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Despite the flooding anxiety, I find calmness in the rain

If you are my friend in Kansas and surrounding states, you get this…literally. For the last three days we have seen multitudes of continual rain engulfing much of the roads and fields we see each day. And, even though today glared the light called sunshine, overflowing rivers and newly formed, unplanned ponds still keep erupting. (Ocean front property, right?)

But more than wet, moist, liquidated drops of rain-water, my last couple weeks have also been “flooded” with days that never seem to end, children that never seem as happy-go-lucky as Disney portrays, adulthood-syndromes that never seem treatable, expectations that never seen reached and a to-do list that never seems done. In the many roles we play each day, it feels like we are often drowning in the standards of living that we so diligently aimed for in a human-world of high-expectation chaos. Outside of Christmas and related holidays, this can be one of the hardest times of year, especially for people like me: members of the 25 million Americans that, according to the American Psychiatric Association (2019), struggle with the most common mental illness in the United States: anxiety.

After I gulp the pride that heirs society to hide our struggles for fear of the mental health stigma, I reach for the commonalities you and I maintain. We are those who love the rain. It speaks our language. We greet the calming, drumming sound of things that are consistent; the smell of a fresh, reviving air that our deep, apprehensive breathing can finally take in; the touch of a cold, wet raindrop grounding our thoughts back to the day we are in…the moment before us (we may have not been there lately); the salty taste of something new and renewing; a view of moving water, gracefully modifying everything it confronts.

Thunder and lightning almost match the pulsing of our anxiety, more times than less. Sometimes they strike, shake, stir our earth and a scar is born. Other times, they flash and growl from a hidden view though their presence is still abundant. Like them, our internal storms can also take our breath away. But with rain comes hope. Maybe not in the most simplest of ways. Maybe not in the way we expect. Maybe not in with the ease we prefer…but then again, what of the best ever does?

Here’s the top four reasons why we, rock stars who struggle with anxiety, love the rain:

  1. Our minds can keep running and rain calms it down.

Some call it multitasking. I like to call it a mind athlete: Gold award. Intentionally or not, things that could, should, would happen pace rapidly in our minds. Often they get entangled with the reflections of every previous moment of our being (and often everyone else’s too). It’s like we are running on the circumference of the earth, over and over, never crossing the same path exactly but never having an end. But the sound of the rain becomes the timekeeper that blows the whistle of our minds. Rain helps us pull all five senses from their hidden rooms. Awareness of the moment, the here, the now become prevalent. Our running mind slows….sometimes even halts. Rain paces our mind to a calming tone and pattern that can mimic the soothing power of a Native American dancing, drum rhythm.

  1. Rain mimics our struggles and shows us how to endure despite a flood.

The cognitive, emotional, social, and even spiritual struggles of a person with anxiety are hard to put into words. Some love thunder and lightning; but like our struggles, some may be so fearful of them, uneasy, or assume they may entail the worse that the possibility of what could come floods the mind. Sometimes the anxiety is just a light rain: a drizzle in our lives. Other times, it can rage severe thunderstorms within us that limit our condition, mobility, and even safety. But, as always, we can believe the storm will eventually pass, and no matter how powerful it was or what destruction the storm leaves behind, the rain remains alive, paced and continual. It brings a calming tone to an un-calm place and eases the intensity of the storm. It’s resiliency models have before, during, and after a storm, we will survive.

  1. Rain shows us how change happens and can lead to a better, clearer future.

One of the most unavoidable yet despaired aspects of anxiety is change: the unknown and the what-ifs. It’s like a raindrop racing from the sky to plummet to the soft soil below.

Maybe it will change the form of the soil of which it hits?

Maybe it will crack the root of the grass upon which it falls?

Maybe it will suffocate the life of the flower on which it settles?

Maybe, but it rarely does. Raindrops fearlessly face the challenge of demise and result in restorations of life. Instead of being lost in the grime, rain cleans out the dirt it fell into. It gives nutrients to the soil. Rain adds life to a dry, cracked, or bare foundation. Though the change it forms is unavoidable, it is with that change that beauty is created, nurtured and explored. Sometimes, like rain, we have to trust the end results are worth the journey of change.

4. Rain comes with rainbows of hope.

Sometimes the storms of anxiety feel like a warning should be declared. The breathing, the thinking, and the fear may distract us from audible rhythm of the rain. Dark clouds may seem to hover over our mind. We wonder, when will it end? And, just when we question our questions even more, the clouds shift enough to see a sliver of light shining through. New colors are created. A red, green, purple, semi-circled rainbow brings new light from those situations and people who help calm the room, the mind, and the soul. The wind begins to die down as the calming tone of the rain helps regain focus on the beauty before us.

The rainbows show that we made it through the storm! It declares the flood will diminish, the impact of rain will end, and our colorful, splendor will shine as a strong, alive, and amazingly beautiful part of the world.

*As a social worker and foster parent I do and have worked with people of all ages that struggle with broad aspects of stress and anxiety. This blog is to offer support to share that you, they, and we are not alone in this journey. Blessings!*

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