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.
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 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.
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?
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.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When my worry is great within me, Your comfort brings joy to my soul.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give peace to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Most days I ask myself where is God in all of this?
Well I just haven’t been looking very hard for Him because He is everywhere. He is in every single detail. He works through my boyfriend. He works through my pastor. He calls to me on the days where I’m unable to crawl off the couch and He comforts me. He is always there. Always.
I don’t know what I would do without my support system.
My very small close knit to me circle of people is astronomically important to me. They get it. They deal with their own mental chaos as well and they don’t drop me when I accidentally go four months living as a shut in because I can’t find the strength to leave the house let alone answer my phone.
But, while I’m drowning they’re praying. They’re making sure I’m alive. They’re waiting. And when I resurface from survival mode they’re there. No questions asked.
And I don’t know what I would do without them. I hope I am able to love them and support them as much as they do for me.
When you are going through the highs and lows of life and of mental illness there is nothing more important than your relationship with the Lord and your support system of people who love you and the Lord. That combination is my rock.
My support system reminds me to go to God, they challenge me to read my Bible and take a shower and get out of the house. They encourage me to call my doctor and actually be honest with him about how I’m doing.
Sticking to my treatment plan has been so incredibly difficult. But each time I fall off the horse they are there to help me get back up.
I can’t do this alone. Mental health is not something you go through alone. You go through it with your doctor, support system, and God.
One moment I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m going through my day like a normal functioning adult. I’m taking my meds, and not the emergency ones, just the maintenance ones. I can go to social functions with little difficulty.
….and the next I feel like I’m drowning, suffocating, being attacked from all sides, yet so completely alone.
I feel defeated. Ready to give up. Sobbing in a crumpled mess, unable to get up off the couch because I’m devastated and exhausted.
I just don’t know why. I feel like a failure. A burden. A screw up. I can’t do anything right. I’m not supposed to be happy.
Everything inside of me dies.
I fall asleep from the exhaustion of the fight in my own head and the next question is will I wake up completely fine? Or will the feelings of mental devastation roll over to the next day?
This battle within me is a never ending tidal wave going back and forth. Back and forth.
People say I’m just not relying on God. My doctor says I need to up my medication. I tell myself to just give in to the hurt. Give in to the mental battle and give up.
I can’t give up though. Because right now I’m in the middle of a good moment. I want to keep fighting to live a life dedicated to serving the Lord and loving those around me.
So I refuse to let myself give up even when everything inside of me is sick of fighting.
I pray the turmoil inside of me subside even the tiniest bit so I can see the light. I pray I can see God’s hand when I’m on the floor and can’t breathe. I pray I continue to fight. Continue to encourage others to fight. And continue to seek the Lord. He isn’t done with me yet.
My good mental health days usually start out beautifully. Imagine I’m knitting a gorgeous blanket, I’m getting so far and accomplishing so much and it’s just going so smoothly. And then a hiccup happens. A bump in the road. Something happens that severely upsets my good mental health day. I begin to unravel. That blanket I’ve been knitting all day quickly goes from a perfectly knitted project to a pile of destroyed yarn on the floor. With me collapsed on top of it in a heap of depressed sobbing. I can’t function.
I don’t know why I do this. My psych has explained it so many times to me, and we work on finding meds that help with my reactions and my ability to handle situations, handle messing up, handle being yelled at, but sometimes, almost all the time, my beautiful mental health day goes from a stunning blanket to a heap of yarn that can’t be salvaged.
I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be able to be a boss over every situation that came my way. I would see a potential problem and jump at the opportunity to fix it but now I crumple and it kills me. This isn’t who I am. I am not someone who breaks apart at the slightest inconvenience. I am not someone who can’t handle a plate overflowing with things that need to be done.
The girl I see in the mirror the past few years? I don’t recognize her at all. She isn’t me.