Although the US Gulf Coast hurricane season technically runs from May 1 to November 1, Houston tends to see the worst storms in August and September. Most recently, Ike and Harvey were both major weather events in this time period. Houston managed to escape a direct hit from Laura a few weeks ago, but other parts of the region were not so lucky.
Tropical Storm Beta dumped rain on us all day yesterday and overnight. The storm is dissipating, but a few bands have hung around. It’s hard to express the anxiety that accompanies rain for me. During Harvey, we spent five days helplessly watching the water rise toward our front door. We were among the lucky ones who did not flood, but it was a nerve wracking week.
I know many others in the Greater Houston area who share these feelings of dread and uncertainty that accompany sustained periods of precipitation. For me, it reinforces a profound sense of helplessness. It’s scary to be at the mercy of something over which you have no control, no power.
Truthfully, there is so little over which we have control in our lives. Most of our time is spent convincing ourselves that we have power over things which we do not. There is this thin veneer of control under which we operate that allows us to get out of bed in the morning.
Therapy is one way that I’ve built resilience to manage this anxiety. I am better able to recognize my feelings of powerlessness and, instead of being held hostage by them, allow them to sit where they are. It’s intellectually dishonest to pretend that I am not experiencing these feelings and that they are not real to me. However, I can acknowledge them as valid while at the same time recognizing that focusing on them does not serve me. My attention and energy are better direct elsewhere.
As I am learning, this tool for managing my anxiety is critical for my recovery. Depression lies. Being able to recognize the lies that stem from anxiety and set them aside, without minimizing them or trying to act as if they aren’t real, is one of the most important things I can do to support my mental wellbeing.
How true. We project our anxieties about all the matters over which we have no control, in my case our health, our families’ safety, what’s left of my practice, and politics, onto the first event that shows up. Our refrigerator broke down, and it seemed to me like a great catastrophe. It isn’t; we can replace spoiled food (fortunately) and even buy a new refrigerator if necessary. Houses can be rebuilt, or other houses purchased. But none of the facts dispel anxiety; only self-awareness can.