Apr 1, 2024
Her Perspective

Walk a mile in my shoes

I’ve never suffered from anxiety disorder or clinical depression. Lucky for me, the brain I was born with is wired to be happy-go-lucky and positive-vibey. Joy can be found just looking out the window at a pretty cloud or tree. I’m not one to worry about things — I do my best, then move forward to the next situation, day, month, year. If I feel stress, I play some uplifting music or go outside and find something less stressful to think about, lalalala.

Recently, I’ve had a few friends and family members dealing with anxiety. It’s been hard for me to understand. I did some research — Siri says anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental illnesses. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless or tense, a sense of impending doom, increased heart rate/shortness of breath, feeling weak or tired, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal problems and trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

Wow. Researching these symptoms makes me feel bad for the out-of-touch, flippant advice I’ve given my friends and family members: “You’ll be fine; think positive; try not to think about it; you gotta eat — you’re too skinny; this too shall pass; it’ll all work out in the end…” Geez, my words sound so careless. But until you’ve walked in someone’s shoes, you can’t know how they feel. You can’t relate.

For the first time in my life, I walked in those shoes. Lalalala me was recovering from cancer and a total hysterectomy when I got an unrelated abnormal/no bueno medical test result. Which required more testing. And needles. I hate needles.

Guess who didn’t take her own advice? Waiting weeks for the results, I had high anxiety, but it wasn’t a funny Mel Brooks film. Zero appetite, zero energy, a terrible stomachache, and I only listened to sad songs — my mindset was total doom and gloom. As soon as I got the call that the test result was not cancer, mysteriously and almost instantly I felt better. It is so strange where your mind goes when you are given bad news as opposed to good news, especially when it is life-threatening. My fog lifted quickly, but for others it’s not so simple.

I will never belittle anyone who suffers from anxiety again. I only had it for a short time, but it was awful. I’ve never had a panic attack but suddenly I feel empathy for Ted Lasso. I want to re-watch that fantastic show knowing what I now know about anxiety. I think it will give me new perspective.

We should all listen to these words from Joe South’s 1968 song:

Walk a mile in my shoes

Hey, before you criticize and accuse

Walk a mile in my shoes

To those of you out there suffering from this illness, I hope to be a better friend/relative. In the words of Tedd Lasso himself, I appreciate you.

P. S. Dang, this month’s theme is “Indulge” and I went off-roading about anxiety. Well maybe I can tie this up with a bow. During my worst anxiety-ridden week we impulsively bought a beach condo. I don’t know where the super-frugal, save-your-pennies-for-a-rainy-day me was. When the agent showed us the sunset view from the balcony, I was channeling my inner Eeyore — thinking how many sunsets do I have left? No regrets. One never knows when one’s number is up. Enjoy every sunset. Indulge. Also, frugal me is thankful our fourth child got into an in-state university. Cheers to Bright Futures!


Liz Biggs is a Pensacola native and mother of four. Once upon a time, she had a high-pressure career but now she has a pension and is a freelance writer for Bella Magazine. Liz enjoys music, dancing, tennis and travel and tries to find humor in everything.