by: Winnie Chang
We're almost heading to a 2-year mark of COVID and have seen the effects of COVID. I believe that one effect that we need to better understand is how anxiety is a way that our bodies alert us and help us to keep living. This is often not taught to us. What we are often taught (especially in the western world) is to get this uncomfortable feeling fixed fast, or even pray it away. I'm not saying prayer isn't important, but what I want to get across is that on top of that, we need to actively care for and ask ourselves what is going on. We often don't realize that we try to shut ourselves up and stuff things in. I've had mental health struggles since I was in the 3rd grade and in my experience growing up as an Asian American, there is a lot of stigma and shame towards mental health. In addition to that, I became a follower of Jesus in my freshmen year of college and personally found it difficult to find refuge in the church. The lack of acknowledgment and conversations about mental health seemed to make me feel like I needed to stuff down more of my own questions and doubts. What if instead we engaged in conversation and decided to listen to our bodies? Consider exploring how scripture tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Ask yourself: How can we truly love our neighbor if we don't tend to and care for our own physical, emotional, and mental parts of our bodies? The Creator created us in His image, and I truly believe that God wants us to live a life filled with joy, hope, and abundance. Honestly, I struggle with these three words and used to be ashamed because of it. Yet as I sat in the tensions of doubt, pain, depression, anxiety, and trauma; my God would still step with me into my chaos, depression, anxiety, and trauma. Those were the reminders I had needed and still will need in moments of deep pain, sorrow, and anxiety.
These past couple of years, I've attended therapy and recently started taking medicine for my anxiety. The theme that kept being brought up was how if can I bring stories to at least one person, then it can counteract my past experience of pain and hurt that has contributed to my anxiety and depression. I indeed needed my ecosystem to be rewritten because the reality of collective trauma, childhood trauma, and other stressors were fire alarms all of the time. I'm advocating for all of you to bring up how you are feeling holistically with one or two people. You might even consider giving psychotherapy a chance if you think that might be in the slightest helpful. I know this may be hard to find since there is a huge demand right now and not enough therapists. But, I would love to help if you ask me (find my email address on the "our team" page)! It takes time and this requires risk, and maybe even disappointments, when we invite someone into our hurts, pains, and triggers to our mental illness or health. I want to acknowledge that you will have moments when you'll be disappointed and hurt, that is normal. Yet, I want to remind you that you would have taken the courage to invite someone into your ecosystem, where you might've felt alone and on fire.
If you can bring stories to a person, then it can counteract your past experience. Ask yourself: "Is there someone who might be willing to help me rewrite my ecosystem?" After that, ask them: "Are you willing to help rewrite my ecosystem with me?"