It’s Thanksgiving weekend. There’s so much to be grateful for, especially in a month that has World Mental Health Day and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness; two struggles I know intimately.
If you’ve read my recent blogs, you’ll know that my mental health has been less than ideal. Whose isn’t though? Between the COVID pandemic and the subsequent isolation and fear, the cruelty facing our Black and Indigenous brothers and sisters and the political unrest surrounding us all, its no wonder so many people are struggling. Social media blew up with posts about people’s mental health on World Mental Health Day. As the cliché goes, the struggle is real. And its alarmingly high.
As I write this, my house is immaculate (my anxiety manifests in a need for cleanliness and order), my heart is racing (WHY did I have caffeine this morning?) and I feel a sense of impending doom (yet, all is well). These are hard days for me but you know what? I’m so unbelievably grateful for them. I’m grateful for my pounding heart and sweaty palms. I’m grateful for these yucky feelings. Because on the other side of hard is growth. Change. Wisdom. Awareness. Truth.
As Robin Williams character in Good Will Hunting says, “the bad times wake you up to the good times you weren’t paying attention to.” My anxiety wakes me up.
That friendship that just fell apart? A lesson in boundaries and self-worth. These feelings of doom? A chance to appreciate the good days with even more presence and joy. The death of a loved one? Love is fleeting so love hard and fully. That shitty job? Work harder to change it and move on to something better. The political climate? Vote. Use your voice.
For every terrible circumstance, there is an opportunity; an opportunity to be better and to do better. It’s our choice. We can wallow and suffer or… we can rise. As Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Be the helper. Be the helper your worst self needs in order to be your best self sooner.
In the midst of our struggles, it can be really hard to see our choices. Our grief is deafening, roaring so loudly, all else fades into the background. Our anger is fiery and red, all other colours muted. Anxiety throbs, pulsing to a beat that feels ominous and dark.
But if you get quiet with yourself and I mean, actually quiet: no phones, no music, no distractions and focus on your breath…the choices emerge; slowly and lightly, building to its crescendo as you spend more time within.
I can either let my anxiety move in or I can give it an eviction notice. I don’t need to feel like this all the time. I can make one change today to work towards a better wellbeing for tomorrow. For me, I’ve started taking vitamins again. So simple and yet so effective. Iron, B12, D, C, Magnesium and a prenatal and I finally have more energy to do the other things that I know benefit me: exercise, journaling, connecting with friends, crossword puzzles before bed. I’ve also cut out alcohol. I’m two weeks sober and aside from one day of cravings, I have no desire to drink. I just want to be my healthiest and booze doesn’t help my health, specifically my mental health. I’m also doing one other thing that I think is helping my overall well-being but I’m saving that for another blog! #staytuned.
So today, hours before friends come over for board games and food, I’m sitting here with my anxiety and thanking it. I’m thanking it for reminding me of my humanity; that I am still fragile yet strong, sensitive yet resilient. I’m thanking it for highlighting the areas in my life I need to examine. I’m thanking it for being the heavy clouds in my life so that the sunny days feel brighter, warmer and just down right better. It’s my choice today to see the silver linings in my circumstances and consciously work towards better health and well-being. More than that, I want to do better more than I want to have anxiety dictating my life. So I’m doing the work.
I don’t have it all together. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t need to. I just have to live my life to my own standards and do what I can to make the best of this short time I’ve been given. Everything is a choice. I choose to work towards healing my anxiety. Not trying is like showing up to a jousting match without a horse. It’s your job as a human being on planet Earth to do whatever you can, however you can, to be the best version of yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all reading this. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for being you, whoever ‘you’ is. And I hope you find peace, health and happiness in your dark days. More, I hope you find brighter, warmer days ahead.