I debated writing this article for a long time. Did I want to let the world know about my struggle with a disease that seems to have taken over this entire year? Do I want to seem weak or attention seeking for talking about it? Well, no. I didn't want to let the world know, and I don't want this article to be something that's perceived as attention seeking either. So quite frankly, I'm writing to speak against my anxiety and to speak about my God who is able to deliver me from it (eventually).
What is anxiety?
I wish that there was one specific definition, but I've learned that it's truly a spectrum. There's not one way to have anxiety, although the symptoms may be similar for people who have it. Merriam Webster says that being anxious is ": characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency: WORRIED". I do like the "extreme uneasiness of the mind" phrase that they used because that's an accurate description for me personally.
It feels like walking on a tightrope sometimes and not believing if there's a net underneath while you're not able to control your breathing the entire time. In a real-life scenario, waitressing caused me extreme anxiety. There's nothing that will put you on that tightrope more than am 12-person table yelling at you since the fear of being fired on the spot was always in the back of my mind (hence, uneasiness).
However, that's not the case for everyone. Sometimes it's simply going to an event where there's nobody there that you know. Sometimes it's the idea of being rejected by your friend group, so what's the point of showing up? Also, pre-test anxiety is definitely a valid form that appears quite frequently in our college campus. In a relationship situation, it makes me believe that they're only with me out of pity. With simple things such as Snapchat or texting, I am constantly afraid of feeling annoying to someone.
Anxiety is complex, but it interferes with simple, daily, tasks. I believe that anxiety takes a different form for each person who has to experience it, and different coping mechanisms work differently with each person.
There's progress being made in the world of recognizing and treating it, however, I feel as if things like anxiety and depression hold such a taboo in our culture still, even with all of the work done by organizations like Buddy Project or TWLOHA. And therapy? In our society, you're looked upon as "weak" if you reach out for help. You know what I've learned? The strongest thing in the world is asking for help. Admitting that you're struggling is such an important step in recovering.
I feel as if we take the things that consume our time the most and turn them into the labels we wear. For example, most people my age wear "college student" like a slightly-beat up crown. "We're college students and we're exhausted!" It's something to define us, right? I spend most of my time worrying about or doing school work, so therefore "College Student" is my identity.
However, personally, my anxiety takes up a lot of my time. It's like my shadow that shows up even when it's dark outside. I spend an hour every week in therapy and every other week going to the doctor to check out my medication, dosages, and coming up with a plan to manage it. Naturally, with the logic of using "time spent" to determine identity, Anxiety would be plastered on my forehead.
But you know what label really matters? I am a child of God. There's a song we sing at camp that goes "cast your burdens *clap clap clap* onto Jesus *clap clap clap* for he careeeesssss for you (yes he does!)"
Which is based on 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Is there not a lot of truth to that? Shouldn't we cast all of our cares onto the one who created us?
Matthew 11:28-30 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
My favorite is Romans 8:38-39 where Paul says:
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even Anxiety. This was the messy truth, and it's time we start talking about it more often. Anxiety is no match for my God. I am a child of God- not a prisoner to anxiety.
TAMU STUDENT HELPLINE: 979-845-2700
NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255
BUDDY PROJECT WEBSITE: http://www.buddy-project.org/