I’ve had anxiety problems for years.
My anxiety problems have raged to the point I’ve had to seek medical help in the past. In one very dark time in my life I was on multiple medications with a medical diagnosis of PTSD, Anxiety Disorder, and Bipolar II disorder.
In addition to this, I’ve also struggled with being a “perfectionist“. Finding my self worth in my “perfectionism“. Setting for myself unrealistic expectations and then pushing myself to the point of a nervous breakdown trying to uphold them.
I say all this so one may understand what angle I’m coming from as I try to organize the many thoughts that have been rambling in my head the last 48 hours.
To attempt to grasp the severity of how my anxiety has effected my life, let me share just a few examples of what used to be “normal” to me:
- Driving in the car, thinking about someone I love dying (husband, son, step-daughter, etc.) to the point that I am sobbing, crying uncontrollably and being so caught up in those fears that I lose myself in them completely, to the point that I’m talking out loud, to myself, in the car, as if I’m really in “that moment” of loss.
- Laying in bed at night, trying to sleep. I start thinking about something that happened earlier in the day, then think about what “could” have happened, then think about my past, painful, hurtful moments in my past. I toss and turn and toss and turn, finally having to physically get out of bed or splash water on my face to try and break the thoughts.
- The thought of going into a crowd of people, or meeting a crowd of new people, sends my heart racing. Racing to the point that it fills my chest and my ears and then I find myself worrying about my heart and wondering if I’m about to have a heart attack.
- I’ve had panic attacks just sitting on the couch, when my thoughts have ran away from me.
- I love going home to visit, however, typically the entire day before, and during the drive down, all I can visualize in my head is my entire family dying in a fiery car crash. So I usually become nearly obnoxious in trying to be “funny” and talk and do anything I can to attempt to distract myself from the visions playing in my head.
- I want to someday go to a tropical island, however the thought of riding in a plane that far speeds my heart right up. I see it crashing. I see death. The few plane rides I have taken, again, I spend it looking out the window, feeling sick to my stomach and willing myself to not throw up because I’m afraid of the impending plane crash I just know is coming.
- Every time I go to get on a roller coaster, or any other type of ride, even though I love them on the one hand, on the other, as I wait in line, I see it running off the track. I see something breaking and myself and those I love falling to our deaths.
- Listening to my son dream about his future, talking about joining the military someday, or being a missionary and traveling the world, I feel my breath quicken and I immediately jump to worrying about his death and how he will die.
- I have avoided going to places altogether, because of the gripping fear of going there “alone”. Of not knowing anyone. I have avoided involving my son in extra curricular activities because of the fear, the anxiety, of having to take him to and from. There have been times that when my husband and I would go to pick my son up from our church youth group, I would all but beg to stay in the car because I simply did not want to walk into the building. For reasons I don’t even know anxiety would fill up my heart. There have been many times I have lashed out at my husband when we have gone places because I simply did not want to get out of the car.
- The first time I went skiing with my husband, as we got closer to the mountain, I could feel my heart start to race. Fear seemed to grip me. I don’t even remember what I was afraid of. It was just, happening. I not only got snippy with my husband, however, immediately after being snippy, I cried.
- Every new freckle is cancer. Every head ache is a possible aneurysm. Every bug bite is a deadly disease. I say it as thought I’m joking about it, however, the truth, the brutal cold truth, is those are my true first thoughts.
For the most part I have hidden this side of me fairly well. I used to think the best way to confront my anxiety was simply to force myself to do things. So while there were many times I did not do and avoided altogether, there are many times I’ve forced myself to do things with anxiety eating away at my insides.
I now see the danger in this.
I’ve learned how to fake a smile like a pro in public.
I’ve learned how to fake a laugh like a pro.
I’ve learned how to pretend, to not be authentic, to lie on some very deep personal level to myself and those around me.
In other words, I did not address the anxiety problem.
I was simply covering it up even more. Burying my secret even deeper, allowing it to gnaw away at my insides in ways I cannot explain.
And who took the brunt force of that pain, frustration, fear, anger, and sadness that the gnawing left exposed and raw and hurting? My husband. At times, my son. At times, my step-daughter. Mostly, my husband.
Oh the realization of that, the complete honesty of really “saying it” out loud brings tears to my eyes.
I became a homemaker in July. It was something my family needed desperately, however, I had no idea just how much I may have needed it on a personal level. What it has allowed me to see, is the extent of my anxiety. The brutal truth of how devastating my fears and anxiety have been. The brutal truth how unreal I was being with myself. The brutal truth of how much stress, worry, fear, and anxiety I was filling up my mind, my heart, and my soul with.
Slowly, over the course of summer, I found some peace in serving my family. I found more time to talk with my son, with my husband. More time for us to be relaxed without worrying about the never ending to-do list. Blessings. Then I found more time to read. To study. To be discipled. To pray. More blessings.
Then I realized I wasn’t thinking about death every day. I had days, whole, entire days, where I didn’t think about death. I had whole, entire days, where my heart was not consumed with fear.
