“It’s Just Anxiety.”

I’ve always had anxiety. My parents joked that I came out of the womb anxious. Because of this anxiety I’ve thrown up every single morning from since I was 4 1/2 years old (that’s 24 years for those of you keeping track at home). 24 years of throwing up every single morning. 24 years of unnecessary tests, scoping, probing, medication to rebuild the tissues of my esophagus, and organ removal to try to cure my chronic morning sickness. Yes. Organ removal.

During Covid I stayed home from work, church, and anything social for a total of 9 months, which was the worst thing I could have done. I thought my anxiety was bad until I tried venturing out into the world and doing things again, turns out I made my anxiety 1000 times worse. Venturing back out into the world for me meant crippling panic attacks in grocery store parking lots, sobbing, shaking, and hyperventilating at the thought of leaving the house, and an inability to do the things I once loved. I also developed a new symptom to my anxiety during this time, which was my entire body going numb. Anxiety was no longer something I just had to deal with and occasionally take rescue medication for, it was now in control of my entire life.

Venturing back out into the world meant more psychiatrist appointments and more medications than I’ve ever been on before. It meant more rescue medication than before. It meant trying to find natural remedies for panic attacks and surviving social situations because I grew exhausted of how xanax made me feel even though it became a daily part of my survival plan.

Normal things that had not increased my anxiety suddenly became out of the question. My increased anxiety made my marriage proposal weekend a living nightmare. Which looking back kills me because I would have loved to be in the moment and enjoy a meticulously planned out 4 days but I allowed my anxiety to make me hate every minute of it, and almost completely ruin it.

Anxiety is exhausting. It has stolen my life. It has become the biggest factor of my life. Every scenario I enter on a daily basis needs to have at least two exit strategies set in place, and that’s if I can even muster up enough mental strength to venture out of the house or out of my comfort zone. And believe me, my comfort zone is ridiculously small.

So please don’t tell me it’s just anxiety when it is something that has been debilitating my entire life and the lives of many others. If you don’t know what anxiety can do to a person, just stay out of the conversation.

Kelsey, thank you for this brilliant post. You really hit the nail on the head. Check Kelsey’s Instagram out here.

God take this pain from me

I really just want to be at the whole clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future part of my life now please.

I don’t feel strong enough to survive this pain much longer.

Key word there being “I”, I guess.

God needs to be my strength. I need to let Him in and allow Him to cover me in His strength and comfort. Because the reality of all of this is that I’m weak and fragile and broken.

I tend to do everything I can to attempt to numb my hurt because being out of control and being in pain is killing me. And the more I can numb the pain the better I feel like I can survive my days.

But the attempts to numb the pain are actually emotionally crippling me to the point where I’m not healing, I’m not thriving, and I’m certainly not relying on God or giving control over to Him.

So I sit on the floor in my tears, post panic attack, and I’m begging God with the last few ounces of strength in my body….to be my strength and my comfort. So that I may move on to a period of healing and be able to help others heal and be in relationship with God.

Lord, take this devastation and brokenness and create something beautiful for You.

The Battle Within My Brain

I kill myself daily over and over again flipping through every single scenario in my head to figure out if I’m ruining my relationship, my friendships, my job, my family…

There is a never ending investigation against myself by myself to see where I am failing, where I am falling short, where I am being a hindrance and an annoyance instead of a help and a joy.

I thoroughly believe that me being mentally ill is going to be the downfall for everything that is good in my life.

Why should I be happy? I can’t be happy. I’m not happy. What am I currently ruining? How have I negatively affected my partner this week? Did I offend my best friend? Did I blow off my mom? Does everyone currently hate me?

I don’t know why I do this. I don’t know why I exhaust myself and overanalyze every single little interaction I have ever had. It’s exhausting. It’s ridiculous. But I can’t stop doing it.

I found this quote about OCD, It’s like you have two brains – a rational brain and an irrational brain. And they’re constantly fighting.” – Emilie Ford. That’s how it feels. Like my brain is constantly battling itself.

I found this image on http://helpguide.org

I obsess over everything, little things are huge things, I destroy my nails and pick at my teeth and scratch the same spot on my hand over and over and over again and pull at the same spot on my ear while I destroy my brain thinking about every single detail, every single conversation, every single underlying tone, every single facial expression. It’s all glaringly loud and screaming in my head. I don’t know how to stop the cycle.

I’m sure plenty of you can relate to the fear of relapsing and spiraling with your mental health during this time of uncertainty. with society, with our jobs, with finances, with the inability to afford mental health care, with doctors offices closed. It’s definitely scary. It’s a game of survival. The only thing we can do is keep checking in on one another and make sure that when we can afford healthcare again…that we actually make the leap to get help.

Life After Trauma

Life after trauma takes a bit more time…if that makes sense.

Simple decisions that used to be decided in a single thought now seem to take days. And even after you’ve made a decision you rethink that every single moment until you make yourself crazy.

You find yourself distracted by everything and anything and focusing on anything in particular…besides your trauma…just seems utterly impossible.

Mindless distractions take the place of responsibilities. New ticks take the place of healthy habits. Nail biting, picking your cuticles until they bleed, biting your lips, staring off into space, scratching your skin, tapping your foot, rubbing your sleeve…all things you do to self soothe…yet they never seem to work. You obsessively pick at yourself until you feel better.

Life slows down, it stops, it pauses, but at the same time it’s going far too fast and you can’t seem to catch up.

The simplest things take far too much time, far too much brain power, and everything weighs so much. Life is too heavy.

Life is wading in water and sometimes the wading becomes so exhausting that you slowly begin to drown.

It’s easier to close everyone out, even the most important people in your life, than to let them in even for just a second because you know as soon as you do the rawness of your vulnerability and scars may scare them away.

