Life as an Anxious Catholic

Hello!

Today’s post is about a subject that I’ve discussed in previous posts. But today, I’m going to be bringing it to you in a different way.

Let’s start with the basics.

Like I said in previous posts, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in December 2015 at the age of 19.

And living with GAD isn't always pleasant.
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In my case, GAD allows anything and everything to have the chance to make my stress and anxiety skyrocket. And often for little to no reason at all.

And GAD affects both the secular and religious aspects of my life.

Both areas can be difficult to maneuver, but the religious arena of my life seems more important or dominant. And in the religious aspect of my life, there are certainly subjects and ideas that are black and white, and there are probably things that are in the grey area. And sometimes my mind convinces me that there are more things in the grey area than there are in the black and white areas.

Please explain.

An example of this is when it comes to Confession. I say this because there are certain sins that I’ve struggled with that I know are black and white but my mind tried to convince me that they weren’t as bad as I knew they were. And if I didn’t go to Confession before I went to Mass, I wondered if I could receive the Eucharist or not.

This may not be so much anxiety as just trying to convince myself I didn't mess up as much as I really did.
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But there are some examples that are clearly caused by my GAD.

An example is prayer. I think the general recommendation for the amount of prayer a day is at least 15 to 20 minutes. But there’s also the concept of a “Holy Hour,” where you pray for an hour a day. Here lately, I’ve been trying to pray for at least 15 minutes a day. But sometimes, it’s closer to 30 minutes.

Even though there's this clear cut recommendation, anxiety still makes its way in.
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This is especially true when it comes to days when I’m busy or traveling. These are the days where I struggle to find time to sit down and pray in one sitting.

And this is where the anxiety comes in.
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I wonder if I’ve gotten the recommended amount of prayer in and if my prayer and the quality of my prayer actually count as prayer for that day.

Another example is veiling.

I started veiling during Mass and in the presence of Jesus (either in a church or chapel) probably in January or February of this year (2018).

There are multiple reasons why this could cause anxiety to rise up.
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These reasons include: Am I doing it for the right reasons? Am I bringing unnecessary attention to myself? What will people think or say when they see me wearing a veil? How do I answer honestly if they ask me why I’m veiling?

These are probably legitimate questions, it’s just that my mind tends to bring these questions out.

One last example are the conferences I’ve been attending since 2015.

These conferences are presented by a Catholic organization I was involved in all four years of college. And these conferences are held in January of each year in different cities across the United States.

These conferences are amazing experiences and opportunities. But my anxiety still breaks in.
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The conference this upcoming January will be the fifth one I’ve attended. In four of the five conferences, anxiety has made itself known.

  • The first conference: after I signed up and as the conference got closer, I was thinking to myself “I don’t really want to go.” And I don’t know if the thought “What am I doing?” crossed my mind or not. But I went ahead and attended anyway.
  • The second conference: For this conference, I knew that I would be working in a group. And I figured out that there would be no one that I knew in this group with me. After signing up, I distinctly remember thinking, “What have I done?”
  • The third conference: I don’t really remember any anxiety with this one, especially since I knew what was coming.
  • The fourth conference: This was in my senior year of college with only one semester left. And it was a leadership conference and I wasn’t necessarily in a leadership position they might have planned for. So my anxiety was making me wonder if I was even eligible to go or what I would get out of it. I even wondered how I could use the information they gave us.
  • The fifth conference: The organization that presents these conferences works predominantly with students even though they do provide tracks/resources for alumni. As an alumna of this organization, I know they have these resources in place for a reason. But that doesn’t stop my anxiety from making me wonder about and question my attendance.

Like I said, these conferences are amazing opportunities and experiences. And I’ve gotten something out of the four that I’ve attended so far and I hope that the same can be said of the one I’m attending in January.

What’s the point of all of this?

Anxiety can get in the way of things and make things difficult. It doesn’t care where in your life it wreaks havoc. It just does.

There may be things that I’m forgetting, or things that are small enough to not earn their section of this post (like am I sitting in someone’s unassigned-assigned pew?)

Even though my anxiety makes me struggle with certain things, that doesn't make me any less Catholic.
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So, if you’re a Catholic and struggle with anxiety like I do, please know that you’re not alone and that you’re just as Catholic as the rest of us. Every person has their own struggles. So please know that there is no such thing as a perfect Catholic.

And with that, I’m going to close out the post.

If something in this post stuck out to you, please comment, like, and share! And if you think someone in your life could benefit from this post, please share it with them!

Until next time!

-Victoria

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