Get Up and Go - Fighting the Stigma of Anxiety
I remember when I first got my panic attack – it was a cold January night and I was getting ready for bed. I brushed my teeth, climbed into bed and went on Tumblr. I saw a post on Tumblr that detailed what happens to a human’s body when they are crucified and the amount of pain a body undergoes as they are crucified. And just like that, a wave of anxiety washed over me. To say panic and anxiety attacks are terrible is an understatement. After my first panic attack, the second and third soon followed and I couldn’t function. It got bad to the point where I had to quit my degree. I stayed home watching Friends and occasionally Gilmore Girls. In that moment, there was nothing more I wanted to do than to numb the pain by sleeping.
That summer was a huge turning point for me. After experiencing my first panic attack, it effectively broke off my relationship with Jesus. After being apart for six months, I got back together with Him during an altar call and decided to get back into university to a degree which sounded fun. Around the same time I visited family in India and had to tell them that I did the most un-Indian thing ever – quit a degree with strong job prospects.
When I went to visit family in India, I remember clear as day when I had to tell them about my anxiety and that I had quit my course. I remember one family member distinctly. We were having tea and when I told him fighting back the tears of what happened, how scary it was and he said in a matter fact of voice: ‘just get over it and go do it. You’ll get over it.’
I remember sitting there feeling numb, not quite sure on how to respond. I believe that the stigma of anxiety and mental health is something that is still prevalent; especially the idea of ‘get over it and get on with it.’ Have you had someone say that to you? If you have, friend, I am so sorry.
Friend, if you struggle with anxiety, let me echo with you that it isn’t easy to just get up and go. I get that it’s sometimes hard to put a pin on it, compartmentalize and get on with your day and your to-do list – I’ve been there, tried to do that and failed miserably. But, I have found that there are somethings that can help a little. The starting and ending of the day has a huge impact for me. If I start my day right and end the day right, I give myself a bit more of a solid ground for the next day. When I start my day, I incorporate worship of some sort. It usually used to be walking to the bus stop and belting a worship anthem on the road. If that isn’t possible, I listen to a podcast or a sermon, have the Bible app read out the bible for me. I am intentional that I bring Jesus into the day I am walking into.
What I have found that during the day, unplanned situations that were out of my control would pop up and I have to remind myself to take it one tiny step at a time, making sure to relay everything to Jesus. In my current role as a Security Officer, there are certain roles and positions I don’t like. I mean, if I could avoid it, I would avoid it like the plague. But the first time I had to take lead on a role, I was petrified. I tried to avoid it, I tried to give it away and anxiety was slowly starting to kick in. So my whole journey to work was a mixture of ‘Lord, how can I get out of this? Shall I fake sickness? I’m really scared. I don’t want to mess up. You got me. I know you got me. You’ve entrusted me in this place and you’re the sane one between the both of us. I’m still scared. You got me…right? Right. You’ve got me. Our God is an awesome God, who reigns from heaven above and in this position that you have put me in.’ I got through the day doing little tiny steps, tiny victories – making it through first break, making it through second break, getting a top up of worship and giving it to God and then starting over.
When the day was over, I reflected on the fact that I couldn’t have done the day without Jesus. Without feeling His presence by my side and for that I am grateful. Grateful that I serve a God who works all things for good. Grateful for God being with me. Grateful that I did the day and I was courageous in the face of anxiety and grateful that it was because of God, that I was able to do it. When I am grateful for the all-powerful God who is cheering me on, anxiety loses a little power over me.
Friend, you may be doing a version of this even without this blog post but if there is one thing you can take away from this, it’s that you don’t have to get up and go. You don’t have to ‘get over it’ on someone else’s timeline. Give yourself grace and treat yourself with kindness so that you can allow God to be your Prince of Peace in the midst of anxiety and when God comes in, anxiety loses it’s grip on you because where there’s peace everlasting, anxiety doesn’t stand a chance.
PS, hey girlfriend! Did you know that we have FREE Exhale sessions? It’s your chance to jump on video with us and we can come alongside you and journey with you in whatever season you are in. Click this link to book your free session now - wearechai.as.me/exhalesessions