Anxiety can be one of the most debilitating, horrible things to experience. Fearfulness is natural, worry is natural, but anxiety, at least for me, is obsessive fear and worry. It is intense at times, overwhelming, and scary. It can take control of everything in your life. The fear rules you and drives you.
I have struggled with anxiety my whole life, however, over the past couple of years, I have noticed that it has become even more of an issue and even more intense. There have been so many changes in my life over the last two years that have probably attributed to this, as well as the underlying anxieties I have always had.
I have talked about fear and worry quite frequently on my blog and I have always said how it is important to not let it get the best of you and to turn to God for help. For the last 6 months I can say that I have truly failed to follow my own advice. I was going through a really rough time with my mental health and other things in my life were being heavily affected. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it. I felt like I was stuck. I wanted to make a change and try to help myself, but at the same time, I didn’t want to. I neglected myself and I neglected God. I hardly prayed, I didn’t read scripture, I didn’t think it would do any good. I had really neglected my faith, which I told myself I never wanted to do again. It’s not that I had completely stopped believing, it’s just that I stopped trying to let it help me through what I was going through. I stopped trying. I still believed in God, but I didn’t do much to suggest that was true. I questioned a lot of things during this time…I even questioned if God actually cared because to me at the time, it seemed like he didn’t. It seemed like he wasn’t there for me.
Obviously, the thoughts I was having were far from true. Anxiety is a funny thing. I tricks you into believing such negative things. The thoughts are endless and overpowering sometimes, it’s hard not to be convinced that they are true. I feared that God wasn’t there for me during my struggles. My anxiety fuelled that worry for sure. I thought it so often that eventually I believed it, hence my hesitation to pray and to read scripture.
I had many conversations with my family, my friends, and Danny (Danny is my husband for those of you that don’t know) about what was making me anxious and asking how I should begin to deal with it. Many people in my life are fellow Christians so their number one answer was always to give it to God; to pray about it, read the bible, and have faith that He would work at making things better. The problem is that I am an impatient person when it comes to change. I know that patience is extremely important, especially when asking God to help you make change in your life (after all, everything is in His timing, not ours).
One day, I woke up with a sudden desire to speak to someone, a professional, about the problems I had been having. The whole time prior to this moment, I was too afraid to go speak to someone, or even too proud. I didn’t think I needed any help. I wanted to fight through things on my own. That clearly hadn’t been working, but I had wanted to pretend that it was. But that day, I knew it was time and all of the fear I had about making an appointment with a doctor/counsellor went away. I called my on-campus doctor and made an appointment immediately. The appointment was scheduled for the following day and I went, without fear. I knew that was God working through me to get the help that I (and everyone else) knew I needed.
After bi-weekly appointments and starting medication, I started to feel better. However, I slipped back into the fear that God was no longer there with me. He pushed me to go see a doctor, but after those few days, the courage wore off, and fear crept back in. I worried that it would be a long time again before God intervened like he had before, and I was fearful of the uncertainty.
A few months passed and I had many ups and downs, but overall, I felt much better than I had before. I started to pray more regularly and went back to reading my bible and my daily devotion books. I felt more at peace with the process than I thought I would.
Early last month, I had one of my worst days in a while in terms of anxiety. Everything and anything was making me feel down and anxious. I couldn’t seem to get myself to calm down. Danny grabbed my Jesus Calling book and flipped to the page for that day and practically threw it at me in excitement. It was perfect timing for this devotion. I read it through once, twice, three times….I read it about ten times before it started to sink in and I started to calm down. I felt comforted suddenly. Once again, I knew that God was with me in that moment.
Since that day, I have been feeling much better than I had been. I am continuing to pray regularly, especially when I find that I am feeling overly anxious. I try to be more open with Danny about how I’m feeling and he will pray with me, read the bible with me, talk it out with me, or just sit there with me. Having him there to encourage me helps quite a bit.
I know that God was always with me through this, but I was not open to it until I started to feel a little more secure. I wish I would have acknowledged it sooner, however, I also believe that I needed to go through what I did in order to make the progress that I have been making over the last few months.
Trust is not always easy, especially when you feel overwhelmed and anxious. The thoughts I was having pushed me away from God and my belief that he was helping me. As much as I knew that was true, I couldn’t push past the fear. Now, I trust that He is there and those thoughts are not true. Having faith really can do amazing things if you let it, you just have to push through the fear and fight feelings of impatience.
I will always struggle with anxiety, but I have been learning to cope with it and praying on it has helped so much. I have so much more to learn and experience, but I have faith that I can push through with the love and support of my family and friends, with the help of my doctor, and with my strengthening faith. God has it from here and I am thankful for that.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, please speak to someone. I know how serious it can be and it is important to ask for help when you need it. Speak to friends, family members, church leaders…anyone you feel comfortable going to, please do.
I also encourage you to see a professional for help if you feel that you need to. They are trained to help you through your struggles and guide you through ways you can cope with anxiety/depression.
If you are a person of faith, talk to God. Pray on it, read scripture, and talk with people in your faith community. It may seem difficult at times, but remember that God loves you and is with you always.
Thank you so much for reading!