I'm not talking hyperbole nor am I denigrating those of us who suffer from mental illness. I'm a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I'm here to say I think that a huge percentage of this country's population suffers from a psychiatric illness called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (DSM-5 300.02). According to the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition this particular disorder can be hard to diagnose. However, some of the primary symptoms include excessive worry about stuff like health, family, money and work. Further symptoms include feeling tense, tired, irritable and restless. The symptom list goes on to include difficulty concentrating and sleeping.
Any of those symptoms sound familiar?
I'll go first. I can't remember the last time I slept through the night. I am tired and tense. I'm having trouble concentrating maybe because I'm so restless and tense. I worry about the future of my family, this country and, quite frankly, the world. I keep checking my phone for updates -- for any indication that things are not as bad as they seem. And so I ride the roller coaster of good news, bad news and of despair and exuberance.
Now your turn. Go ahead. I won't tell anyone. How are you doing?
Anytime we are diagnosed with something or other we want to immediately know the cure. The cure may be when the polls close on November 8. However, that may be just a bandaid. The outcome of the election may lead only to more things to worry about regardless for whom we vote and regardless of who is declared the winner.
So are we to simply descend into the morass of our disorder? No. Here's what we can do. We can put down our cell phones and our iPads. We can shut off our televisions. We can look for reliable, objective news sources if any still exist.
We can also live our lives mindfully and with intention. The time has come to embrace miracles: early morning drops of dew on leaves, music, poetry, smiles, rainbows, sunsets, laughter, family, love.
I love you.
That's the bottom line and it's time to live a life of love.
Anxiety eats away at our souls. Love replenishes, restores sanity, and nourishes life.
Live and love.
Go for it.