Feeling crazy anxious lately – could it be because of these 5 things?
October 22, 2020
Hi, hello, my name is Jenny, and I spent 6 and a half hours on the internet yesterday. Unsurprisingly, I followed that “questionable” (being charitable to myself here) life choice with nearly a whole bottle of inexpensive prosecco and a bedtime more suitable to one’s twenties than thirties, and I may have fallen asleep with fingers scrolling through a Twitter feed rather than sliding across a set of rosary beads last night.
In that brief, humiliating but illuminating intro paragraph, I believe I managed to encapsulate 90% of the highlights from the “don’t do this” list which I am about to reveal to you.
2020 has been a year filled with anxiety, and for the already anxious it has felt, at times, a bit like being trapped on that moving conveyor belt that escorts your car through the carwash, except there *is* no car and you’re just standing there utterly at the mercy of drenching water and pummeling brushes and the terrifying spinning flapping things that make my babies scream.
Listen, as Dave and I are won’t to quote back and forth to one another regularly, “Nobody in my family is dramatic!” But, then, you don’t come here expecting gravitas and composure, do you?
I have found through much trial and error (see again: last night) that the most difficult days are those which combine the 1-2-3-4-5 punch of: pathological fixation on terrible destabilizing world event + too much time online (especially on social media) + overindulging in mind altering substances + no sleep + no prayer.
Anyway, here’s what I know I need to stay mindful of during these bizarre and buffeting storms that just keep on rollin’ in. Maybe you’ll find something helpful for yourself:
The news. Do you watch lots of it? Stop. It’s trash, it’s entertainment packaged as knowledge that leaves you stupider, sicker, and more scared for having consumed it, and I’m beginning to doubt that there are more than a couple real live journalists left anywhere in the world, apart from those doing old school reporting and analysis in niche markets. The news is why we have an epidemic of stupidity and hate and stark raving panic sweeping across the globe. Turn off the news. Whatever happens that you absolutely, essentially must know about? It will find you without your having to sit captive to the doom scroll ticking across the bottom of your screen for hours on end hearing what’s the latest. You will survive without knowing. You will thrive without knowing. Free yourself.
Of course, you know that the only thing worse than the news is social media. I know, I know…my forever soapbox. But look, that “dictatorship of relativism” that Benedict warned us about way back when? I think this is it: a self-inflicted nightmare alternate reality you both create and are held captive by, emanating from the tiny computer in your hands where the only objective truth you acknowledge is the one that suits your personal preferences. Social media is literally self brainwashing; within its dopamine-bathed echo chamber, an intellectual circle jerk where it’s nearly impossible to entertain an opposing viewpoint or offer a corrective counterpoint, one reflects and, indeed, becomes that which one consumes. Our viewpoints are reinforced, our positions entrenched, and our objectivity blurred by the blue light emanating from our tiny pretend remote controls for reality. Delete Facebook and Twitter, deactivate Instagram, and if you really, really need to check in with one of the disembodied personalities you interact with on the internet, well, it’s not 2005 anymore and you can actually access information on most of these platforms without having an account or a presence there yourself.
About that bottle of prosecco… Back during the darkest days of lockdown we had to mandate (you know, for ourselves, as card carrying adults capable of self parenting) no alcohol Sunday through Wednesday nights. Does that sound pathetic? Well, it was. And it was also sleep spoiling and waistline expanding. But we live, we learn, and we moderate our consumption back down to a reasonable place where wine accompanies feast days and not just random Tuesdays.
I have never been so tired in my entire life. Confusingly, it isn’t the baby. A piece of it, surely, can be attributed to parenting half a dozen kids, but even adjusting for offspring inflation, I feel like the crypt keeper. Guess what? Staying up until 11 pm reading hot takes on twitter makes you feel like shit on so many levels. SO many. (refers self back to bullet point 2.) Seriously, I’ve been lying down to nap or attempt something thereof on the days when the big kids are all at school and the babies nap together, and not only does this feel deeply pathetic, but I’ve yet to rediscover my pep, my joie de vivre, my internal drive to succeed at life. Apart from the 208 lawn and leaf bags of toys and clothes and what else I cannot say that I’ve dragged to the thrift store since March, I really don’t have much else, concretely, to show for myself apart from keeping these children alive and my hair occasionally (very occasionally) washed. It’s truly pathetic. I attribute it partially to poor sleep hygiene. Maybe I’ll sleep on November 4th…
We’re doing better in the spiritual realm, lately, but it’s still always the first thing to go when things derail. If I spent as much time with my Lord as I spend with my phone…Dave and I have been spending the first 10 minutes each morning reading the daily Mass readings out loud together and then doing like the world’s briefest take on Lectio Divino as we share whatever insights or inspirations we receive. It has been incredibly fruitful for our marriage and unlike the pulling of teeth that is grinding out the daily rosary, it’s something we actually both enjoy and look forward to. I 100% believe the rosary is critically important right now, too, however it is a less emotionally satisfying discipline for sure.
I think plenty of us are in a place where a little extra self care could go a long way – and I think of the categories outlined above as real, basic selfceare, the kinda stuff that really does keep the wheels from coming off.
As a very wise and holy priest said earlier this year, “make of this time what you can, let it be the year you look back upon and say ‘oh, yes, 2020, that’s the year we started praying the rosary together as a family, began going to daily Mass, returned to the Sacraments after years away.
2020 was when it all began again.”‘
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