I have lived with anxiety every day for as long as I can remember.
The times I’ve been the least busy, anxiety consistently surges in my mind, telling me I don’t measure up, I’m not fulfilling my purpose in the Lord; even forcing me to ask myself, “Can you really afford to rest like this?” In my busiest times, anxiety is ever-present, but in a different way. While I worry I’m not doing enough or I myself am not enough still, I consistently feel strung out and overwhelmed. I feel used by the people around me, under appreciated, and like an egg about to crack. I am fragile, afraid, and petrified of the unknown. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I’m hanging on by a thread. Anxiety rarely leaves me alone. What if’s and worries filter in and out of my mind on a constant feedback loop. It leaves me so, so tired.
This past year, another attacker has advanced on my mind, that being depression. When the sinking hopeless feeling set in, more on some days than others, I really didn’t know what was going on. I was just SAD. And the weirdest part was… I couldn’t even pinpoint what I was sad about. Just sad. It wasn’t until talking with people in my life who struggle with depression that I realized the state of my own. Some days the cloud of depression is very far away, almost making me forget it’s there. Other days, it looms over and pours. I am barely able to brave the storm.
For a long time, I believed that my struggle with anxiety was all due to me and my sin. People who know Jesus are supposed to trust Him and have a spirit of peace! Does that mean I don’t know Jesus the way I think I do?
With depression I’ve felt the same. I am supposed to have joy that comes from Him. I am supposed to be thankful and rejoice! Some days I don’t feel like rejoicing. The war in my mind hurts too much.
Why do you allow this, God? Take my pain away!
You don’t know how many times I’ve prayed that prayer.
Something I’ve come to know as true is that God doesn’t promise to answer our prayers or fix our problems the way we would choose Him to. He promises to be our strength, shield, protector, and peace in the midst of any storm. Before, during, and after. David in the Psalms has deeply held my heart in the way he battles anxiety and depression, too.
Fighting anxiety and depression has made me LONG for eternity with Jesus, where I will never have to weather their attacks again. Forever is so sweet in Him. I was not intended to live with this broken body forever. There is more for me coming. My future hope gives me hope for today.
Why should my personal business and struggles matter to you? Why am I even sharing this on the internet? Because so many people in this world are in pain, and need someone to hear them.
The only reason I’ve learned that you don’t know the treacherous war being waged in someone’s mind is because I’ve been that someone for a long time. Mental health issues can go unseen easily, but are still painful. And exhausting.
My own struggle with mental health has taught me to be kind. You never know what someone is going to battle against that day, or every day they live.
See people. Listen. They deserve to be heard, and held, and loved. Love someone long enough to care, to ask, to comfort. Life is busy, but it’s no excuse.
Most recently, though, my battle with mental illness has taught me that taking healing and restoration seriously is how my anxiety and depression will dwindle down. Upping a dose of Prozac doesn’t promise true healing. Yes, medicine for some to alleviate the difficulty of mental illness is necessary. But it is absolutely not a cure. I thought it was for a long time, and have to step back when I start to think that again. When I started reading “My name is Hope”, it forced me to stop and actually make the decision to get to the ROOT of my anxiety and depression. Every mental illness, whether you are prone to them more than others because of chemical imbalance or not, has a root cause. I am still trying to figure out mine. It hurts to really dig deep and acknowledge the deep sin underlying the tendencies present because of mental illness, but it is absolutely necessary. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s NOT okay to stay there. If I’m being honest, some days I just want to wallow in it. To blame mental illness. To blame my body that exists in the midst of a broken world needing to be redeemed by a Savior. All those things play a factor, but there is more to it. The days where I have decided to be okay with my anxiety or depression, or just say “it’s the way that I am” are the days I have dug my own grave. Through Christ, I legitimately have the power to be transformed and edified. To stay stuck is an insult to my Creator.
All this to say, I am far from perfect. I am not even close to having it all figured out. I still have really bad days. But, I was made for more, and so are you.