I’ve suffered with varying degrees of anxiety for as long as I can remember. I don’t really understand why, except to say that I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist and have a deep desire to please others. I have never been medicated for my anxiety, although I’m certain there have been periods in my life where medication would help me greatly. I can remember having anxiety attacks in my early 20’s and feeling like the world was literally spinning out of control. One instance was in Disneyland. I remember sitting down on the ground in the middle of Disney’s California Adventure with my best friend at the time and crying because of the overwhelmed panic I felt.
When I became a Christian when I was 16, I knew that my anxiety was sinful and wrong and that I shouldn’t be feeling this way constantly. I knew that it was wrong to need to control every situation and feel nervous when I couldn’t. I KNEW that God had a better plan for me than to live in a constant state of worry and anxiousness, but I didn’t know how to handle my anxiety. It was my secret sin. I did a fairly good job of hiding that I was a nervous wreck a good chunk of the time.
When my husband met me, I really did my best to forget that awful thing called anxiety. I had endured a bad relationship and breakup and felt so free. I thought that the anxiety had come with that previous relationship, so for about a year and a half, that anxiety took a back-burner in my life. Boy, was that a freeing experience! But, I had still had control. I had 100% control of every thing in my life, or so I thought. Enter marriage and quickly after, a tough pregnancy. Marriage will do a great job at refining you and pointing out your sin.
I was suddenly out of control. I became a wreck. I did a fairly decent job masking it for a very long time. I was always either laughing or crying (most thought it was due to pregnancy), and usually the laughter came from being nervous in social situations. It slowly started spiraling out of control. I felt jittery all the time and was constantly wondering whether or not I was being accepted in whatever circle I was in. It got really bad, and then worse with the postpartum depression. Every day was a struggle to get through the day without an anxiety attack. My husband knew that I was suffering with this horrible anxiety and would constantly tell me to “just stop.” I wish it had been so easy.
It was towards the end of last year (2013) that I really decided that I was sick of allowing my anxious thoughts to overwhelm my mind 24/7. I had started feeling more like myself after having Baby J, and now I wanted the anxiety to disappear as well. My marriage had suffered from it due to the fact that I was constantly worrying about my husband and what he was doing, where he was, and who he was with and whether or not he was “outing me,” and telling others horrible things about me. I didn’t have many friends because the anxiety kept me from opening up and feeling vulnerable to anyone due to the worry that they’d leave me or decide I wasn’t worth being friends with. It overwhelmed my life.
It was at that point that I KNEW a change had to happen. I had been in counseling, but even there, I didn’t open up 100%, so she didn’t know about my secret sin, my anxiety. So, I began journaling. A lot. I began to open up God’s Word. I began to start each morning with prayer and asking for His help. Whenever I’d feel anxious throughout the day, I would pray. I would read Scripture. I would focus on God. If I felt out of control, I’d ask for the One who has control to guide me. I became very very close to the Lord. I started to be thankful for the blessings in my life. And wouldn’t you know it… the anxiety started to disappear. I didn’t have to have control because I put my trust in the One who does. It literally felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
I woke up the week of Thanksgiving and told Mr. Wonderful that I felt “normal.” I told him that I wasn’t concerned about my life anymore. I told him that I felt healed. I woke up smiling and thanking God that He had been with me through that very tough season. To be honest, we’ve encountered a couple of rough situations since Thanksgiving, but through each one, I didn’t feel anxiety like I used to. I have known that God is in control. It has been incredible. I had always heard stories of God redeeming us. I just thought maybe He had a plan for my anxiety. His plan for my anxiety was to teach me to turn to Him with all of my problems. I haven’t had an anxiety attack or meltdown since October of last year. It’s only been a few months, but when I’ve had them multiple times a week for almost 10 years, it’s been refreshing to not have one for a few months.
As I entered 2014, the theme that I am going to hold fast to is “choose joy.” I want to continue to pursue a relationship with the Lord and continue to have power over the anxiety. I will choose joy each and every day. I’ve learned that God will redeem ALL things in His impeccable timing. I know that He is Good. I know that He is in control. I know that He loves me and will carry me through everything. It’s a nice feeling to not feel burdened by this anymore. God redeems. He even managed to redeem me from anxiety.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6: 25-34