After nearly thirty years of struggling with irrational fear, fighting to keep the faith and to keep going forward, I have finally named the culprit– it’s anxiety.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time, worrying about a person, an event, etc. but with anxiety it comes down to a debilitating cycle of worry; like the worst carousel in the world– no off switch, no brass ring to reach for, and dizzying speeds almost all the time. For me, my anxiety seems to take over everything.
I worry for my sons while they are in school: are they making the right decisions, are they getting their work turned in on time, are their actions things they will be proud of later or things they will regret? I realize most parents think these things, but for me, these thoughts keep me up at night, wondering all day long and turning me inside out.
I worry about how my actions and inactions will be perceived by others, how will I be able to defend my actions and inactions? I constantly fear people will misunderstand what I do and therefore make rash judgments.
The list goes on and on.
When the anxiety gets really bad I start having facial ticks, a deep desire to run away or never crawl out of bed. At its very worst, it has led to suicidal thoughts. It’s embarrassing to admit that I struggle with this issue. I come from a long line of strong, determined, capable women with a “pioneer spirit” — so why can’t I shake it off and move on?
In my weakest moments, when I have no way out, my heart seems to lurch inside my chest, crying out to God. I hear the verses in my mind that I have known since childhood– “Come to me, all who are weak and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” or the verse from Peter’s epistles, “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” Sometimes it helps, often times it doesn’t.
But I keep reaching for God anyway.
I know that God is bigger than my anxiety and fears. I know that in my head and I pray for my heart to know that, too. I also realize that if it gets beyond my capacity to cope, I can call out for help. Ultimately, I believe I will come through this.
So, I will keep casting my cares, worries, concerns, and fears to God. I know I will take them back from time to time, but my true hope is that each time, I will take back less and less, until someday I can leave it all in His capable hands.
I do not write this for pity, or any “oh, you poor baby” responses. I write this because too many people are broken by fear and anxiety. And too many are trying to find their way out alone. There is no way for someone to find a way out of the pit by themselves. We need someone to come along side and give us a hand up, a shoulder to lean on, and an ear to listen– not a mouth with pat answers and platitudes.
Anxiety unchecked and unmanaged leads quickly to depression. Step up, help someone today. You could actually be helping to save a life.