An Interior Desert
So, let me start with a disclosure. Over the past several months, I have been struggling with anxiety. I'm not talking about feeling nervous but a deep, abiding sense deep within I've been unable to allay. I'd like to think of myself as a hyper-organized person, able to manage many projects at once, but recently it's become impossible for me to find any sense of peace. Some nights I would wake up suddenly, unable to get back to sleep; last week, while playing music, I felt nearly paralyzed while playing. There have been times when, in class or at Mass, that my heart begins to race and I start to perspire...outwardly I try to remain calm but, inwardly, I want to run away.
I'll admit that there was a huge level of shame in feeling this way. I like to be thought well of, to be regarded as having "everything together." Yet, if everything seemed fine on the outside, on the inside I felt like I had wandered into a desert where I could find neither shade nor water. For weeks, I've thought, "I really should say something to someone," but stopped myself because I was afraid people would think me crazy. So I stayed quiet, outwardly remaining diligent in my labors, inwardly feeling like things were fraying.
Last week, realizing I was growing irritable and fatigued and, feeling increasingly out of control, I did what I find hardest to do: I asked for help.
Now, I'm receiving the help I need.
The interior desert, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, arises "whenever the human being, wishing to be the sole architect of his nature and destiny, finds himself deprived of that which is the very foundation of all things." My desert, if I may so call it, was less a loss of foundation than a sandstorm: a sometimes blinding maelstrom stinging the eyes and causing disorientation. Since last week, with the support of my doctor and friends, the winds appear to be lessening and I'm feeling a renewed sense of peace.
It took swallowing my pride, an admission of finitude and limitation, but this morning I feel an increasing sense of hope and excitement, a growth in interior freedom. The months of my internal Lent seem to be ending as the light of an internal resurrection soothes the storm. My experience of Christian faith, of a growing friendship with the Lord, has been one of increasing freedom for the Gospel. In a spirit of renewed peace, I look forward to what the future holds, a future anticipated with joy and peace rather than anxiety.