It’s hard to describe anxiety to someone who has never experienced it. The best way for me to explain it is by likening it to the Dementors from Harry Potter. If you are not familiar, Google it, it’s terrifying.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban, Dementors are described as, “among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them…Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you.”
Anxiety does just that; it drains you of peace, hope, and happiness and sucks good feelings and happy memories from you, and it can consume you if you let it.
As cases of COVID-19 began increasing, I became obsessed with news feeds and numbers. All the input severely affected my mood, which was quickly becoming unpredictable. Then, I started having dreams about people coughing on me, and hospitals and death. One night, I woke up with a racing heart, and then another night woke up thinking I was having a stroke. I quickly recognized it was anxiety sneaking in, stealing my sleep, stealing my peace, waiting for my thoughts to spiral down that dark path where it had led me before. However, this time, I knew I could coax it back to whatever hell it came from, but it would take some time. I got up and began to pray. I listened to my favorite songs and even watched some comedians on YouTube. By focusing on brighter things, my mind was no longer held captive by thoughts of disease, sickness, and all the “What ifs,” and I was eventually able to get some sleep.
It became essential to decrease my time on news feeds and social media and increase time connecting with friends and family and being outside. I also took on some small projects, like putting up a house and feeder for the birds and some larger ones like launching my first book, interestingly enough, called Unstuck. I found these activities, along with many prayers, allowed me to be distracted, which helped keep my emotions and mood balanced.
In Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus tells us not to worry and says this, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap and store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”
After reading this, I began to find great comfort listening to the birds outside my window during quiet mornings in prayer. I settled into a new routine, and for several weeks I was feeling good. I was feeling happy.
As restrictions began being lifted, I was excited as I was growing weary of the isolation and trying to be a mother, teacher, and friend to my child all day while my husband was at work. However, this next stage also brought back the fear of me or my family contracting COVID-19. We ventured out to a few places and began to visit family members. It felt so good to be out and about, see friends and family and support my local community’s small businesses (even if I had to wear a mask), but every time I came home, I wondered, “Did I do the right thing?”
I started watching the news again and checking the numbers, feeding my fear and low and behold; there it was, anxiety. I pictured it sitting there with a grin, saying, “I’m back!” Even as I write this, I continue to struggle as it tries to draw me in and wrap me in its dark cloak. Although it might sit here taunting me, I am confident I won’t let it win.
Philippians 4:6-8 tells us not to be anxious about anything. It tells us to give thanks, pray, and focus our thoughts on good things. It tells us the peace of God is far greater than we can imagine and his peace will guard our hearts and our minds.
I am not in control of who this virus infects or when we will be able to gather and hug our friends and family again, but I am in control of whether or not I let fear of the unknown steal my joy. When I feel it creeping in, I go back to the things I know will keep me from spiraling: prayer, people, music, laughter, writing, and nature — all the good things.
Lori Sanders is an author and speaker who finds joy in simple living. After decades spent as a speech pathologist, she decided to revisit and follow her dreams and passions of writing, photography, and helping others. Lori resides in East Texas with her husband and son. You can connect with her at www.lorisanders.com
The content in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with questions you have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.