Updated: Apr 24, 2021
My journey with Anxiety and how my relationship with my mom has evolved because of it.
“Hello? John are you there? I think you are on mute.”
This infamous catchphrase of Zoom calls in 2020 – also reminds me of the one-sided conversations (monologues?) I’ve endured with a long-term inhabitant of my mind: Anxiety. Notice how I say endured and not suffered; my coach will be proud.
Why can’t I say something back? Why does it feel like my throat closes up and I can barely formulate a full sentence in my head. Let alone muster enough energy to express this to my mother as we have yet another conversation about what I “should” do to take care of myself? Questions I have often pondered over.
Those with similar experiences can attest that learning the skills to cope with anxiety often feels like making a lonely, strenuous climb up a very steep hill. The amount of time spent by yourself, training your mind and body just to continue breathing (inhale,2,3,4; hold,2,3,4; exhale,2,3,4; hold,2,3,4). It makes you forget to think about anyone else who (willingly or unwillingly) ends-up accompanying you on this journey.
Both I and my mother (one of these unwilling travellers) can each document our relationship timelines according to my mental illness. To illustrate: Winter 2017, Shivani and Anxiety were experiencing a rough spot. Neither was willing to accommodate the other’s needs. Mom and Anxiety, on the other hand, were only just beginning to learn about each other. Very soon they would be on a first name basis.
Years spent starting, building, breaking, and then mending our relationships with Anxiety have led both of us to where we are today. We also know that we both need to be on the same page about Anxiety – or else it affects our mutual relationships. Anxiety does NOT like differential treatment. Can’t argue with that cause, I mean, who does?
Funnily enough, as Mom and I work on understanding Anxiety, we have also somehow found a way to understand each other. Turns out we were both taking different paths towards the same summit. So from time to time we message each other tips we have picked up. And this, hopefully, makes the climb a little more bearable – and less lonely – for each of us. Like: “Hi Shivani, lately I have been doodling every night. I like to do this while listening to the playlist you created for us both. Thanks for the pen recommendations!” or “Hi Mom, thanks for sending over that smoothie recipe. I tried it out myself but added a bit of cinnamon.”
Anxiety chimes in on our chat, every now and then, reminding us to take care of ourselves. She likes to feel included. Fair cause, I mean, who doesn’t? So far, in 2021, the three of us are actually doing quite well. We’ve finally found that dreaded unmute button. Hope you find it too.
Shivani is a community member and was part of our inaugural BecauseYOU Essentials Program. Discovering new insights and understanding ourselves better are core to our work. Our next program starts February 13, click here to find out more.