Anxiety and depression are quarantined with me. They’ve lived in my home for several years. But now. This pandemic. This virus. This new world of masks and social distancing and isolation, it’s fed them and they’ve grown so big I can no longer contain them. I can’t escape them. Neither can my teenage daughter—they live within her.
Depression wakes with her in the morning. She rolls over with great effort. The weight of depression pulling her back, preventing her from sitting upright and climbing out of bed. Its grip is strong. She fights. And finally, she breaks free. She trudges up the stairs and makes her way to the kitchen. No point in breakfast, depression has stolen her appetite.
As her mind emerges from the fog, anxiety takes over.
The never-ending what-ifs and unknowns. The will this ever end? and I can’t do this anymore. Her mind races. No matter how much planning and preparation for the day ahead, she cannot focus. Irrational thoughts devour the logical ones and take up the space in her mind needed to focus on the day’s tasks.
Then, emotion joins the barrage on her heart. Big emotions. They attack relentlessly. Fear. Worry. Hopelessness. Anger. Frustration. Helplessness. Soon, their attack can no longer be resisted. Her willpower fades. Instead of fighting back, she lashes out. There’s no real reason. No particular target. Those big emotions simply need to escape, find their way out. And they do.
After the eruption, there is guilt, shame, and embarrassment. The tears flow, cooling the remnant of the molten emotions. Deep breaths, grounding, refocus.
A sliver of control is regained . . . for now.
Anxiety and depression are quarantined with me. I want them to leave. I hate that they’re here. I’d like to kick them out. Isolate them somewhere else. I’ve tried.
I’ve asked nicely. They have no respect for manners.
I’ve demanded it. They don’t fold to pressure.
I’ve begged and pleaded. They simply don’t care.
And so we’re quarantined together. Stuck with nowhere to go. Our day is an endless cycle. Anxiety and depression rotate in and out with brief moments of respite. In those moments, I catch a smile, I hear a laugh, we share an embrace that anxiety and depression don’t have the power to separate.
And when those moments end, and anxiety and depression resume their attack, I stand ready.
I sit next to her. I fight the helplessness as I watch her struggle, knowing I can’t take it away. Yet wishing I could do just that.
Anxiety and depression are quarantined with me. But I have hope. Hope that someday their power will lessen, and in their weakness, the power of love will grow. They may not disappear, but they will fade into the background where they belong. No longer a ruling authority, but a subject under control.
Anxiety and depression are quarantined with me, but this won’t last forever. This intensity won’t last forever. Until then, I will continue to speak life and light. I will fight beside her. I will hold her. I will allow her to feel. And I will remind her of love. Because the greatest of these is love.