By Sneha Pathak
What do you do if you have constant and sometimes (often) crippling anxiety so much so that an upcoming appointment with your therapist can send you spiraling? You can cancel the appointment, of course, hoping things will miraculously get better (they won’t) or that maybe assure yourself this therapist wasn’t the one (it’s not me, it’s you).
My anxiety has doubled (approximately, waiting for a tool to measure this for pretty graphs) lately. I know these are unprecedented times etc and mental health is deteriorating all over – yet everyone I know seems to be dealing okay or worse seem to be super productive and somehow happier (!!).
How can you cut yourself any slack when the world even in this crisis is hurtling at full speed and you can barely hold on to the bumper of the car?
You’d think (I did) that for someone who enjoyed being alone and at home, this pandemic would be a walk in the park.True, but only if the park was on top of an eruptive volcano with roaming animals who either want to eat you or poop on you.
Arguably, the first month was a breeze. But soon that wore off with the very real worry of my parents succumbing to the virus, which continues to keep me occupied. #quarantinehobby
But instead of this fear taking center stage of the portrait mode, blurring the other sources of anxieties, it has somehow captured a focussed panoramic view of my anxiety catalog. In non far fetched analogy terms, it has strengthened my old anxieties and has made me more vulnerable.
One major cause of my anxiety (rest TMI) is work-related. Am I good enough (this actually is my overarching anxiety theme)? Am I on top of things enough? Will my supervisor hate me (or continue to hate me, who knows?) if I make a mistake? Does everyone think I’m an idiot?
The list goes on, but you get the gist.Everyone has something that comforts them (if not, please spend a week trying to figure it out) and for me, my safe haven, my lair of hope, and happiness used to be my home and when that wasn’t available, texting with my mom. Working from home with my mother around should have been the ideal solution leading to a calm and centered me.
Sadly, that has not been the case. Instead of my work life taking a chill pill, my home life is corrupted. Lines have been blurred and work stress and anxiety have somehow spilled all over, often taking over my entire life.
Unable to set ‘work hours’, all my hours are work hours, only the degrees of concentration and action vary. Feeling inadequate makes me take on more work thinking that it will a) make me a more useful resource, b) allow me to learn new things, and c) give me more opportunities to prove myself. And usually, this works (with small anxiety peaks) when I am able to make a tangible shift from work to home mode. But working from home has assigned all my days and hours for work mode. Work seems endless, but I cannot say no to either myself (mostly this) or to my colleagues and it has been taking a toll.
And when I’m not working, I’m thinking/worrying about work.
By the time Friday finally rolls in, I’m exhausted and I never seem to fully recover. I often feel as if I am at the brink of a meltdown.
I guess, if you’ve stayed on, you may think there may be some light at the end of my rambling tunnel.
There is one but it flickers.
Awful things are happening and will continue to happen. I try to remind myself that I don’t need to make the most of my time now or ever if that means losing my mind and getting premature wrinkles. I am also trying this new, revolutionary thing where I am allowing myself to feel without inner judgment. It is a work in progress, but I am getting there.
You are the expert of your experience and I hope that you can identify boundaries that allow you to thrive or just survive for now. Short-term happiness (legal, no drugs please) is just as important as longterm fulfillment, especially with so much uncertainty surrounding us. The key is to find the ever-elusive but not impossible balance.