Why? Why is it that so many struggle in silence?
Why do so many men and women...even children, feel they can't express that they battle this issue? Do they not know that the more they hide it and try to deal with it alone, the worse it will become?
I am one of those people, and I didn't know. I didn't know what hiding my anxiety could do to me mentally and physically. You want me to tell you why I hid my struggle of anxiety and kept it a secret?
Fear...I was afraid of what my church would think of me. I was afraid of what my friends and family would think of me. I was afraid I would loose the most important people in my life because of this struggle.
In my head, only "crazy" people had this problem. Only people who didn't have it "all together" dealt with so called anxiety. You see, the truth is, I didn't really think this was a thing until I fell into my own battle. I was one of those non-compassionate people in the church. I was one of those people that said hurtful things to those who had this struggle.
I secretly dealt with anxiety because I knew how I treated others...I knew I would be treated the same way.
But you know what? I finally stopped hiding. I had to because I could no longer push it down anymore. I got to the point where I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move, I couldn't think...I honestly couldn't live. It was awful and exhausting. If you have ever been through an anxiety attack, you know exactly what I am talking about.
I began to talk about my secret struggle with anxiety. As I began to share, its like people relaxed around me and said, "You too?"...yes me too...
I will be honest with you and tell you that I still have anxiety attacks. They do not come as often and they are not as severe. Once I stopped hiding behind this secret and got help, my life began to change.
Maybe you are reading this and you are ready to get help. That is awesome! I wanted to share with you a few things that helped me:
1. I spoke with my doctor. She talked with me and began to help me to see that the anxiety, (and the depression I also was dealing with which I will be writing more about later) was a real medical issue. She helped me to see that if I was suffering from asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or any other health related issue, I would get on medication or whatever I needed to do to better my health. After hearing that, I got on medication.
2. I began to see a counselor. God put a wonderful counselor in my life in a really cool way that only He could do. She listened to me. She didn't judge me. She let me cry and feel every emotion that I needed to feel. She gave me an open door to find the healing that I needed to find with issues I had pushed down for many years.
3. I started journaling. So what is that? Well, I went and bought a cheap notebook and a pretty notebook. In the cheap notebook, I would write down those anxious thoughts that were coming in my head as fast as they were coming. Some of them were ugly and scary. I would read them out loud and realize they were not real and it was not true. In my pretty notebook, I would write down Bible verses that would speak directly to the situations that I had anxiety about. I did that to change my thoughts. I wanted to start speaking life and hope and not fear which is what anxiety wants you to do. I didn't always believe those scriptures in those moments, but I knew God's Word was true. I had to ask God to help my unbelief many times, and He did.
4. I started talking about it and helping others. I know that feels opposite of what you want to do in those moments, but its the right thing to do. When you begin to share your story, it changes the narrative on anxiety. It changes the thought process of who struggles with it, what it looks like, and what it can do to your body. When you start helping others, it stops you from looking so far inward into that dark place and you begin to look outward and see you aren't alone and those around you struggling need hope too! As you start helping others, it may feel like baby steps, but I promise you something in you will begin to shift and peace comes in...you can breathe deeper.
5. The most important thing I did, I did turn to my faith in Jesus Christ. He reminded me that He had not left me or forsaken me. He reminded me that I was worth the help that I needed to get. That He had put these gifts and talents in all these people that helped me. He loved me through it and reminded me that He had created me for a purpose and for an abundant life. My faith kept hope alive inside me...at times, it was only a glimmer of hope but that glimmer of hope is greater than any darkness that is out there.
Don't struggle in secret anymore friend. Get help. Remember that you are worth it! You don't have to live in that miserable hole alone anymore. Once you start sharing and talking about it, I can promise you that you will also have those "you too/me too" moments.
On our PurposeFULL Woman Podcast earlier this week, we answered questions about anxiety that you may have and also talked about how you can began the process of walking out of that dark place. I am posting the link below.
We will do this together guys! It's time we no longer sit in silence with our secret struggle of anxiety. It is time we change the narrative on it and began to help each other by simply helping each other.