Anxiety is me screaming silently to the world. It is me trying to smile while my mind, heart, and emotions spin around me. Anxiety is me sitting alone guilting myself for feeling overwhelmed and scared. It is me replaying the past, waking up in the middle of the night, and me silently begging everyone around me to look deeply into my eyes and know what I need without me asking for it.
I had only experienced two panic attacks in my life before this past year, and they weren’t as severe as I realized they could be. In May of this year, I experienced a very intense panic attack. It was triggered by something my husband had said that for some reason awakened a subconscious fear I had, rooted in my parent’s marriage. During that week I had discovered my parents were getting a divorce. I had only been married for a few weeks, and the battle between viewing marriage as a good or bad thing began to wage war in my heart. New insecurities about marriage woke up and anxiety began to tap at my heart and mind. Phrases people said would evoke emotions in me, reminding me of random moments from my childhood. Marriage began to feel like a trap I had put myself in.
It was on this night when I had a panic attack, where I laid on my bed and began shaking uncontrollably, couldn’t get myself to breathe, and felt the overwhelming emotion of not wanting to live anymore. I vaguely remember Russell yelling, begging me to breathe and look him in the eyes. He wanted to call 911 but I had pinned the phone underneath me and whispered, “Just let me go.” It had only felt like 10 minutes, but Russell told me the next day that I went in and out of it for about an hour.
I felt embarrassed about that night, and I didn’t really want to tell anybody because I felt crazy. I blamed myself for reacting so irrationally and I was scared of my own mind.
I continue to feel like hiding my thoughts from the world when chest pains begin, my heart beats faster, and my mind spins when something overwhelms me. Anxiety only heightens irrational fears, and it makes you feel even crazier because they are, in fact, very irrational. While I get embarrassed of these thoughts, I think if we could all hear each other in the silence, we may all give each other a reassuring smile. We may all realize that we all have our moments, and that maybe some of us just have a few more of them.
For the past 8 months, I have continued to have panic attacks at random moments, often at night or in my sleep. My body feels anxious often, and I get angry at myself and beg God to just give me peace and assurance. I have beat myself up for struggling with anxiety, because I have even judged people with anxious hearts, thinking, “Why can’t they trust in God enough?”
Maybe that’s why no one wants to talk about panic attacks and anxiety.
We feel like we shouldn’t struggle with it. And whether you’re a Christian or not, I want to share something with you: I don’t think it’s a matter of whether or not we trust God, I think it’s a matter of letting Him take care of us when we do feel the way we do. We have to allow Him the opportunity to be our comfort and shower us with His love and peace, rather than our own criticisms and fears.
It was only recently, when I opened up to some people about my struggle, that I discovered I definitely wasn’t the only one.
YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE.
It was healing in itself to know that anxiety and panic attacks weren’t just figments of my imagination, but real struggles that real people have. I think we all get kind of uncomfortable when the topic of anxiety comes up because we fear judgment and belittlement from our peers and church. We fear that our fears are not valid, and that our panic attacks are just us enabling Satan to have a hold on our hearts.
I really want us all to just come out and be transparent with each other, and show Satan what’s up and show him that he will not keep us in hiding. We will not stay in the dark all by ourselves. We will not give our fears the power to destroy us. We will instead start bringing our nightmares into the light, giving ourselves the grace to feel what we feel and be real about it. We will find people to share our experiences with, and we will not tell ourselves anymore that it is our fault for the way we feel.
We will find healing. We will find peace. We will stand together.
I believe freedom is birthed from transparency and honesty. We no longer allow our fears and lies to be wrapped in pretty boxes, instead we choose to give ourselves the opportunity to relate to those around us. Throwing our social media masks and expectations away, we must train our hearts and minds to be truthful in the way we present ourselves to the world, otherwise we are just barricading ourselves from the ability to truly function as a community.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And maybe that verse makes you feel guilty for feeling anxiety or having reoccurring panic attacks, but stop going down that old mental road right now! What God is reminding us to do in this verse is to turn to Him and begin to pray and ask for His help. He relieves my anxious heart. He reminds me to breathe. And it is HE who reminds me that it is okay to feel, but I must feel with Him.
So anxious hearts out there, can we commit to standing together? Can we come out to our friends with our hands linked and heads held up high?
I am here for you. HE is here for you. Let’s do it together.