“It’s sad actually, because anxiety keeps me from enjoying everything as much as I should at this age.”
I’ve never read a more truer quote. Anxiety keeps you from fully experiencing and enjoying the things you are supposed to in life.
My name is Lindsey, and I was clinically diagnosed with anxiety when I was in the fourth grade. I’m 25. For my entire teenage and adult life I have been fighting with my anxiety about what is real and true and what is not.
From walking away from social settings and over analyzing everything I said or every facial expression I made to worrying about whether or not my church liked and was able to worship to the songs I chose for our service on Sunday morning. It feels never ending. It’s tiring.
Since I’ve been learning how to cope with it since I was 9 years old, I’ve had seasons where my anxiety has been manageable and where I feel like maybe I’ve actually beaten it for good. I’ve also had seasons where it becomes so overwhelming, that I begin to feel like I will never be free of it.
I’m currently in a season where it is extremely overwhelming and I feel like I will never be free of it. This year is my very first year of marriage. I married my sweet husband last December and we had our hopes and dreams of how our first year of marriage would be. The Lord had different plans for us. Our first year of marriage has been very difficult due to internal and external things.
Back in March, my beloved Meme and most favorite human was diagnosed with terminal Brain Cancer. They gave her 36 months. On top of that, I had opportunities to travel and lead worship all over the country; something that I had been praying for for so long.
All of this came at once.
I live 6 hours away from my family, and also the home base of our band until a few weeks ago. This meant I have spent half of my first year of marriage separated from my husband, as well as my home church and my friends in Atlanta. Emotionally I’ve been so drained that my defense against my anxiety has been weakened. Being away from Atlanta so often causes me to have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
Of course when you are on the road, life at home doesn’t just stop. Your friends don’t quit hanging out, your church doesn’t just quit growing, powerful things don’t stop happening, your best friend doesn’t sit at her house anxiously awaiting your return and your dog doesn’t just stare at the door until you get home. Life continues and things happen that you aren’t a part of. I’ve imagined scenarios where my friends forget me or start to not like me anymore because I haven’t been able to spend any quality time with them. The same goes for being away from my family and hometown of St. Augustine, Florida.
I said at the beginning of telling you all of this that I’m in a season where I feel as if I will never be free from this anxiety. There are days that are so bad that I just start crying and beg for Jesus to make me “normal.” I choose to fight my battle as silently as possible because I’m afraid that bits and pieces of my anxiety are going to leak out and cause people to not want to be around me anymore. I’m afraid of scaring people off and losing friends, or people not liking me.
See that common theme: FEAR.
What I want to share with you all is that I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel because I’ve seen it and I’ve lived in it. I still see it no matter how hard it gets.
Anxiety becomes a filter that disturbs the way we see life, the way we think things through and the way we see ourselves.
Anxiety distorts the truth.
I am really thankful for my husband Braden, because he is really good at reminding me of what is true about myself, my life, and my circumstances. Even if they seem silly at times, having someone to talk to is so important.
What I have also found in sharing my experience and my struggle is that I’M NOT ALONE, and NEITHER ARE YOU.
It always surprises me when I get the courage to talk to someone about what is going on because when I do, they are 100% of the time understanding and supportive.
You see, a sense of loneliness is just another one of those distorted truths that anxiety tries to tell us. We convince ourselves that no one wants to hear about our problems, so why bother telling them anyway cause they are just going to judge us?
It’s ok to admit that you don’t have it all together and that you’re struggling.
It doesn’t make you weak or less valuable as a person. We all fight our own battles, and you’re a HUMAN. You aren’t perfect, and life isn’t perfect. It’s ok to need help. Actually, I have found things get better and easier if you ask for it.
You deserve love, you are important, and you are worth it.
So, whatever you are battling, don’t be ashamed or feel like you should be hiding it. I’ve done that all week, and it’s literally gotten me nowhere good. I’ve gotten farther today by talking to my Aunt Jeanie and I’ve gotten farther by being honest and vulnerable.
My encouragement to those fighting this battle, or a similar one, is to bring these dark things out into the light. Don’t keep living in a such a way that causes you to miss out on enjoying life and all the wonderful things that come with living it.
Oh, and don’t forget, YOU are wonderful.