Anxiety

I Don't Remember Not Having Anxiety - My Anxiety Story: Part 1

"No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?"

"Right"

"I love you"

"I love you too"

"Good Night"

"Good Night"

"No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?"

"Right"

"I love you"

"I love you too"

"Good Night"

"Good Night"

"No thunderstorms..."

This was the routine repeated over and over again during my childhood bedtime. I would continue to repeat the cycle as Mom or Dad walked out of the room, down the hallway, down the stairs (depending on whose house I was at that night), and out of range.

Thunderstorms, bad dreams, and doctor shows were my biggest fears. I was terrified of doctors because of a traumatic hospitilization for Cellulitus when I was 3 years old, and was, therefore, also terrified of doctor shows.

So, at some point I apparently decided that saying "No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?" and having my mom or dad assure me with the word "right" meant that those things would not exist that night.

Totally logical right?... No? Well, that's how anxiety works.

This in and of itself is enough to show there was anxiety brewing in that little mind and heart of mine, but the repetition of it is much more telling.

Why did I need to repeat it over and over again?

Because I could never decide which was the most important part to say last. If I didn't say "I love you" last, and I died, or they died then "I love you" wouldn't have been our last words to each other. If I didn't say "No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?" last then mabye it wouldn't be true for that night. So it became part of the bed time routine and one of the first coping mechanisms I had.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (basically anxious about all the things, all the time disorder) and panic attacks. I was diagnosed in high school when the panic attacks started, but I do not remember a time in my life prior to that when I wasn't anxious about something.

Fear and anxiety were a big part of my life. They dominated my emotions, and controlled many aspects of my life and my decisions, especially as I got older. But that'll be for Part 2.

The biggest thing that I remember about my anxiety as a child, is that the things I would worry about were so far removed from what I should have been concerned about at that age.

I remember once making my dad prove to me that the smoke alarm worked because I was afraid the house would catch on fire.

I remember being really scared when I went to bed and my dad was in the rec-room in the basement. My bedroom was on the 2nd floor, and the front door was right by the stairs. So that meant that if an intruder came in to get me, he would be entering between where I was and where Dad was. They could get to me to hurt me before Dad would be able to get to me to protect me.

Of course, Dad would have been up those stairs and tackling the "bad guy" long before he could get to me, but my anxious heart didn't know that. And I didn't let my parents know just how anxious my heart was.

I wish I would have told them more about my anxiety sooner. First of all, then they could have gotten me help sooner. But also because I'm learning that talking about it helps. When we keep the monsters in our heads hidden in the darkness, they can only grow. But when we bring them into the light by talking about them, they start to shrink and eventually die.

I had fears, worries, and anxieties as a child, more than probably most kids, but as I got older the anxiety monster got bigger and more intense. Anxiety began to manifest as obsessions late in middle school. 9/11 happened during high school, and that triggered the start of full blown panic attacks.

It got a lot worse before it got better. But it is better. So much better. I still have it, but it doesn't control me anymore. God is healing me, and showing me tools to help me fight the anxiety battle and win. I have peace now a lot of the time, and when the fear comes it's not as intense, doesn't last as long, and isn't paralyzing.

It is my hope that through this series, and some free resources I am working on, you too will be able to find healing, hope, and freedom in the One who offers it to you.

Anxiety Is A Battle, But Not Against Yourself

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a psychiatrist, nor a psychologist. I am a person with diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder (which basically means anxious about everything all the time), and panic attacks. By the grace of God, He is healing me, and I endeavor to share my journey with you, and what I am learning in hopes that it will help you too.

But let me make very clear what I am not saying in this or anything I write: I am NOT saying that if you suffer anxiety you don’t have enough faith. I have heard that before and it is a big fat lie. I am NOT saying that you should not seek professional help, and/or take medication if you need it. Anxiety is a real disease with real symptoms and real medical treatment available. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting that treatment. I have also learned that there is another element to anxiety, and that is a spiritual element. That is the area which I wish to discuss, with no intention of minimizing medical treatment or therapy.

If you have anxiety in any form, whether it’s been diagnosed or not, you are in a battle. You may be in a season where it is a daily battle, an hourly battle, or even a constant battle.

I know the battle all too well. I still have to fight it. I’m fighting right now in fact because a funny thing happens when I try to write about anxiety. My anxiety kicks up.

