2020 was hard. It was surreal knowing that, for anyone who had been alive in 2019, anyone in the entire world, their life was at least a little bit worse than it was the year before.
Mental health, on average, plummeted. Being constantly exposed to stress took its toll on even the most grounded and well-adjusted of us. Therapists and psychiatrists filled up weeks and months in advance, many ceasing new clients altogether. There’s something uniquely crushing about finally, finally accepting that you need professional help, making that first phone call, and hearing “not accepting new patients” and then hearing the same thing, and again, and again. If you can get anyone to answer at all. I even got a “The number you have reached is not in service” and just about gave up.
I’ve suffered from mental illness since my first panic attack at age 12. Over my lifetime, I’ve seen three separate therapists, two psychiatrists, and have had seven different prescriptions related to depression and anxiety. I own my anxiety. Anxiety is part of my identity. My husband jokingly (and affectionately) calls me by my superhero alter-ego “Anxiety Girl”. One of my favorite t-shirts says, “Anxiety is my cardio”. I don’t even know who I am without it. That being said, it hasn’t been all flowers, sunshine, and Xanax. I’ve hidden in bathroom stalls to do breathing exercises, left cocktail parties in tears overwhelmed by social anxiety, and just last year I had a full-blown panic attack at the post office.
I’m hoping that my experiences and the knowledge I’ve accumulated can help people experiencing the same thing. And, if you need more personalized help in the form of a therapist—please, keep calling them. Someone will pick up.