My Journey Through Anxiety

I’ve been a little nervous about writing this post. I’ve been wanting to write this for a while, but my nerves got the best of me. I’ve procrastinated SO much and I’ve been heavily convicted because I haven’t been obedient in releasing this.

I want to define what anxiety and fear are because there is a difference. We often use them interchangeably. According to Merriam-Webster, anxiety is defined as apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over something to come. Fear, on the other hand, is to be afraid of something. This could be because you feel threatened.

A few weeks ago, I attended a two-day conference catering to my high school girls at church. I co-lead a life-group of 11th graders. The leader of the conference asked me to share my experience about suffering from anxiety. Whew! I immediately had that anxious feeling. I mean, having to talk about my experience battling anxiety literally gave me anxiety at that point. “I know you can do it. Pray through it,” she assured me.

I was forced to sit and think through my journey. I vividly remember going through my teenage years as a serious perfectionist. I studied hard. I earned all As. If something proved hard for me, I would seriously stress out. I don’t exactly know where this spirit of anxiety came from, but boy, it is rough. While my peers seemed to be living a carefree life, I was thinking about my future. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with this, until the future I wanted started consuming me. I had a plan for my life: what I wanted to do when I grew up, where I wanted to attend college, the age I wanted to be married and have kids, etc. When I saw that these things were happening as I planned for them to, I stressed out. My face would break out, I’d get migranes, I’d feel sick.

It took me years to realize exactly what I was going through. My family would always say “there’s always something wrong with you. You need to stop being so hard on yourself and go with the flow. Suck it up and do what you have to do…” This proved to be easier said than done. I literally couldn’t turn it off. I was the oldest child and I felt like I had to prove myself. There were unfortunately several people in my family who thought I would fail (for several reasons…for a later post). I worked hard to prove myself and my abilities to everyone. I believe this made my anxiety increasingly worse. College came and my anxiety showed out. I thought I had somehow grown out of this cycle, but it only worsened.

Late last year, I ended up having two anxiety attacks within two days of each other at work. Man. I felt like I was dying. I literally couldn’t breathe! My heart rate was extremely high which is very unusual for me. That’s when it hit me. I knew something had to change. I could no longer live in a constant state of anxiety about what was to come. As much as I thought I was in complete control of everything, I just wasn’t.

As a Christian, I’ve devoted myself to following Christ. I had to go back to this truth and remember that I’ve decided to trust Him with every decision of my life. Below are some practical tips for what I’ve done and what I’m currently doing as I battle anxiety:

·  Remember Who I serve. When you become a Christian, you aren’t promised a perfect life; however, you are promised the Holy Spirit who walks with you every moment. ASK Him to help you and lead you. Then,

·  Don’t be afraid to see professional help. I’ve learned that this is a BIG misconception, especially in the Black community. We don’t think seeking professional help is necessary. I cannot reiterate this enough; SEEK HELP. You have nothing to lose.  Don’t miss this step.

·   Know that you’re not in this alone. There are many people who struggle from anxiety. It really does help to talk out what you’re going through. You’re able to help someone else while simultaneously walking through your struggle.

·  Take care of yourself. I’ve learned to do this recently. Take off work if you need to. Turn off the phone. Take a few hours of solitude. No one will take care of you like YOU will take care of you.

I pray this blessed you. I am still walking through my own journey, but the difference is I have relinquished a lot of control over my life. I am able to help others around me who battle anxiety and need HOPE. I trust the process.

Let me know if you do/did battle anxiety and what you’ve done or what you are doing to walk through it.