Like wearing florals for spring, feeling anxious right now isn’t exactly groundbreaking. People all over the world are getting sick, losing their jobs and worried about their loved ones. It’s an unprecedented global pandemic, and it’s completely natural to feel uncertain, out of sorts or freaked out. But what about feeling crushing guilt because you’re feeling anxious.
Now, anxiety and guilt are nothing new to me. As a first-born, double Virgo who was raised Catholic, guilt is in my blood. And I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and usually keep it at bay with therapy and medication.
But this is something new. It’s different from guilt-spiraling, where you feel shame about binge-watching Too Hot to Handle while your friends in healthcare risk their safety every day. This is feeling shame for your feelings, and discounting your own thoughts and anxieties. It’s feeling bad for feeling bad. And it’s a bit harder to remedy than other types of guilt. For example, if you feel guilty for forgetting your friend’s birthday, you can apologize and send her a nice note or gift. If you feel guilty for being able to stay home while nurses are on the frontlines, you could donate meals to your local hospital. The issue with anxiety guilt is that you’re not guilty about something you’re doing (or not doing); you’re guilty for an inactionable feeling.
Anxiety guilt can take many forms, but this is what it sounds like to me: You have no right to be scared right now. How can you be anxious out when you're healthy and you still have a job? Why can’t you handle this stress better? You’re selfish. Basically, it sucks.