Anxieties of today fade by comparisonPublished 9:10am Monday, May 7, 2012
Column: Something About Nothing
It is no secret that I have had some health issues the past year. It is no secret that along with other issues I was plagued with anxiety. Once I shared that I was having a problem with anxiety, I found many other people shared my plight. It helped to know I was not alone.
As I was having a quiet moment recently and contemplating the ups and downs of life I had visions of the women who came before us. I had visions of the women who were the settlers of our country. They didn’t have easy lives. They didn’t have the rights and the comforts we have.
These settler women often had to set up housekeeping on land that didn’t have a house or a home until their families settled there.
I wondered how they coped with anxiety in their times. People did not live as long as we do now. It was not unusual for people to die in their 30s and 40s. These women had to be strong women. They didn’t have indoor bathrooms, running water, electricity, cars, fancy houses or the medicine we have today.
How did these women cope with anxiety without the medication we have today? Did they know what anxiety was? Did their home remedies work? Did they tell anyone? Would their husbands and families understand or did they need to keep anxiety a secret if they were panicky?
I remember when I was younger and some relatives had problems with anxiety and depression, it was whispered. They would never have admitted it, and there were many jokes made about people being mentally unstable. It was not a kind world for those people having problems with depression and anxiety.
Perhaps in the olden days you did what you had to do and you didn’t obsess about it. Or perhaps you suffered in silence.
My mind wandered on to our lives today. I can’t imagine a settler woman walking into a house and proclaiming that the kitchen wasn’t up to par because it didn’t have granite countertops and the latest and greatest cooking appliances. I imagine settler women would have been happy to have running water. They had to pump water from wells and carry it inside. Today we can’t live with one bathroom, and when looking for a home double sinks are a must because it is too hard to share with our husbands.
Settler women didn’t have to worry that there weren’t enough cars to go around for the kids and that each kid had to have their own room. The kids were probably happy if they had their own bed. I remember my grandmother’s house on the farm with no running water, an outhouse and a wooden cook stove that heated the house. Seven kids grew up in that house, and I know there were not seven bedrooms. Actually there were only four rooms and the attic. You could have fit three of those rooms into my family room. Yet, my grandmother seemed happy.
I think about the things that I am anxious about and realize they fade in comparison to all the hard work my ancestor women did. I have it easy. Perhaps their anxiety was more about practical things that were important to stay alive.
I clutter up my life with insignificant things to worry about. Yes, I worry about my family and friends and world peace and more serious things, but I also worry about items that shouldn’t cause me anxiety. I can get caught up in not having the right apparel for an occasion or my nails not looking presentable. I can get caught up in anxiety if my newspaper doesn’t arrive on time or my computer breaks down. I can get caught up in anxiety if there are weeds in my yard.
Anxiety and depression are different for each one of us. It is a serious problem, and I don’t mean to make light of it. I just wondered what we would do without all the modern medicine, technology and self help that is available to us today. Would we survive? Are we strong enough? Or does my modern life cause my anxiety. Would my life have been simpler and less stressful if I had lived in the settler times? Would your life have been less stressful?
I will never know. I was just wondering.
Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.