One of the things I miss in the new translation of the Mass are the words, "deliver us from all anxiety." Somehow "deliver us from all distress," while presumably more accurate to the Latin, isn't as meaningful to me, especially when I am in the grips of an anxiety attack. I want to be delivered from anxiety, not just distress!
Since I've admitted to suffering from anxiety, I've been surprised at how many people have told me that they, too, have had their experience with this particular demon. People who appear to have their lives in complete order, with success in every aspect from relationships to finances, say that they battled or still do battle anxiety.
I'm not sure that misery loves company is quite accurate in this case, but it is interesting how many people carry this dark secret. And make no mistake...this is a very dark secret. The kind of dark secret that is usually associated with alcoholism, drug addiction or other types of haunting addictions. It's one thing to say that you are nervous; it's another to admit that even when you are sitting safely in a chair, looking out into a bright spring day, your heart is racing, there's a stabbing pain in your solar plexus and you don't feel like you are going to survive another minute, much less another day or week or month.
I wish I could tell those of you who have confided in me that I have the answer, the solution. I don't. Sometimes I get a modicum of relief and have a respite from the fear, but so far it has always returned. For me, it begins with my first breath in the morning, rising to a crescendo by mid-afternoon and, on the good days, diminishing by evening. Sometimes, by the time the moon is rising, I actually have moments of calm and peace. Those moments I treasure and try not to think that they will be gone by break of day.
It's the hardest battle I've ever fought and I'm not sure that I will win. All I know is that I keep trying and keep fighting and keep praying that perhaps, just perhaps, when the sun rises one morning, the demon will be left perpetually in the dark night of my soul.