Nevertheless, I had a panic attack. I simply could not handle everything that had irritated me over the last few days (irritable children, messy house, too many doctor appointments, stupid drivers, school demands, negativity everywhere you look, you name it), everything I still needed to do, and what everyone needed from me, and it completely derailed my sanity momentarily. I even broke out in hives, the stress level was so high.
That sense of being completely overwhelmed doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's debilitating. I absolutely loathe having an anxiety disorder. It makes me feel weak and worthless. I canceled the plans I had tonight, for no other reason than I just couldn't fake being okay around people. I feel terrible because it was going to be a fun evening. But I simply had to tap out for the night and be home where I feel safe (at least when the kids aren't being complete ogres). I did go for a run in the hopes of exhausting myself so much I stopped worrying about everything.
When I got home, I grabbed the Reader's Digest (don't laugh, I love that magazine), sat down on the couch, and became immersed. The Editor's note in the beginning was written for me, I swear. Mr. Kelley verbalized exactly how I've been feeling for the past few weeks regarding one of my bigger stressors, and that's the rampant negativity and meanness in the world right now. I seriously think it's been having more of a negative impact on my mental health than ever before. Here's what he said:
Reader's Digest has long been neutral about politics, but one thing we will never be neutral about is niceness. In a democracy where free expression is the rule--and where the internet, talk radio, and cable news provide enormous megaphones--niceness has never been more important. If we want to live in harmony along with our competing ideas, we need civility, empathy, and a sense that we have each other's backs. Niceness is the glue that will hold us together.
Yet it's not-niceness that's on the rise. The bitter call-and-response of our political exchanges has long pummeled the promise of "E pluribus unum." In a recent poll, 75% of Americans called incivility a "national crisis." It's no accident that Americans' faith in their institutions is scraping bottom.
It's a tough balance of wanting to be informed of what's going on globally, and yet being completely sick and tired of the rampant negativity, name calling, and ignorance. It's really screwed up my head in the past few weeks. I need positivity and feel good stories, but it seems those are few and far between, shunned in favor of shock value antagonistic stories. So sad. I'm enjoying the Reader's Digest piece regarding the Nicest Place in America contest, where citizens actually go out of their way to be generous and kind, not expecting anything in return. That type of attitude fosters a sense of belonging and contentment.
If only people (and the media!) could take two seconds to think, REALLY THINK, about what they are saying and how it can be received, not to necessarily censor themselves, but to understand whether or not their viewpoints in that moment are helpful or cause further division and incivility. Maybe they ought to go pet a puppy and then come back to their keyboard and see if they still feel like saying it.
Maybe if there was more of this, people like me with anxiety disorders might just be okay way more often than we are. Turn down the noise a little for us. Please.