Our family is an anxious family. It can’t be denied. I personally like to think that it’s linked to our collective high IQs (Ruby once told me, “I hate being smart because it makes me able to realize just how much there is to worry about!”), but in reality, it’s just a part of who we are and how we relate to the world through a lens of what is, if we’re being honest, a mental illness. (Ruby did a video about it here.)
If there are many bad things about a shared family diagnosis of anxiety – and believe me, there are – there are at least a few bright sides, as well. And while I have obviously had my share of anxiety attacks over the fact that I feel guilty for giving my kids anxiety (i.e., I have anxiety about their anxiety), I also take solace in the fact that I, almost 40, have learned a lot of techniques over the years for managing my anxiety that I can pass along to my kids.
Earlier today, I told Ruby, who was having crippling anxiety over her homework, that the best thing to do was take action.
“It’s easy to feel so overwhelmed that you get almost paralyzed,” I told her, “but that actually just keeps you in a holding pattern with your anxiety. The best way to fight it is to make a list of what you need to do – and then start taking action. The more you get done, the more you realize you can do it.”
She grumbled … but then she started making her to-do list, and within an hour, she felt noticeably better.
Living in New Orleans, it’s easy to feel deep and justified anxiety about climate change and hurricanes and coastal erosion – but students at my alma mater, Ben Franklin, aren’t just feeling anxious. They have planned an environmental forum tonight in partnership with the Loyola College Democrats and its Environment Program to host a night of discussion and debate with state representatives from districts 91 and 98.
The program will begin at 7 p.m. with Franklin students moderating a forum focused on local environmental issues, including coastal restoration, renewable energy, and the effects of climate change on our city and state. Following that, the Loyola Young Democrats will host a debate for the candidates running for District 98, which covers the Riverbend through Audubon, the university area, Carrollton, and Freret; the debate will encompass a wider range of local concerns, such as crime, flooding, and education.
“As someone who lives in District 98 and is a part of the so-called ‘climate change generation,’ it feels special to have the opportunity to hear from our possible representative on protecting and preserving the place we call home,” said Franklin senior Yehuda Potash.
Kady Clincy, who teaches AP Environmental Science at Franklin, agrees: “New Orleans is one of the most environmentally fragile communities in the country,” she said. “I find when I cover habitat loss, climate change, and sea level rise in my class, my students often feel helpless. They worry that the home they love won’t exist for their children and grandchildren. By organizing this forum, my students have turned their hopelessness into action. They have found a pragmatic way to ensure these issues are discussed by the people tasked with addressing them.”
In other words, they’ve found something that makes them anxious – and found a way to channel that into something that makes them feel hopeful.
Even if you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder but just normal, reasonable anxiety about things it makes sense to be anxious about, that’s an inspiring message!
The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Nunemaker Auditorium on Loyola’s campus, 6363 St. Charles Ave. There will be free parking across campus, including the West Road Garage.