Anxiety v. Activism
A few months ago I wrote about my anxiety issues, and I’m still in awe over the responses, comments and private messages I received from people who also suffer from the same or similar issues. I want to keep writing about this, because this is definitely a topic that I think should not just fade off into the sunset, especially because it is an ongoing struggle and isn’t easily cured with a pill or a new mindset.
Additionally, I wrote not too long ago about my desire to be a more active participant with regard to activism and taking a stand on issues that I feel strongly about. One of these issues is women’s rights and I pledged to participate in the Women’s March either in Washington or St. Louis this month. I don’t want to talk politics here (not today, anyway), but I do want to have a discussion about how anxiety can rear it’s ugly head straight into the heart of activities and events in which you really want to participate.
When I first wrote about marching, I thought that if I typed it “out loud,” it would make me brave enough to follow through. And then as the weeks went by, the anxiety started to creep in. Full disclosure: a large part of my particular anxiety is triggered by crowds and the threat of violence, which we see and read about so often these days. I know this fear may sound irrational and ridiculous to some – maybe most. In fact, I’m really embarrassed to even write that publicly, because anyone who knows me and how (usually) outgoing I am, may think that is the last thing I would be fearful of. In fact, I am sure it sounds insane – especially coming from a person who loves to travel, plans to continue seeing the world and strongly encourages it with our children.
But it’s the truth.
And no matter how ridiculous it sounds, it’s real and it is paralyzing at times.
I have been struggling daily – no, hourly – with this march. I have gone back and forth between marching in St. Louis and Chicago, trying to rationalize which would be make me feel less anxiety-ridden. Though I currently live in the St. Louis area, I am more familiar and comfortable in Chicago (that statement, in itself, is pretty comical considering all things). However, logistics aren’t going to work for Chicago this weekend, so St. Louis it is.
If it is…
No, it is.
With my particular anxiety, much of my stress comes from the “lead up” to an action – and not the actual action. What I mean is that my mind slowly works itself into a state of agony in anticipation of something – not the actual event. For example, Brian and I went to New York last fall, where we have been many times; however, my anxiety is so amplified now that I dreaded going until the actual day – but then I was fine. I barely paused getting on the plane… and once we were there, I didn’t have anxiety at all.
For me, extra time means extra time to freak out. And this probably explains why I always work very well (and much better) under pressure with short deadlines.
So, I have been going back and forth with this march… driving my poor husband insane. And, as always, he is so kind and supportive. Gently nudging me in the right direction, but giving me the space to have as many internal freak-outs as humanly possible.
And, trust me, it hasn’t been easy. Aside from my own anxiety issues, there has been a large amount of discord and internal controversy with the St. Louis march – which has only further given me pause. I have since set aside those arguments, though fair and important, because I know my internal compass and why I am marching.
On that, I will rest in the peace of knowing where my heart is.
But I have still been struggling with the anxiety. And then… a friend posted a quote today on social media that said Feel the fear, and do it anyway. It could not have come at a more crucial time for me. (See! Sometimes those social media quotes aren’t just passive aggressive lash-outs!) One simple sentence was the kick in the butt I needed. And though a quote on Instagram won’t cure my chronic anxiety, it was a good reminder to proactively steer my mindset in a better direction – which is what I truly needed in this situation.
So, finally, I am decided: I’m going.
Actually, we’re going.
Because my husband is a bad-ass.
I mean, he even agreed to wear a NASTY WOMAN’S HUSBAND t-shirt, if asked.
God, I love that man.
Ok, enough about you, Brian.
I’m going. I’m going. I’m going.
No, I AM. (And now I kind of have to, anyway, since you all read this…)
I can be fearful. I can still act.
One does not have to eliminate the other. That simple statement has somehow lifted a 500 pound gorilla off my back.
I will go and I will be bringing the fear with me.
Because if fear insists on tagging along, then it’s going to have to march.