because health and wellness anxiety has always been my biggest trigger, the fear of the Coronavirus really did me in.
I worried about my husband. I worried for my babies and because I am a worst-case scenario worrier — I worried about the multisystem inflammatory syndrome. But what I really worried about was my parents. I felt that each person they knew to get sick could blame their children for passing it on. So while I worried about their health, I also feared the blame of being the one to give it to them.
Sometime in the middle of the summer, the years of intense worrying caught up with me. I remember very distinctly sitting cross-legged on my sofa early one morning trying to drink my coffee, wondering if I could not breathe because I had Covid or if it was a panic attack.
I had never been on anxiety medication before, but it was time. And I know what you are thinking — “girlfriend, you could be on the Cymbalta commercial.” I know. But look, I thought everyone lived like this! I could not imagine it being any different. I’d lived my life knowing no different and always visually picturing the thing I feared most — in great detail.
That morning, I sent an email to my doctor and an email to a dear friend who is a therapist. Within the week, I was medicated and having telehealth mental health appointments.
And my life has taken a dramatic upswing.
I literally just took a deep breath as I typed.
I still worry. I still fear the worst. But it went from like an 18 to a 6 or a 7. I am able to have scary thoughts and dismiss them from my brain. I am able to better distinguish real tangible fears.
And maybe most important of all, I am able to focus more on what I can control and what I cannot control. And the things that I cannot control are just that — out of my control.
So I am grateful for the Pandemic. I am grateful it pushed me over the edge. I am so grateful to have permanent help on board to manage the anxiety that has been such a huge part of my whole life.