I’ve been called Intense. Spastic. Dramatic. Fierce. Passionate. A force of nature. All of those descriptors come with the same level of emotions which can be extremely overwhelming to manage. And then enters anxiety.
As early as four years old I can remember having anxiety and panic attacks. My mind would race, my heart would feel like it was literally going to jump out of my body, my hands would shake, and I couldn’t catch my breath if my life depended on it. Home life situations made me feel completely out of control so I tried to control everything else. I needed to be first, the best, right, the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, but of course I couldn’t be any of that so I fell into patterns of melancholy and mediocrity as I just tried to hold my insides together as I waited for this insane merry go round to stop so I could get off.
As I began my walk with Christ I added guilt to my list of things I wasn’t doing right because of course if I was having panic attacks then I wasn’t trusting God so I must have not fully given myself over to Him as I still tried to control even the breath in my lungs. When I had to be put on medication to control the paranoia and intensity of the anxiety I got to add depression to my list of things I couldn’t control because somehow I should have seen this coming and I should have been mentally stronger to be able to handle all of life’s demands without medication.
I go through cycles of obsessively but privately worrying myself about cancer or not protecting my children, or giving them the wrong kind of milk that will lead to some sort of environmental disease. I’ll exercise and eat completely perfect for a while to control that aspect of my life only to be distracted by some relationship I’ve allowed to go awry and then the anxiety and panic sets in of “not being able to hold it all together.”
I can’t tell you how many nights I have sat on the floor of my closet in the dark with the door closed gasping for air, crying for God to save me from myself and for Him to give me the right answers for all these things I can’t control. I don’t want anyone to have to deal with this irrational crazed woman. I don’t want my children to have walk on eggshells around me worried about what might set me off.
A few months back a dear friend told me I really needed to stop trying to self improve all the time. But what I have found over the years is I have wasted so much time and energy and mental health trying to stop things from ever happening by being able to think 15 minutes faster than anyone else.
If you are pursued by the demons of anxiety and depression here is my hope to share with you.
-Stop trying to out run them. That’s their tactic. Turn into them and call them for what they are.
– You are not disappointing God with this behavior. He is not surprised. There is no condemnation so forgive yourself.
-Accept that there are parts of you that feel more, think more, hurt more. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
-We live in a fallen world so if you need medication for a little while or a long while don’t punish yourself even further by not taking it.
-This is one I struggle with but I’m working on it. Be grateful for the pain. Live out Romans 8. What would I need God for if I didn’t have this daily limp from wrestling with Him for my whole life?
-Press into His word and His truth. Our Hope can only come from God. We can’t let the world define who we are. I refuse to live in fear but even though I still try to be the best, to have all the answers, to appear to have it together each day is a daily or sometimes hourly surrender to God. He is the only answer I really need. As maddening as it is for someone like me that can’t seem to handle the simplicity, God is the answer.
My hope shared with you today is if you are like me and battle anxiety or are close to someone that does, God can handle you. He can handle you beating on His chest, He can handle you running away screaming like a mad woman, He can handle your constant questioning of who, what, where, and why.
The scripture I struggle with the most is Psalm 46:10. I have it tattooed on my left shoulder blade as a daily reminder to try as hard as I can to “be still and know He is God.”
But Him. The author and creator of all things. He is in charge. He is responsible.
That is my hope.