Isn’t It Normal To Have Anxiety?
I’d think it’s normal to have anxiety just by virtue of being human.
Last year when I went for my annual physical, my doctor asked me “ Do you have any anxiety ?” Little taken aback by her question, I retorted, “Yes, but don’t you have it too?”
Life is, after all, no walk in the park. Even in the pre-COVID-19 era, most days seemed to be a never-ending game of ‘Whack-a-mole’. There’s the kid’s craziness to keep me up at night, relationship struggles, office politics, work-life imbalance, misunderstandings, money problems, health problems, personal struggles/insecurities, and of course the scariest thought-losing a loved one.
I’d think it’s normal to have anxiety just by virtue of being human!
Anxiety often gets a bad rap. But I’ve felt it’s beneficial in many ways. It’s my anxiety over that work assignment that makes me want to perfect it. It’s my anxiety over my kid’s futures that makes me want to do better for them. It’s my anxiety over driving in the rain that makes me be extra vigilant.
So anxiety in small doses is great rocket fuel to keep us focussed and stay on track. Become too complacent and we lose our motivation. We stop caring about our actions or the consequences of those actions.
That being said, anxiety can become a problem when it balloons from that little annoying goblin which keeps a healthy check on us to a mammoth beast that keeps us frozen in its hold.
It becomes all-consuming, crippling, and drains our spirit. It disrupts our sleep cycle, mental and physical health, day to day life, and relationships. The shame of not being in control further unravels one and can lead to a downward spiral.
Depression goes hand in hand with anxiety. It is the leading disability in the world. There should be no shame in having either. Instead of negating our emotions or belittling ourselves, we must get help for it as we would do for any other medical condition.
So, my doctor was actually asking me this-
“Are you able to be in control of your anxieties or is it taking over your life?”
There will always be stressors in life. It’s completely normal to have anxiety and feel troubled from the weight of it all. But the important distinction to be made is if the anxiety is keeping us hostage and holding us back in life.
This year one of my worst fears was realized. My only brother died suddenly. Seeing my parent’s grief was torturous. There were many dark days when I felt dazed and dead inside. I couldn't focus on anything. A month after his death, COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill.
But strangely I felt no panic over the pandemic. It paled in comparison to my brother’s death. In my eyes, the worst had already happened and I had lived through it.
So maybe we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We are stronger than we think. We can go through devastation, be broken and yet still rise up from the ashes and pull through.
At the end of the day, our mental health is our responsibility. We owe it to ourselves to make it a priority.
If you are interested, listed below is a link to a free anxiety test from ‘Psychology Today’. It gives you a score and lets you know where you fall on the spectrum of anxiety.