Coping with Anxiety

I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. Tuesday, February 11th, 2020. I wrote:

“It’s been a battle all day.”“Wanting to give up trying so hard. Call in sick. Leave work early. Give little to no effort. But then something happens, I get into auto pilot. It’s like I get a brain break from all the other thoughts and concerns I have. I’m so focused on my job, Drs. appts or the boys to think about anything else.But when I have a chance to think… I feel a heavy weight. I want to cry and scream and go to sleep. I don’t want to try. I don’t want responsibilities, because I can’t live up to them. I don’t want to talk, to anyone. I want to be hugged tightly and numb the pain with chocolate.  I feel the pull to escape and want to run away for a mental break. In fact, I’ve been fantasizing that.”

Every anxious period I have is a battle between what I feel in the moment and what I know to be true forever.

I am a teacher and the other day I was in a training about the difference between students with anxiety and students with an anxiety disorder. Did you know there was a difference?

Anxiety
  1. is something everyone experiences

  2. only in short amounts

  3. typically situational

  4. they can easily be distracted from their anxiousness

  5. does not spend a lot of time worrying about it Anxiety Disorder

  6. not everyone experiences and can be hard to verbalize

  7. worries about things that seem irrational to others

  8. lasts for long periods of time

  9. usually accompanied with physical symptoms

  10. can be triggered by past events

I have known that I have an anxiety disorder since my early adult years, and I’ve always been confused about it. Like, “Why would God make me “broken? Why would he want me to struggle with this burden?” Since I know God has made me in his image and I am his image bearer, I have reconciled that the only reason I am dealing with this anxiety disorder is to help others who struggle. You see, anxiety and depression can be very isolating and stereotyped. So, most people won’t just open up and say they are struggling with it. They won’t tell you that anxiety is the reason they can’t come to your event, or why they cancel last minute, or anything like that, because it is not widely accepted as a valid reason. However, I have realized the more open I am with my personal mental health experience the stronger relationships I build. Instead of coming up with an excuse as to why I can’t do something, I will straight up tell people it’s because I need a “down day” or a “mental health day” or I need “alone time.” Sometimes people’s responses will not always be what I want or expect.

I can’t control how others respond.

I can only control my response.

You can only control your response.

Before this last anxious period, (which has lasted about 10 days and I can finally feel it starting to lift), I was training for a 5k, starting a sugar fast, on top of all the other normal day-to-day stuff I was doing. When anxiety hit, so did physical symptoms, which meant it was very difficult to go running consistently. That was stressful because I had a schedule to keep! One of the characteristics of having an anxiety disorder is you do not like your routine changed suddenly.

Every time I go through an anxious period I usually feel as though I am letting myself down, I can’t keep up my normal day to day routine because I am in survival mode.

There is so much good I want to do that its overwhelming. It is when I get into this state that I realize I need to back away. Take some things off of my plate. In my head it seems as though everything I am doing is essential and non-negotiable. Until it is spoken out loud or written down. Then it becomes tangible and not so big. This is how we are kept from accomplishing anything worthwhile…we keep it all in because its “too much” or “there is no point”, “nothing will change.” These are the lies from the enemy to keep us down. And it works.

Has it been a battle for you?

When I think back on the months, weeks or days I have anxiety I realize I am in a battle. A battle I will either win by fighting each day or losing and falling into a depression. I wrote a poem during one of those periods called Numb vs. Alive and it’s about knowing how it feels to be numb but on the contrary feeling so full of joy and completely alive. When we experience these trials, it is a true battlefield. We are waging a spiritual war between God’s will and our human will. It’s a tug of war.

I have been teaching in my class how God made us in his image, but he also gave us certain characteristics, one of them being able to choose between right and wrong. We have the choice to follow God or not, but it’s not always easy. That is the struggle. That cues anxiety. But God, He doesn’t want us to struggle with anxiety, so he gives us scripture to remind us of how to handle these human emotions.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philippians 4:6

I know, you are probably thinking this is a downer Kristen…But wait! I do have some good news, a praise report! Over the last year I have been teaching full time and have not called in sick because of my anxiety! This was a normal occurrence for me, it was how I coped, I escaped! Which meant eventually I didn’t have a job lol Now, going to work helps my anxiety. I teach 1stgrade and for the most part its lighthearted and busy. Which helps to refocus my mindset and not be so burdened by my worries or concerns. There is no time for that, I have 15, 6 and 7-year-olds to focus on!

The one thing I wasn’t sure I could handle because of my anxiety; God has allowed to help it. Thank you!!  

These are just some of the things I have implemented that help me when I feel anxiety coming on, in no particular order:

How I cope with my anxiety disorder:
  1. Running (when physical symptoms don’t prohibit)

  2. Reading

  3. Prayer

  4. Instead of calling into work sick, I have a half hour to hour all to myself after work to rest and recover.

  5. Counseling, and or speaking to a trusted friend/mentor

  6. Massage Therapy

  7. Chiropractor

  8. Medicine & Vitamins

  9. Music- Typically a worship playlist. When I don’t have the words to say, music does.

If anxiety feels like a battle for you, I would encourage you to find healthy ways to cope with it. There are times when I am in full on survival mode going through the motions and I can’t understand how it will ever change. And then I remember to try, no matter how hard it is, try and every day it gets a little better.

Let me know how I can pray for you, if you don’t want to leave a public comment please message/email me, I would love to hear from you.

In Him,

Kristen Oliver

#scripture #depression #coping #battle #christian #lies #anxiety #anxious #truth

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