A Reflection on Covid Concerns

I realize I’ve never understood anxiety until this year. I had certainly been nervous about things, of course, and thought I grasped the feeling of anxiety. When people spoke about their own anxiety, I listened, and with sympathy. I’d tell myself I knew what they were going through, but in hindsight I’m not sure I did.
This year has been rough, to be sure, and you can find thousands of articles and think pieces about the toll it has taken on many people’s mental health, and living through it for me has been a series of anxiety inducing hurdles to overcome. 
It started for me mostly when I was faced with returning to work in person. After being secluded at home for 4 months, my industry was starting to reopen and there were horror stories plastered all over social media and the news. People were video taping and spitting on retail workers across the country and I was convinced I would be forced into this kind of interaction. I couldn’t sleep at night, running scenarios over and over in my head, thinking, “what will I do when someone does this to me?” It was all consuming, and in the weeks and days leading up to returning to work in person I had dozens of conversations with my friends, family and coworkers, none of whom seemed to think my concerns were reasonable. That’s the thing though, anxiety doesn’t listen to reason. I know that now.
After having been back to work now for almost 6 months, I also realize the people around me were mostly right. Sure, there have been a few less than ideal interactions, but for the most part I can admit I was greatly exaggerating things in my mind. 
This feeling resurfaced, however, leading up to the Holiday season. Suddenly I was arrested with fear again. The prospect of seeing my family for Thanksgiving, which under normal circumstances would be delightful, racked me with anxiety. Hours of conversations and disagreements followed and left me feeling like nobody else seemed to take this virus as seriously as I did. I just felt like everyone was acting like it wasn’t real or something. It was real though, and that’s the thing: a lot of times anxiety is based in reality. 
Anxiety plays with us by taking things around us in our real lives and turning them up, I think. It makes it very difficult to deal with since you can conceivably convince yourself of the reasons why you should feel the way you feel. It takes bits of truths and twists them. 
While my anxiety has been largely situational, for some it is a lifelong battle. After going through this year having had only a taste of it, I think back to so many people I’ve known who fight this battle daily, and I marvel at their strength. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand how or why anxiety works, or master the art of overcoming it, but I’m a lot closer than I was a year ago.

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