What I’m Learning about Myself as I Deliver Groceries

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Two weeks ago, I found out that I am what I hate — entitled. I realized it while sitting in congested city traffic, panicking over whether my next Shipt delivery would be on time. It had been an awful day for tips and I reeked of sweat. I was hungry, thirsty, and totally flustered. It didn’t help that my anxiety disorder was operating at full throttle. That’s when this outburst came bubbling up from my soul:

This is RIDICULOUS! I have my Master’s degree! I am a teacher! I’m not supposed to be doing this kind of work! I can’t…

Encouragement for writers in the age of information overload

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Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Four years ago, I found myself in a season any aspiring writer would envy: I had the desire, the ideas, and the time to start writing. My husband had just relocated to San Diego for a new career, and I was slated to join him six months later, after wrapping up my tenth year of teaching. We had moved out of our home, and I was living at my in-laws’. Instead of maintaining an entire house, I simply had to tidy my room and help with dishes and trash. …

Take it from someone with an anxiety disorder.

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Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

Abby approaches as I circulate the classroom. Her eyes are wide, and her shoulders, tensed up.

“Ms. Ciccone, can I talk to you for a second?”

“Of course!”

I lead her into the hallway for some semblance of privacy. I face the open door to keep an eye on my students’ shenanigans as her voice shakes:

“Ms. Ciccone, I’m really anxious right now.”

Her hands are trembling.

“Okay, I’m glad you told me. What usually helps you when you’re anxious, Abby?”

“Sometimes, it helps when I walk around.”

“Okay, Abby. Here, take this pass with you. …

I grew up thinking I was dying, and now I don’t.

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Photo by Jeremy McKnight on Unsplash

In this time of COVID, it’s no surprise that people are experiencing health anxiety (previously known as hypochondria) at a greater intensity and frequency than before (National Institutes of Health). This is a pandemic, after all.

I know health anxiety all too well — I spent my entire childhood and adolescence with it. Seventeen-year-old-me would have never believed that twenty years later, she would live through a pandemic without freaking out 110% of the time.

In fact, I’m not really freaking out about COVID at all. …

A brain gone wild needs a place to recover.

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Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

I feel like this piece could end with the title, because if you know, you know. Well, actually, if you know, you might think this is about the nausea that sometimes accompanies anxiety. It’s not.

This is about the sanctuary many of us with anxiety disorders seek and find in bathroom stalls, because where else?

My Initiation

The first time I sought mental refuge in a bathroom stall, I was in Kazakhstan. Yes, Kazakhstan. I basically spent three summers there during college with a small team of other college kids. …

Lack of awareness made me confuse symptoms for sin.

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Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

Within much of the Christian church, the word “anxiety” is stained with the stigma of sin and shame. I knew this long before I developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), thanks to a sermon I sat through back in 2002.

I was 19, and home for the summer, having just finished my first year of college. I sat in the sanctuary of the church I grew up in, waiting with some friends for the 9:30 service to begin.

Stepping into the bright lights, the worship pastor used his best radio-announcer voice to say, “Rise, let us stand and worship the Lord!”…

Spiritual reflections from a still-unemployed English teacher

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Photo by Markos Mant on Unsplash

Hi Tiffany,

We appreciate your support these past two years. We consolidated all of the part-time positions so we don’t have any vacancies at this point in time.

I got that email a year ago, and I’ve been unemployed ever since. I’m a teacher, and like most educators, I derive great meaning from what I do. I had 12 years of teaching under my belt in the San Francisco Bay Area before my husband and I moved to San Diego for his career.

To my surprise, the teaching profession down here is ridiculously impacted. God provided me with part-time, temporary…

Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things” is for all of us.

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Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

Last month, I spent an hour a day teaching an online reading comprehension class to some incoming seniors. I had to create the entire curriculum, which proved especially tricky. I included this poem, “The Peace of Wild Things,” by Wendell Berry, because… well… because of several reasons, but mainly because it speaks so directly to our entire world today. I think it will speak to you too.

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and…

I’m tired of writing about anxiety.

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Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

So I signed up for this challenge to blog every day of August. Totally doable. Except. My topic is my anxiety disorder and the mess it makes when mixed with my Christian faith. I thought this wouldn’t be too hard, because I have a messy 90 page manuscript on the topic, and over a decade of experiences upon which to reflect.

I’m pretty wrong. It’s not easy. I’m tired of recalling the most difficult moments of my life. It’s satisfying to find words to convey the darkness, but it’s still darkness. It’s not fun stuff to recall.

Then there’s all…

Tiffany Ciccone

English teacher/writer in San Diego. Lover of Truth, Jesus, and being real. Coping with GAD. Join my newsletter to keep in touch: https://tinyurl.com/yx8h38tf

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