The battle I am fighting now, is much less intense than the battles I fought for most of my life. There was a time where I could not even function. I would sit on the couch for most of the day trying to distract myself on social media or watching TV, but not getting anything productive done. I was paralyzed. There was about a year of my life where I couldn’t even drive on the highway because I would get massive panic attacks and have to pull over or I would die. At least it felt like I would die. That’s what panic does.

Today, I still have anxiety, and I still get panic attacks. I’m still in the battle, but it doesn’t control me anymore. It’s not anywhere near as intense. I am healing from it. I often have joy instead of fear. I am living my life and it is wonderful.

I want you to have that too. So I am endeavoring to write a series of posts, as well as some free resources to share with you how I am healing, Who is healing me, and how you can have it too.

We need to start by acknowledging the battle, and figuring out who the enemy is.

You Are Not Your Enemy

Has anyone ever told you that you are your own worst enemy? I’ve been told that, and I believed it for a long time.

It’s. Not. True.

You are not your enemy.

Does it feel like it sometimes? Sure. Does it feel like you are fighting an internal battle against yourself? Absolutely.

You are in a battle. A very serious battle. And you do have an enemy. But it’s not yourself. I wrote about him in this post, and why he hates us so much. If you missed it please check it out.

Knowing Who You're Fighting

The thing about Satan is that he despises us because he despises God, and we are made in the image of God. His mission every day is to destroy us. Of course, he wants our souls, but once we are in Christ, he can’t have them. So then he turns to distracting and discouraging us. He does not want us to know who we are in Christ. Because, when we do, we will start living out our purpose, and that scares him.

Let me pause here for a moment and speak to those of you reading this who do not believe. Maybe you don’t believe in God, or Jesus. Maybe you don’t believe in Satan, or that he could have a plan to destroy you. I understand, and I am so glad you are here. I would invite you to not dismiss everything, but to stick around and see if there is any merit to anything I have to share. If you have questions or want to have a discussion about what you believe and/or what I believe I would love to talk to you. No judgement, just conversation. I would also like to submit for your consideration that the biggest lie Satan ever told is that he doesn’t exist. If he can convince you that he doesn’t exist, it becomes much easier to destroy you.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief is Satan. He has a mission. To steal from us. To kill us. To destroy us.

But what does this have to do with anxiety. He uses it to steal from us. He steals our joy, our purpose, our hope. He uses it to kill pieces of us, and ultimately to try to destroy us.

Satan is a liar. In fact Jesus tells us Satan is the father of lies. “...He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

The anxious thoughts never come from God. NEVER. In fact God tells us over and over in the Bible not to be afraid. He cannot contradict Himself, so fear does not come from Him. It comes from Satan. And Satan wants us to believe the anxious thoughts are our own. He wants us to believe that we are our own enemy.

I recently read that when he lies to us he puts it in “I statements.” “I am so stupid.” “I can’t believe I did that.” He does this because if we believe they are our own thoughts, we will be more likely to believe them. If we believe the lies, it becomes easier to destroy us.

Maybe the things I am telling you are scary to hear. I know they can be scary to me too, especially when I first started to learn about this spiritual battle that we are all in. I do not mean to add to your fear. If we are going to battle our anxiety, we need to know who and what we are fighting.

A Warrior Fighting For You

There is good news. Such good news. Now that we know who the enemy is, we can prepare ourselves for the battle, and we can win. It’s important to know too, that we are not in this battle alone. Jesus is fighting for us, and He is so much bigger and more powerful than Satan. We also know that in the end He will defeat Satan and fear, sadness, tears and pain for good. (Revelation 21:4)

Not only that, but He is fighting for us now. Notice the 2nd half of John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus wants you to have a full life. And He has the power to give it to you. He wants to heal you.

He is healing me, and in the process showing me so many truths about Him, about myself, and about how to win the battle against anxiety. It is my heart, that by sharing my experiences and what I am learning, you will begin to heal and win the battle in your life as well.

As I said, I am working on a series of posts to share what I am learning. Soon I will share with you 4 of the ways that I have learned to stop the anxious thoughts that consume my mind and spiral out of control.

I am also putting together a free downloadable resource with specific practical tools to help us all fight those thoughts. I would love your input, so I can make it as helpful for you as possible. Would you please take a few minutes answer some quick questions? It will take less than 5 minutes, and I will send you a thank you gift for your time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now that we know who we are fighting in this battle, we can be prepared to win. I am taking my life back from the grip of anxiety, and you can too.

Have a fantastic day, and remember you have been Redeemed For More.