I wrote a post every day during the month of October, and then it seems I forgot how to blog. Believe me – I know how few and far between my posts have been lately. But can I be totally honest? It’s been a really hard couple of months for me.
I don’t feel well – ever – and my time has been exhaustingly spent going from one doctor to another, one lab to another, one radiologist to another, trying to figure out what might be wrong. As of this minute, all signs point to one or more issues with my thyroid. Nothing life-threatening, but enough to drain me of energy and make me feel not like myself.
On top of that, I’ve had to go back to my psychiatrist for the first time in seven years. There are many contributing factors, really, but the bottom line is that I’ve been badly depressed and am suffering from anxiety far worse than I have in a very long time.
Yeah, it’s been a hard couple of months. When I have periods like that, I want to write. I want to put words on paper (screen?) because it helps me to process and work my way through whatever it is I’m dealing with. It’s one of my coping mechanisms. There’s more to it, though.
I’ve realized over this time that part of my ministry that God has graciously given me is to put words to what I experience with depression and anxiety. It’s been made very clear to me that there is a reason why I have both the gift of writing and this particular thorn in my flesh. God did not point a finger at me and give me mental illness, but He intends to use the product of this broken world to do something good in my life and the life of others.
I believe that with all my heart. I have to.
As I was tossing and turning the other night, trying to turn off my brain so that I could sleep, I had a thought that I am sure someone needs to hear. It’s one of those thoughts that will get you into the mind of a person suffering from anxiety, which I pray will be helpful to you if you have a chronically anxious person in your life who you desperately want to understand.
Here’s the thing: most people, I think, go through life with a carefree attitude that says, “It won’t happen to me.” Current events aside, I really believe that most people keep some degree of separation between themselves and the bad things that might happen.
The “it” can be an illness, a tragedy, or a myriad of other things. Whatever “it” is, I think most people go through life believing that it won’t happen to them. They feel immune somehow – outside the reach of bad things.
A common element I’ve found in people who live with anxiety, though, is an all-pervading attitude that says, “Why wouldn’t it happen to me? It can happen. It will happen. The only question is when.”
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We walk through our days with a crippling awareness of everything that can go wrong. Rather than seeing bad things as the exception, we see them as imminent certainties. We live waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I understand how irrational that sounds. Consider, though, how irrational it is to go through life never considering that something bad might happen. Jesus has assured us that it will, after all. We will have trouble.
It is with that logic that we anxiety-sufferers rationalize our fears. We drive miles away from our house only to turn around and go back to check the stove, because the house burning down? That could totally happen to us. We carry our phones in our pockets all day while our kids are at school, answering calls from numbers we don’t recognize, because a tragedy at school? Our kids having a serious emergency? An allergic reaction to something we thought was safe? That could totally happen to us. We freak out when our husbands are even ten minutes late getting home, because a car accident that leaves us widowed? That could totally happen to us.
We don’t want to speak any of this out loud, because the irony of saying it and then it happening? That could totally happen to us.
It sounds paranoid. It sounds unreasonable. It sounds superstitious and crazy. I know. We know, but that does nothing to stop the fear.
So if you have a friend…a sister or brother…a mom or a dad…a husband or wife…a child who lives with anxiety, keep this in mind. They are fighting a battle that may not make sense to you, on the outside, but that does nothing to change the very real fear they feel on the inside.