Anxious, Depressed, but Never Alone
The first time I dealt with anxiety I was 16 years old. It was a sudden and raging sense of fear, loss of control, and being overwhelmed, that sent me into a downwards spiral of anxiety and depression. I had never dealt with anxiety like this before, or knew anyone else who had either which made me feel very lonely.
I had begun to deal with a severe physical illness about a month prior to my first anxiety attack. Doctors could not figure out what was causing the physical illness for 9 months. Those were the longest 9 months of complete fear and worry about my physical well-being. My mental illness was induced by my physical illness; however, even when the physical illness got better, the mental illness remained like a thorn in my mind that wouldn’t go away. Now, three years later, I still struggle daily with anxiety and hope that my story will be able to help you. Know that if you’re struggling, you are not alone.
Anxiety can take on different forms for everyone, but for me, it is very physically crippling. Whenever I become anxious, it’s like my whole body freezes. I can’t breathe just like there is an elephant sitting on my chest. If you’re the same way, then you know all too well just how terrible of a feeling it is. My mind will race with unstoppable irrational thoughts. No matter how hard you try, sometimes it feels like you just can’t stop the beast that anxiety is.
When all of those struggles began to occur, I became anxious about my anxiety. If that isn’t the definition of anxiety, then I don’t know what is. I became depressed because I did not understand what was going on with my mind, or body. I didn’t know anyone else who felt like this. I was convinced that I was the only one which left me feeling left out, lonely, and less than who I really was. I talked to my family about it, which was great, and they tried to be as helpful as possible. However, until you’ve walked the waters of anxiety and/or depression you can’t fully understand it.
It’s all consuming.
But, it doesn’t have to be and you can have a way out. ILL apparel’s slogan is so true –
“illness means there is a chance for wellness.”
Wellness is a journey but it starts with admitting your illness. It took me a long time to admit that I was struggling with anxiety or depression because of pride. I didn’t want to be the one struggling. In the Christian community a lot of times anxiety and depression are looked down upon. You are told to hide it and suppress it; that you shouldn’t struggle with it because you have Jesus. News flash: Christians struggling with anxiety and depression just like they struggle in tons of other areas as well. Thank goodness though, that Jesus died for those struggles just like he died for all other struggles.
Because of Jesus, I am not defined by my anxiety and depression. That is not who I am. Every single day when I get up, I have to choose to not be a slave to the anxiety and depression but instead accept the realization that I struggle with it, and choose the freedom from those chains that I have in Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 1, we see that God is a God of all comfort. When I am anxious, He wants to comfort me. When I am struggling with depression, He wants to comfort me.
Another thing I have to do is choose joy every single day. Y’all, that is hard. When you’re anxious or depressed, joy is the very last emotion that you feel.
Sometimes it seems like joy is in a faraway land that doesn’t exist.
However, joy is a choice. Psalm 16:11 tells us that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy. It’s a daily thing for me. I have to choose it first thing in the morning, despite my feelings of anxiety or depression.
I quickly came to the realization that my anxiety would not just disappear. It was something that I had to live with and figure out how to continue daily life, which at the time seemed impossible. After a while of trying to live with anxiety I began to figure out ways to make do. For me, this looked like always having an escape route from whatever event I was at, or having someone with me that knew I was struggling with anxiety when I went to events. Sometimes coping with the anxiety looked like taking some deep breaths and remembering that I could breathe and that I was going to be okay. Often times it looked like having to leave the event I was at because I just couldn’t handle it that day. Whatever it looks like for you, that is okay. We all have different ways of trying to live with our anxiety or depression and it is not going to look the same for everyone. If you’re just starting out with this struggle, it may take some time for you to figure out how to live with it and that is okay. I have lived with it now for 3 years and I still struggle to live with it sometimes. We all have different stories, different problems, and different ways of living with our anxiety and depression and that’s okay.
The last main thing that I have done and continue to do to help me in my journey with anxiety and depression is find a community of people to talk about it with.
Start sharing your story and connecting with people that have walked through the same thing. You are not alone in your anxiety or depression and other people want to connect with you just as bad as you want to connect with them. I know that is hard. Whenever I am anxious or depressed, I have a tendency to hide. I want to be alone and avoid the world because seeing a world that doesn’t seem to feel as bad as you do is tough. However, you need that community. Talking about your anxiety and depression is the pathway to healing from it.
I promise you’re not alone, so join the conversation.
- Karlee Moore