Your Anxiety Needs You To Give It Grace
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Health and Wellness

The Weight Of Anxiety Can Seem Overbearing, Until You Start Giving Yourself Grace

This simple change in your mindset truly has a freeing power.

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The Weight Of Anxiety Can Seem Overbearing, Until You Start Giving Yourself Grace

Hey, I'm Zoey. I am a 19-year-old elementary education major at Stephen F. Austin State University, and I have social anxiety.

I am lucky enough to be able to say I can get out of bed most days and it's manageable, but sometimes it's really hard. It affects me in every aspect of my life. It affects my grades, my friendships, my faith, my motivation, and my family. My anxiety drove my life instead of me. Over the last eight years, I have had to learn to manage, control, and cope with it.

More importantly, I have learned to give myself grace and not dwell on things.

To give you some insight and background — I had my first anxiety attack the summer before sixth grade. I was 11, I was at summer camp, and I was terrified. I had no idea what was going on with my mind or my body. I did not understand why I could not breathe and why I felt like the walls of the tiny cabin were closing in on me.

I can vividly remember being moved downstairs from the treehouse cabins at camp and into the director's quarters (the DQ). They were calling the nurse but making sure they knew it was not an emergency hospital call. The nurse at camp asked if this had happened before. I did not want to go home because I loved camp, so I told the nurse my parents knew, and I usually would just wait for it to pass. She believed me.

This was the first anxiety attack out of many.

They got worse as middle school began and every time I always said "my mom knows about it. I will be fine." I guess I made a compelling argument because my parents never figured it out until years later. For four and a half years I continued to have these anxiety attacks alone. I was good at keeping them concealed. I would lock myself in my closet at home and go to the bathrooms at school.

So, what caused these anxiety attacks? Everything social. Making friends. Saying the wrong answer when called on in class. Thinking about my friendships. and the most overwhelming factor, the thought of failure and others not liking me. I became destructive in relationships to prevent people from liking me. I would pick fights with the few friends I had to make them hate me. I figured if I did not have friends, I could not do anything wrong. I did not want friends, so I tried to kill the relationships with the ones I had. I let this fear of failure or disappointment from others determine my every move. This anxiety took over my life. It was all I could think about and I did everything to avoid an anxiety attack. I will not say I cut everyone off but I held everyone by the tips of my fingers so I could flake at any moment. I became shallow and it became hard for me to function. Eventually, I got sick of this feeling of drowning and opened up to my parents. Of course, I downplayed it and just said I'm feeling a little anxious about life but nothing serious. I made sure they knew I did not need help. I did not get any until my junior year of high school when I went to New York City with my family. I was in the middle of time square and I was overwhelmed by the number of people. In the middle of crossing the street in Times Square, I dropped to my knees because I could not breathe.

That's when my family decided I needed actual help.

Since then, I have gotten a lot better. I have learned to work through the anxiety. I have put myself in situations that force me to break my social fear. I have joined clubs where I have to be goofy and carefree. I have found friendships with people who understand what I am going through, or at least try to. I joined a sorority. I have started working at that camp where I had my first anxiety attack all those years ago and love it so incredibly much. I have gotten to learn that it is okay to be afraid and mess up. I have learned to give myself grace.

Grace, in terms of Christianity, is the mercy given to us by God. It can also be described as getting a new slate every day. This goes for everyone whether you believe or not. This is something I got the chance to learn about a lot this summer at camp. I am incredibly hard on myself and that stems from many panic attacks. I can say one tiny thing wrong in a conversation and I will dwell on it for days. I hate disappointing others and I constantly feel like I have to prove my worth to others and God because if I do not, I do not deserve love. Which is not true.

At the camp I work at, we have these cool things called Prayer Partners. For the three amazing weeks, I was able to work this summer, I had two amazing prayer partners, (I had one prayer partner for two weeks) who did more for me than they will ever realize. They helped me realize that I need to give myself grace. When I mess up, I should give myself grace.

When I say the wrong thing — I should give myself grace.

When I forget to do something — I should give myself grace.

When I sit there and tell myself that I am not good enough — I should give myself grace.

When I feel guilty for being so anxious — I should give myself grace.

When I fall short — I should give myself grace.

Especially when I do not feel like I deserve it — I should give myself grace.

Through everything in life, all the ups and downs, I get to wake up every single day with a new slate. Which is pretty cool.

I learned that grace is something I should give myself (and others of course) because my anxiety is not what defines me, and it is not something I should dwell on. I still struggle with anxiety. I still feel guilty about picking up the phone and calling my friends when I feel low and do not want to be alone. I still do not want to be a burden on anyone. I still have constant pressure on my heart when I feel like I am constantly not good enough for those I love most. Even as I sit here writing this, I have this pressure in my heart that I messed up by asking a question. But through it all, I get to give myself grace. I get to wake up every morning and know I have a clean slate.

If you feel the weight of anxiety constantly, give yourself grace.

Let yourself wake up every morning as if nothing from the day before happened. Remember that your slate is cleared every morning, even when you do not feel like you deserve it. You DO deserve it. do not let anxiety drag you down.

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