So you sit in your trauma…in your pain…in your loneliness counting down the days until you feel normal again.

Forever Changed

We are hosting a fun bonfire tonight for our students and all I want to do is crawl into my bed and sob my eyes out. Something happened to me this past year that completely changed me for the worst. What used to bring me joy and excitement now brings me anxiety and dread.

I’ve changed into this depressed angry anxious person and I don’t like it. I miss the joy of looking forward to having a fun night and enjoying the company of those around me. Instead I’m praying I regain the ability to feel my face, hands, and face. Which is a common problem these days when I begin to panic.

I know, the Lord is supposed to be my source of joy. But even the thought of talking to Him these days makes me feel anxious. I know deep down it isn’t true but I feel too broken and hurt to even work on my relationship with God.

-ugh-

World Mental Health Day

It was World Mental Health Day. this past Saturday and I couldn’t leave the couch.

It has been weeks of long exhausting days, mentally taxing crisis situations, faking it through required social interactions, and panic attacks for what seems like very little reason. Completely overthinking to the point of making myself physically ill.

I have not been taking care of myself. My worries and stresses have been overwhelming and instead of seeking a therapist or reaching out to my psychiatrist or most importantly spending time with God I’ve been wallowing in a state of mental distress.

On edge all the time, completely exhausted, not even taking a second to evaluate the state of my mental health and implement changes. Just embracing this as an it is what it is situation.

I talk about seeking out your support group, doing check-ins, and making sure you stay on top of your mental health…but I’ve been doing little of what I’ve been preaching recently. And I’m sick of it.

I’m so tired of this routine, the routine of keeping up with meds and psych appointments and coffee dates out with friends and functioning like a semi-normal human being…and then crumbling entirely.

Do you have anything you do to avoid the total mental breakdown days…weeks…months? How do you combat what feels like the inevitable with anxiety and depression?

Stop Worrying

Can you do anything about what you are worrying about? Or are you giving yourself a panic attack or stomach ulcer over something you can do nothing more than pray about?

Philippians 4:16 Do not be anxious about anything.

I didn’t occur to me until recently that my constant anxiety and worry about literally everything going on not only in my own life, but also other people’s lives, was not adding a day to my life. In fact it was creating more problems. What I view as caring too much, is actually an incredible unhealthy way of trying to control life.

Psalm 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone.

My not relying on the Lord for the things keeping me up at night is exhausting. Not just because I’m not sleeping because I’m so anxious, but because my brain literally never stops all day long. If I’m not worrying about finances, I’m worrying if I gave all the correct medications and dosages at work, or worrying if my man is going to get home from work without dying in a car accident, or worrying if my friends hate me, or worrying if my friends are going to be able to afford to move when they need to move, or worrying about every single thing I have zero control over. I’m not giving anything to God. Instead of handing it over, I’m holding onto it and I’m pretending it is my responsibility to have control over every aspect of life. Worrywart does not even begin to describe it.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So how do I relinquish this need for control that only fuels my already crappy anxiety? Well to start with I recognize it as a problem that needs attention. I recognize that God needs to be number one front and center in control over all things big, small, and in between. I recognize that my anxiety needs to be treated by a medical professional who specializes in mental illnesses. And I pray. I need to pray day in and out. Pray about everything. Pray that I can release the need for control, the need to worry.

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength. -Corrie Ten Boom

Stop worrying because it’s not good for you. Stop worrying because life is too short to feel like the world is going to collapse every second of every day. Stop worrying because you are not putting your trust in God when you worry to the point of needing to have control over everything around you, Stop worrying because you are not appreciating the here and now. Stop worrying because it accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Matthew 6:27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Time

Speaking of schedules…

Something I learned during my Covid quarantine is I need me time. My schedule leading up to quarantine was dangerously packed. And if I didn’t have anything scheduled I was almost guaranteed to have a mental breakdown. Not exactly healthy.

Now I am intentional with what I schedule into my life. I want to make sure I’m not scheduling so much in that I forget my cup also needs to be filled, that my life also needs attention. I want to make sure I have actual time with my boyfriend. I want to make sure that I have openings for a friend or student texting me, “Hey can you grab coffee today?“. I want to make sure my Bible gets cracked open more than just once a week on Sunday mornings. I want to make sure my mental health gets taken care of. I want to make sure I don’t implode when change happens, but embrace it and lean into God. “Okay Lord, my time on this earth is a gift from You, use it.”

My time is not my own. My time is the Lord’s. What am I doing with this time? Am I glorifying Him? Serving Him? Leading others to Him? Am I working on my mental health, my relationship, my friendships, my communication with my family? Or am I so busy I’m not living in the moment, I’m just pushing through a crammed schedule so I don’t feel anything?

I need to be an intentional steward of my time starting with making God #1.

Change

I do not like change one bit. I will probably say that I like change but that’s me just trying to convince myself I like change. The reality being change sucks. I think it’s a mental thing, I get used to things, I create expectations of life that can be met, I like schedules, I like knowing things. But with change you don’t get that. Change isn’t consistent, change you don’t know what to expect, it’s scary, it’s not something that can always fit nicely into a little box and slide gracefully into a preexisting timeline of life. It’s messy. It’s demanding of flexibility.

But do you know who can handle the things that make me completely bonkers? God. God is all over everything even when I’m scrambling to handle the most mundane change, God is already there. He is already in the mess. He is my rock. He is my refuge among the crazy. I just need to lean on Him, let Him be my strength, let Him take over. Because if I ignore God when I’m in the eye of the hurricane of change, I will completely implode and lose focus on what actually matters.

And what actually matters is loving others like Christ loves me no matter the circumstance and no matter my schedule.

He does not ask for perfections, He asks for my surrender.