Anxiety and depression can be really strange things. They look different on different people. Like how colors appear different on various skin tones. This is a glimpse into how I’ve experienced it.
Anxiety has pushed me to fear things I used to not think twice about.
It’s made me afraid to go to the grocery store sometimes.
I hate sleeping alone.
I’m bad at trying new foods for fear that they will make me sick, or I’ll have an allergic reaction to them.
More often than not, it’s an ache in my shoulders that I can’t get rid of with any amount of ibuprofen.
The thing that makes me saddest is the amount of great things I’ve said “no” to out of fear. I think I’m saying “yes” to safety, but it’s fear masking itself as safety.
Anxiety and depression often leave me wondering what value I can add to the world.
I question a lot.
Stare at walls a lot.
Scroll through social media too much as if it will give me whatever spark I’m hoping to feel.
I’d rather sleep than write.
Rather stay in than go out.
I always choose safety (read as fear) over taking risks. I try to live life in the moment and be present where I am, which is good in many ways. But that fear keeps me from looking back or ahead in a healthy way.
Of all the things I remember admiring about my mom, the one that stands out today was her “one day at a time” mentality. She took each day as it was, which I guess as a cancer patient, you have to do. I know she too struggled with depression. But she did it really beautifully.
I want to shoulder anxiety and depression beautifully.
Knowing they are both very real, but also that I don’t have to let them make my decisions. It’s gonna be a fight and some days, I’ll probably lose.
I get the opportunity, Lord willing, to wake up and try again.
For me, that’s succeeding with mental health. To keep pushing and knowing they don’t get the final word.
As a follower of Jesus, I have been hurt by a lot of well-meaning Christians who have tried to “pray away” my anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Lord can do whatever He wants to, and I welcome it!
But I’ve never felt “healed” of my struggle with mental health, and I can’t help but think there’s more to be asking of God than “take this away.”
Here’s what’s been cool about the struggle, though. I have felt SO extremely loved and cared for by friends who have - and continue to - sit with me in the struggle and promise that even in the darkest moments, God’s presence is here.
He’s alive and breathing and has made me alive and breathing, because he loves me. And for a moment - though depression still weighs heavy on my chest and anxiety has my heart racing - I see beauty in this struggle.
I long for the relief that the gospel gives and not in the form of God just taking it away. I see his love for me in the form of friends sitting with me as I fight for my mental health. They fight with me the way God fought for us, and that is a gift.
This struggle has opened my eyes to the kind of person I want to be. I’m not a Savior. I can’t remove suffering from anyone’s life by offering prayer as a means of fixing it. I don’t think that’s God’s intention for prayer.
His presence with us is far more important (and needed) than removing suffering. I think the same goes for our friends who struggle like I do.
Be present. Listen.
You can’t fix it, but you can be a safe space.
This is one of the reasons the song “The Secret Place” by Phil Wickham has meant so much to me.
This song is a breath of fresh air.
It calms my heart.
It reminds me of God’s presence in dark places.
I hope this glimpse into my heart and this song encourages you as someone who is suffering or as someone longing to be present for those who suffer.
I hope you feel seen, heard, known, and loved.