By the time I was a young adult I was married, had 2 kids, and my anxiety had gone from obsession to guilt and paralyzation.
If you haven't read the beginning of my story, please do that first:
Remember in Part 2 I told you about my obsession with boys, and how I was using it to try to find the answers to the questions my heart was asking, and to fill that empty place in my soul? That started around middle school, but as I got older, it got worse, and I made a lot of decisions I regret.
"Maybe if I give him my body, then he will want the rest of me." Then, maybe, I would get the answers I was looking for. Maybe I would be valuable and enough, and feel better about myself. Maybe the pain and anxiety would go away.
During that time I did a lot of things that I regret, which led to a lot of feelings of guilt later.
The thing about anxiety is it amplifies feelings, and if we don't know how to stop it from doing that, it leads to paralyzation. At least it does for me.
I can't believe I did that. I'm a horrible person. If anyone knew about it, they would hate me. I can never serve God. This totally disqualifies me from everything. I don't deserve to be happy or enjoy life. What if, what if, what if....
This house is a mess. It's too much. I can't clean it. I'll never get it done. It's too hard. I don't know how to clean it. I don't want to. What if I don't get the dish clean enough and someone uses it? What if they get sick? I really should clean it. I'm a horrible mom. I'm a horrible wife. I'm a horrible person...what if someone comes over unexpectedly...then they will know I'm a horrible wife, and mom, and person...what if they decide I shouldn't be a mom because my sink is full of dishes...
These are just a couple of examples of my spiraling thoughts. Thoughts that would leave me paralyzed, obsessing over them. Obsessing over all the things that are wrong with me, and all the ways I am horrible because of the bad things I did, or the good things I didn't do.
This left me barely functioning. Much of my time was spent sitting on the couch obsessing about these things unable to get up and do things, like the dishes. Often times, trying to escape my thoughts on social media, or blogs about how to do better at all the things I felt I was failing at. I eventually did the dishes, when it got to the point where I had to, or someone else would do them for me. And, I would take care of my kids, and even spend time with them, but I wasn't fully there. In my mind, I was in a pit. A dark, shame-filled, scary pit.
I was surviving. I was hiding. I wasn't thriving. I wasn't living.
If you knew me then, I probably seemed functional. My kids were happy and taken care of. I was terrified of something bad happening to them, so I was a super germaphobe, and very over-protective. I had friendships, and saw my family a lot. On the outside everything looked normal (at least I think it did).
But, inside I was dying. The guilt and obsessing over things I did or didn't do would come and go. Sometimes, I wouldn't think about it at all. Then one day I would think of something, and that would lead to an out of control mental spiral, and back to the pit I would go. The rest of the anxiety that I've already talked about, and the panic attacks were still there too.
The thing is even when I was "okay" and not in that pit, it was still affecting me. I couldn't make decisions, even small ones, for fear that I would make the wrong decision and something bad would happen, or someone would get mad at me. Most of my actions and the decisions that I did make, or didn't make (not deciding is deciding) were fueled by a fear of someone getting angry with me, or someone not liking me. Or they were fueled by a fear of someone getting hurt, or something bad happening and it being my fault. Very often, I would get someone else, like my husband or my mom or dad to make the decision for me. "Is it okay if I do this?" "Should I do this, or this?" "How should I handle this?"
Everything was driven by anxiety and fear.
I was paralyzed, until Jesus told me to pick up my mat and walk. In this series about my story, I've shared some of the pain, fear and affects of anxiety in my life. Can you relate? Is fear and anxiety affecting you? Do you feel stuck in the pit, like you will never be able to climb out?
I can't wait to share with you how Jesus is healing me, how He wants to heal you too, and the tools/weapons He has given us for the battle.