Ive been impacted by anxiety since childhood. When I was young, I felt a lot of shame about not being able to tell my brain to stop worrying (as well meaning adults suggested). When my two older children were in their early teens, they were both diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that runs in both sides of my family. Although I had already worked on my anxiety in therapy, my childrens diagnoses motivated me to deepen my research, and do whatever I could to learn to manage my mental health and theirs. When their doctor wrote mindfulness meditation on a prescription pad and suggested it for all of us, I took it to heart. My children and I became vocal mental health advocates, and I trained in trauma-informed yoga and meditation to help others learn a skill which had helped me and my children. I went to work for non-profits focused on mental health and trauma, both as a yoga/meditation teacher and a mental health peer specialist. When people ask me what I do for work, I summarize it by saying I help both adults and children with big feelings by sharing my own experiences and tools that have helped me. Now with COVID-19, I cant interact with the people I serve face to face. Individual meetings have been replaced with phone calls. Classes have been replaced with YouTube videos and live video-conferencing. I am adapting everyday, as are the people I serve. It isnt easy, but Ive noticed a resilience coming to the surface. Ive noticed that skills that Ive developed over many years to manage my general anxiety (and trauma) are also helping me to manage this situational anxiety. I see the same in my children, my friends who identify as being in recovery from mental health conditions, and in many of the people I serve. It isnt universal. Others are really struggling. Seniors in isolation share their fears with me, and they are real and heavy. We practice breathing and grounding together (which is different on the phone but not impossible). We talk about gratitude and hope. We do what we did before, which was to be vulnerable, to sit with big feelings, empathize and acknowledge suffering. To be human together.
Note: Responses which fell closer to the middle (between two or three options) are shown as two dashes.