And that thought, immediately, put fear into me. I was having anxiety about not having anxiety.
More prayer. More reading. More studying. More blessings.
Which brings us to today.
The two books I’m currently reading, both hit me in the last 48 hours with a message I felt the Lord was delivering to me. I felt as though He was holding my hand and saying, “My daughter, it is time for you to come to me, and let me heal your fears, let me take your anxiety, let me transform what you’ve known, and give you my peace.”
In other words, it’s time to let go of the bondage of anxiety.
Out of “Humility: True Greatness“, I read the following on Tuesday:
“Where there’s worry, where there’s anxiousness, pride is at the root of it. When I am experiencing anxiety, the root issue is that I’m trying to be self-sufficient. I’m acting independent of God.”
“The issue isn’t God. It’s my pride that resists trusting in Him through depending upon Him.”
“Sin – including especially the sin of pride – is active, not passive. Sin doesn’t wake up tired, because it hasn’t been sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, sin is right there, fully awake, ready to attack. So rather than be attacked by sin in the morning, I’ve chosen to go on the offensive. I’ve chosen to announce to sin, “I’m at war with you. I know you’re there, and I’m after you.” From the moment I awake, I’ve learned to make statements to God about my dependence upon God, and in this way I’m humbling myself before God.
“All the cares coming my way are actually provided by God specifically for the purpose of cultivating humility in my life.”
Out of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World“, I read the following yesterday/this morning:
“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry, it isn’t a suggestion. It’s a command. Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament along as something we should avoid.”
“If my God isn’t bigger than life, then my life is bigger than God – and that’s when anxiety takes over.”
“What we put in our minds affects our hearts. And out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths speak.”
“We cannot underestimate the effect of what we think about. The war of worry, as well as the trial of temptation, is won and lost on the battlefield of our minds.”
“Will we pray? Or will we worry? We really can’t do both.”
The Bible Verses Brought to my attention in the last two days are:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may life you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:6-7
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11: 28-30
“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way that are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” ~Luke 8:14
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 9:5
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
The thoughts that have been planted as seeds in my mind, and today, are beginning to take root:
need must acknowledge that I need God. The amount of “respect” the world has placed on self-sufficiency is simply the worlds view. It is simply pride trying to hide in yet another facet of my life. God calls us to come before Him with a humble heart. He hates pride. Because with pride, we don’t need Him. We don’t want Him. With self-sufficiency, we look inward instead of Godward. Instead of Christward. I’m tired of being self-sufficient. I’m tired of being prideful.
need must acknowledge that Jesus paid my ransom. He paid a price that was because of me. He suffered a death, a death that was not because of His sins, because He is sinless. It was because of mine. I must humble myself at His cross, to truly accept what He has done for me, to go to Him for my needs.
need must pray about ALL things. I must capture these thoughts that have been binding me for years, and give them to God. I must cast my cares on Him, and take His yoke. I will have trials. I will have problems that I am faced with. God has told me that again and again in His word. Yet my trials, will draw me nearer to Him. My trials will grow my spirit in Him. My trials will grow my love in Him, that I may better reflect His love to my husband, my children, the world.
need must be active about this. I cannot sit idly by. Satan will attack me. Again and again and again. As I lay down, as I first wake up, those last thoughts, those first thoughts, Satan will do whatever he can to attempt to capture those thoughts so that my mind falls into the trap of fear, worry, and anxiety. I must actively pray. I must actively humble myself before my all powerful, all loving, all amazing, all great, all able-to-transform-me-and-free-me-from-this-prison-of -anxiety God. To be faithful. To trust Him, completely, to trust Him with my worries, my fears, my problems. To trust Him who always has my best interest at heart. To trust Him who always only wants the best for me because of His perfect love for me.
I feel like I’ve heard the Lord’s message to me. I feel like I’m finally reaching up, to take His hand, bow my head, admit, confess, and repent of my pride, and start following.
My plan: To wake up every day, and acknowledge my need for Him first thing every morning. To acknowledge my need for Him as I lay down every night to sleep. Throughout the day, as soon as a thought of fear, worry, or anxiety comes to fill my mind, I will capture that thought and pray. I will cast it upon Him, so that I may be free to instead take His yoke. I know that there are some thoughts that are so deeply ingrained that I may give them to Him, and then attempt to take them back again. I will just keep giving them to Him, over and over, actively fighting against allowing those thoughts to fill my heart. Because I know, deep down, He is truly my only way to freedom.
In closing of my rambling spiderweb of thoughts here, I’ll share this. I created this fairly quickly yesterday after reading Chapter five in “Humility: True Greatness“. I put it in a frame, and hung it up in our bathroom. Why the bathroom? Because this is the first room we go into after we wake up, and last room we go into before going to bed. Simply as a reminder to me, first and last thing every day, and throughout the day.
For anyone else out there who suffers from anxiety, fear, stress, and worry, my prayer for us all is that we will be able to put our faith in our Lord and Savior, because He can handle it, He wants to handle it, that we may be free in Him and filled with His peace.
In Love & Faith,