My pen scribbles, writing illegibly, then suddenly scoots across the page marking up my notes. My inability to control the pen means only one thing. I am feeling anxious.
I pause and take a deep breath, inhaling slowly while counting to four. After holding it for six seconds, I exhale while counting to eight. It is a wash, rinse, repeat style of breathing technique that is meant to calm the fight or flight adrenaline racing through anxious bodies.
While breathing, I thank God that He is in control, that the burden of the next hour and day and years to come is His alone. My stomach hurts and heart beats fast. My insides seem to be shaking. Pondering why anxiety has hit me so hard today (asking God to show me), the answer comes readily.
I am anxious because of deadlines although I could not have told you that before my pen took on a mind of its own. Anxiety is sneaky like that. After purposely considering worst-case scenarios if deadlines are missed, I am reminded that I have survived one hundred percent of my biggest failures. Today will not be the worst day of my life.
Calmer now, I have entered what some therapists call the “wise mind,” neither unfeeling nor controlled by emotion. It can take a while for the body to catch up, so intentional breathing continues.
Know your symptoms
What are you thinking before anxiety kicks in? When I took the time for introspection and replay of today’s thoughts, the view became clear. I had awakened looking at the clock and thinking “I have to remember to do such-n-such.” Similar thoughts repeated throughout the morning. Then the pen took off.
How do you recognize your anxiety?
Know your risk factors
A history of depression and other mental health challenges may create a susceptibility to anxiety. I think of it (in non-medical terms) as a brain scar. Where my brain was once psychologically wounded, there exists a weak spot. It is not horrible, but it helps with awareness and acceptance to know it is there.
A lack of support is huge. A big part of why I have suffered depression and anxiety in the past is because I would not talk to anyone about what I felt. Stuffed emotions will force themselves out in some way. I’m learning to strengthen those willing-to-reach-out muscles and it is freeing.
Find out what sets you off. Avoid it if possible. I avoid the news.
Immerse yourself in faith
Strategies and coping techniques work. Some work better than others. We can feel good and well as a result of having strong support systems, working at talk therapy, taking medications, and the like. Faith is not necessary for a sense of wholeness and hope.
However, take note. All the above are temporary solutions and contingent on unchanging circumstances. Permanent hope comes from an eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son. We cannot be completely whole until we have filled our soul with the One who created us for fellowship with Himself.
Having the Almighty to turn to in desperate times is why I am alive today. He reaches into my deepest needs, draws them out, and meets them. Answers come much more quickly, and peace lingers. He carried me to the right people for professional help while my marriage and other relationships fell apart. He led me out of the pit of severe depression. Jesus continues to carry me through 2020’s challenges.
You can know Him too.
Today’s Helpful Word
Jesus replied… “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”
At this point, many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.., Carlo Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved