by Colleen Hentz, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker #SW14375
Over the past couple months our whole society has had massive changes. We expect these changes will continue to evolve over the next several months. Most of us have a hard time with change under normal circumstances, but for someone with an anxiety disorder this change can be completely overwhelming.
Let’s take a moment to unpack what we are actually dealing with here:
A new virus that has proven to be deadly for many, new viral threats to our children, physical isolation, job loss and financial strain, relationship strain both within and outside of our home, and changes in all our routines.
Everything from going to work or school to buying groceries has changed.
For many in the healthcare field even going home to sleep at night has changed. Many are facing eviction or foreclosure and small businesses are heavily threatened with never being able to open their doors again.
Bear with me though, I promise all the negativity will end soon.
With all of this hanging over our heads It’s okay to not be OKAY! Say it with me, “It’s okay not to be OKAY!”
Feeling afraid, frustrated, anxious, stressed, short tempered, and overall a mess is a totally expected response to these new threats.
I’m not saying it’s acceptable to take out our stress on others, or that anyone should be curled up in a dark corner of the room hiding from the world. That said, having a strong reaction to all this threat and change is normal and for the most part healthy. These are all serious threats, and the appropriate response to a serious threat is to be afraid. Emotional reaction to stress can help lead us to make necessary changes, avoid dangerous situations, and take positive actions if we can harness the energy in the correct direction.
Here is where the good news starts: We have a CHOICE as to how we respond to all the negative and painful emotions.
We can choose to dwell in the stress and anxiety and have that be as far as it goes, OR we can use the threats above and the emotional reactions to them to start to make a plan, move forward, grow and learn. Our society has been given a very unique opportunity to make changes, both positive and negative. As an eternal optimist (and not by accident but by choice), I am going to use this threatening situation to try and make some positive changes both for myself and hopefully for others as well. I hope you will choose to join me on this journey and make some positive changes for yourself.
Here’s some more good news: all of the emotional turmoil bouncing around in your brain can be managed, at least somewhat. I’m not saying I have the magic answer, but there are some things that can help.
For those who suffer from anxiety disorders, you know that managing the anxiety can sometimes feel like trying to move a mountain with a plastic spoon. There are some things that can help you deal with the thoughts and fears.
Over the next several weeks I will be posting more articles that cover some things that will help you deal with this overwhelming situation, and anxiety in general. Next week’s article will cover controllable vs. uncontrollable events and how to deal with both.
If you are feeling hopeless, like you want to end your life or hurt yourself please reach out for help now to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you need financial assistance and community resources, please contact United Way 211 by calling 211 or (239) 433-3900 or Lee County Human Services at (239) 533-7930.
For additional Mental Health Resources check out: