Not long ago I found myself sitting on my kitchen floor in a puddle of tears, unable to catch my breath. However, this was not a new stance for me. This had become an oddly familiar occurrence. Here I was again, the loneliness surrounding me as an overwhelming presence.
I’ve always struggled with anxiety.
I grew up in a Christian home with two loving parents. Caring, kind, successful, lacking one thing… the ability to accept and nurture the importance of mental health. I remember times as a kid, physically shaking with fear and worry. My stomach was constantly upset and my parents chalking it up to just “being scared.”
That is where the prayer bowl began.
Every night I would read my book over worry (yes that is a thing) and I would write my prayers down, place them in a bowl, and let them go away. Easy to do as a kid, once you make them disappear, then poof they are gone. Little did I know though that this was slowly disabling me to feel and process emotions, something I would struggle with later on in life.
No one prepares you for adulthood.
Each life season had been planned out for as long as I could remember. But here I was 24, in a new, big city, not sure of who I was, what I believed, and most importantly what I wanted my life to look like. It’s no surprise that COVID-19 skyrocketed mental health disorders. But they almost doubled for the young adult population in 2020. The anxiety that lacked consoling as a little girl began to creep its way in, this time showing itself more powerful than ever.
I couldn’t breathe.
Over the next year, I found myself in panic attack after panic attack. As a Christian, I was often told to pray… “Cast all your cares on Him.” So, I prayed. I prayed hard. But the more I prayed and the more anxious I felt, the more I begin to doubt God’s love for me. Why me? Why do I feel this way? IF the Lord loves me SO much, why do I continue to struggle to even breathe?
So, I turned my back.
I begin to pour myself into the world around me. I made friends, I went out, drank more than I should, and for a while it felt good. Until it didn’t.
You can’t run from anxiety.
My anxiety became crippling. The things that once became an escape no longer opened the door to not feeling. I used to run miles when I began to feel anxious, but here I was, not even able to walk to the gym without a rush of panic. So I became numb.
A previous note from my phone reads:
“Life feels better when I don’t feel. I shove a smile on my face but what does that mean? My face and heart don’t match. My empty smile disguises the pain, the hurt, the not being enough. How did we get here?”
So, I fought.
I didn’t want to live like this. I knew if I continued on how I was I would lose this fight. And I wanted to fight, I so badly wanted to fight. I begin to be honest with others around me, my therapist finally knew how much I was struggling, but most importantly, I was honest with myself. You can’t escape from a life of pain and letdowns. I knew that much. I just needed to learn how to process the emotions in a way that was pivotal to moving forward.
God did not fail me.
He simply was letting Himself be the one thing I ran to in full confidence in Him and His promises. And man, they are good promises. I know that. On the days where the panic rises and the anxiety rushes in I soak in the promises made to give MY life hope and abundance.
“In this world, you will have troubles, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
So I will continue to lean into Him. I will press on and fight the daily fight. But I can say that I can catch my breath, and today, that is enough.