I never knew I had anxiety, and never defined myself as having this “disorder.” The symptoms of anxiety, like being in a constant state of worry or having restless sleep cycles, were never symptoms to me, just life. So, I guess maybe I’ve always had an anxiety disorder if these are the symptoms?
Reflecting on my Past
As a little girl I was shy and quiet socially. Being in school, I would hate being called out for anything, not having homework, talking, or not paying attention, so I was an immaculate student. I always did my homework and turned it in on time, sat quietly at my desk, and knew what was going on at all times.
I hated being called out so much that I can tell you the exact few moments I was called out at school or forgot my homework–I remember them vividly. During those few moments, I think I had a panic attack. I would get all hot and on the verge of tears just because I forgot to do my science workbook pages.
Going through high school and college were no different, except that the pile of responsibility got higher. I would still worry and freak out if I ever missed or forgot something, but I learned how to deal with it better. In those few moments of forgetfulness I would remember I am simply human, and so were my teachers and bosses, who always gifted me with kindness and compassion.
However, I’d never fully excuse myself after any little thing I might’ve forgotten, and my mistake would sit at the top of my mind for hours. I’d then get frustrated at myself for not being able to let it go, complaining about my mistake, knowing I’m being irrational yet still unable to subdue my feelings. And this is still my reality.
Realizing my Struggle
In today’s day and age, I think everyone has some form of anxiety. If not now from the pandemic, then from how we interact and respond to societal pressures. It wasn’t until quarantine time that I realized I have a form of anxiety. The fact that we were going through a pandemic was not the trigger, but that I had nothing to do and nowhere to go.
When quarantine started I was on spring break. I had nothing to do, but I still found myself worried and anxious about the now small list of tasks. Before, I thought that it was understandable I was worried–I had such a long list of things to do and places to be that it justified my worry. Not anymore, though. That’s when some truths were revealed to me, with the root of it all being worry, never letting me be present.
My kind boyfriend was the one to point it out, as he can see more of me than I can. He told me how out on dates or when spending time together I seemed out of it. He didn’t feel seen or heard. He immediately told me not to get mad at myself, as he knows I have that habit. We then talked through the issue, coming up with some actionable solutions, but the root of the problem was something inside I had to work on myself.
But where do I even start? Well, I turned to prayer and communication. I asked God for peace, spoke my feelings to my boyfriend, and asked for guidance from my aunt who also struggles with anxiety. She shared her own struggles and her coping methods here and with me, giving me a solid foundation for self-reflection.
But then my spring break ended, and as the responsibility and workload increased, the worry returned. Though I now knew how to better combat it, I still struggled. A then I came across this quote…
Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”St. Padre Pio
How I’m Combating my Worry and Anxiety with Padre Pio
I can’t tell you exactly how I heard or read this quote for the first time, but I remember my initial thought was: Don’t worry? It’s useless?! How?! I need to worry! Then I realized how useless worry actually is.
I know that worry is useless, I’ve known it’s useless, but I still feel it regardless. I don’t want to feel worry, but I still do. I realized this is a symptom of anxiety and acknowledged the fact I do have a small disorder. I hated admitting it, because having a disorder means I’m broken. Well, duh, of course I’m a little broken. I’M HUMAN. We are flawed. But we can’t let it stop there.
We are broken and flawed but can be restored (after all this is what this ministry is about!). Once I remembered this hope was when Padre Pio entered my life. At least once a day I hear his name mentioned or come across a post about him on social media, and I’m reminded of his famous words of encouragement.
Padre Pio was a humble man who reminds me greatly of my abuelo (grandpa). The saint used to sit and listen to people’s confessions for about 10 hours a day as many lined up from all around the world to meet with him (source). I feel Padre Pio’s peacefulness as he listens to my worry and reassures me it’s in God’s hands.
Still Struggling…but There’s Hope
I’m still combating my worry and anxiety but have felt relief through different practices and the intercession of Padre Pio.
Some of the tools and practices that help me are:
- Prayer. Repeating one word or phrase only.
- Going to Adoration
- Monk Manual
- Leaving worry for a certain time of the day
- Circle of Influence
- Communicating/talking through my feelings
- Journaling/writing down my feelings.
Also, I made a wallpaper for my phone with the quote as a reminder to pray, hope, and don’t worry. Because worry is useless–our God is merciful and will hear our prayers!
I know I’m going to be struggling with worry and anxiety for a while, but I also know there’s hope for me to be restored!
If you struggle at times with worry and anxiety, know I’m praying for you and am here to help you. I love you!