I thought I would save this topic for a time when I would be free from anxiety once and for all so I could write from a been-there-done-that perspective. Because I was. I was free from all anxiety, extreme stress, oppression, and panic attacks for almost four years.
That’s a story within itself and one that’s been on my heart to share for years now. It involves a conference in San Diego, and finding myself sobbing uncontrollably in a small room in front of several pastors, while they all prayed for this girl. That’s the story I thought I would sit to type and share to sum up the moment I experienced freedom from anxiety. More on that another day because it's worth sharing.
Fast forward a few years later. Life happened, work happened, and an open door in my mind set off one thought and the next. I began to hold myself to a higher standard, became critical of my every move, felt the need to constantly perform, receive approval, feel validated, and the external pressures of it all became insurmountable until I broke. All of this made way for anxiety again – three weeks ago. But three weeks ago was just the pinnacle of a boiling meltdown, waiting for the right, but inconvenient, moment to happen:
On the train.
Right after a 12-hour day.
In the corner seat on the last row.
While I sat next to a stranger.
All the way from DC to the suburbs.
Just like that.
Thank God for his in-ear headphones and my super absorbent cotton dress because he couldn’t hear my cry and at least the dress caught every blob of snot and perhaps a gallon of salty tears. Because, what else is a girl to do without tissues?
In addition to feeling the weight of the world – a phrase I started using with family and friends when they would ask how I was doing – I sat there thinking how I allowed myself to get to that point. I became disappointed with myself for being so weak, for allowing anxiety to creep back into my life. Layer upon layer of anger, resentment, self-pity, and regret took hold of my emotions, thought process, behavior and outlook.
Then I remembered whose I am and what I am. But that wasn’t enough in that precise moment. It wasn't enough to recite Ephesians 6:12, Phillippians 4:6, or Matthew 11:28, because I magnified a series of things in my life and work that are only a speck in the grand scheme of things. Fear and worry began taking me down a spiral. I was already under the weight of anxiety, so I began to think I was in too deep for saving.
That night, I realized my soul was in desperate need of rest and I remembered anxiety wasn’t just the result of exhausting myself thin, it was a spiritual warfare issue I need to begin fighting again. And so the fight continues because I know what anxiety is and what it can do once its manifested in all its glory.
It hurts physically. It’s not a respecter of anyone. It can change your life for the worst, if you allow it. It depletes your mind. It enlarges the smallest of smalls. It re-plays worst-case scenarios in your mind. It feels like you’re walking through a thick cloud of oppression. It weighs heavy on your chest, physically and figuratively. It's crippling. Basically, magnified affliction to the highest degree.
Commands me to cast all my anxieties onto Him.
Promises an ever-present help in all circumstances.
Meets me in my suffering.
Has given me the word to use in defense of anxiety and it's deep roots.
So I have all I need because anxiety isn’t mine to claim. It’s a dart that landed on fertile ground, but I’ve been here before and got through, and so the fight continues.
If you're reading this, and know this feeling all too well, I'd love to hear how you overcame.
Go, on. Let’s get vulnerable together.