Challenges in 2020: Anxiety and the Signs I Completely Missed

Deepa David   |   January 14, 2021 

A new year calls you to look forward to new things. New beginnings, new resolutions, new goals and basically a fresh start. Most often we avoid looking at the year gone by. Or even if we do, it is just a simple remark or passing comment on how tough the year was and how we hope the new year will not be as hard. More recently, I have found myself mulling over 2020. I don’t feel very comfortable doing it and I simply want to whiz by that thought in my head. But I keep coming back to certain time periods and certain incidents. And every time I wonder: how did I miss this? Why didn’t I see the signs? How was I so blind?

Around October my husband told me that he had anxiety issues. I did not know how to react. I had never experienced it and none of my family members or close friends had experienced it. So I did not know what to do with this information. But what shocked me more was that my husband had been suffering with anxiety for a while and I had completely missed the signs.

I mean, I live with this man in the same house. I know when he sleeps (or so I thought) and when he wakes up. I know what he likes to eat and how he likes it. I know the shows he likes to watch. I know him better than anyone else. But still I did not pick up on any of his emotional needs. I did not have the slightest clue. We did get help for my husband. And while we continue to get help professionally and are getting better, we also realised that people coming alongside us during this difficult season has helped us equally.

So here are some of the ways that 2020 really challenged me and some of the lessons I learnt through these challenges.

I was inward focussed throughout the pandemic.
As ugly as this confession sounds it is completely true. I was only concerned about my health, my wellbeing and emotional stability. I was selfishly thinking about how to keep myself happy and how to cope with the current situation. At the most I thought of my kids and how to keep them occupied indoors. But I never considered that my husband might be struggling.

Yes I knew we were binging a little too much on those Theobroma brownies and he was sleeping little later than usual. But I assumed he was preparing sermons when the house was quieter. He was a little bit more irritable than usual. But hey, who wouldn’t be in a noisy household with a brand new teenager and two kids under ten? So this is one major lesson that I’ve learnt. To be a little bit more mindful of my surroundings, to be more aware of the people around me, to check in on them and specially their emotional heath from time to time. And if I do see physical signs, like different sleep patterns or food patterns or irritability, then to know that it could be an external sign of something deeper like anxiety or fear or sadness or worry.

I was in denial.
I never thought this would happen to my family. I never thought that my husband would struggle with a debilitating fear of meeting people or that anxiety would hamper his productivity in everyday life. But it did. Even when I did catch a glimpse of few signs, I was in denial that this can't be happening to my husband. I assumed that he would snap out of it or he would work it out if I gave him some space. But this is yet another way I was challenged. Just because I stick my head in the mud like an ostrich I can’t pretend that everything is fine or that the problem will resolve on its own. Sometimes I need to confront the problem and acknowledge that it exists.

I learnt the power of gospel friendships.
When my husband shared about his struggles in church during a sermon, people didn’t judge him or simply give him solutions. Some friends reached out and prayed, some regularly checked in on us. When I say checked in on us, it just wasn’t a text or phone call. They physically showed up. They sat with us through our awkward silences, cried with us, reminded us of the gospel over and over again. They pointed us back to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. They reminded us of our worth in Christ. This was a life changing learning experience.

When someone is going through anxiety I don’t have to have all the answers and solutions to their problems. I don’t have to have my life all sorted and in shape before I can help someone else. All I need to do is just show up and be there. To listen to their fears and point them to Christ, who is their true Saviour. It might seem like nothing to us but it makes a world of difference to them. It did for us.

Now when I look at the uncomfortable year gone by I glean lessons and truths, gems and nuggets that I will cherish for a lifetime. The pandemic challenged me as a wife and mother in more ways than one, but through it all I learnt that God is faithful, that God is present and that He cares. He is Emmanuel. I learnt that when we open ourselves to God and let him into our fears and worries, He begins to heal our restlessness. And when we reach out, there are loving friends who God uses to comfort us. He truly has been Emmanuel for us and I hope and pray that you get to experience Him in that way too.

 

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

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Deepa David

Deepa David skillfully juggles her various roles as a wife and mother of three kids. Her biggest role is to support her husband in ministry, bringing stability into a demanding ministry environment. She has a heart for underprivileged women and has served with commercial sex workers and women in situations of exploitation and abuse. She is also theologically trained with an MA in Christianity from SAIACS. She is joyful all the time and never tires of hosting people in her home.

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