Sisters and Brothers in Arms

It is important for those who struggle with and who are learning to overcome anxiety to share with one another, and uplift each other.

When she walked into my office I recognized her immediately. It wasn’t her looks or appearance that sparked my recollection, no it wasn’t what she looked like. It wasn’t her attire, no not her outfit that I recognized. It wasn’t even her voice that fostered a memory in my mind, no nothing that she sounded like. It was her demeanor that was familiar, the emotion she brought into the room when she entered it. It was the look on her face, the tears swelling in her eyes, and the sense of new found helplessness in the tone of her voice that I was well accustomed to. I recognized her by her anxiety, because it was the same thing I feel and see when I am under attack.

Other people in the room were shocked at her conduct as she entered the office; flustered and clearly upset. The look of question was written all over everyone’s face, with the thought of “Is she crying?” tattooed in their expressions. Everyone in the office seemed astounded by her emotion and tears, everyone but me. I knew exactly where she was coming from and what state she was in. I knew that same feeling of desperation for calm, and the feeling of being utterly out of control in more ways than one. Other people may have had the thought of, “her day must not be going well” when in reality it is probably her entire week that had added multiple variables of stress leading her to this conclusion. Here she was now standing in a busy office full of pedestrians with tears in her eyes seeking some help.

She was lost and in need of some direction around our big campus to know where she should take her children. That’s all; she needed some guidance, and unfortunately hadn’t come in contact with any decently helpful people. Maybe it was the inflection in her voice, or the tears she was failing at holding back. It could have been her obvious attempt to hold onto her strength as she was overcome with an overwhelming sense of frustration. As the failure of her attempted grasp on composure was beginning to register and she couldn’t even voice her need without the tears she was holding back breaking free from all their constraints to fall on her face. I rose from my seat immediately to assist, to grasp her hand and let her know I was going to help her. I couldn’t let her sink further into that hole of panic and despair; I had to grab hold of her and lead her out.

I saw myself in this stranger, I saw a place I’ve been numerous times, the place of extraordinary panic. Luckily for me at this particular moment when she entered my office I was not at this place of panic, but I knew how she felt and I knew at any moment I could be just as desperate for calm as she was. I lead her to exactly where she needed to be, and I listened to her as she explained to me her current trouble. It wasn’t long that our conversation turned from her current turmoil to her life’s frustration. It wasn’t just her directionally challenging moment that had her in a fluster, it was the week she had, and the emotions she had been carrying around with her for the past few days.

Oh, how I already knew her story.

She explained how she was very anxious and felt quite helpless when she entered my office looking for assistance. I told her I understood, and had been at the very same place she had been. Although, I am not a mother, I haven’t experienced her exact life circumstances. I have experienced my own version of terror and I have experienced my own version of desperation. Anxiety shows up to many different people with many different faces. It is important for those who struggle with and who are learning to overcome anxiety to share with one another, and uplift each other. We will always battle with anxiety; it’s like our archenemy in life always returning to challenge our character.   It is important for us to recognize our sisters and brothers in arms in this daily battle against fear. WE have the ability to lead one another to our calm.  

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