This is nothing new. I have felt debilitating anxiety ever since I was a child. For most of my life, I didn’t know what to call it. I didn’t like the word anxiety because to me that represented something I could control. When I felt overcome by anxiousness, I believed it was a weakness. A flaw. A sign that I didn’t have enough faith. A sin. But an illness? I didn’t even know that was a thing.
So I tried to pray my way out of it. I tried to reason my way out of it. I tried forcing myself to do things in spite of my fears, and I tried to maintain a positive mindset in all circumstances. But the anxiety persisted.
Meanwhile, I heard well-meaning people say things like,
“Stop assuming the worst-case scenario.”
“You must just be focusing on the negative.”
“Don’t you know the Bible says not to worry?”
“Everything is fine, why are you freaking out?”
“What is it? You’re so quiet. Speak up. Spit it out. Use your words.”
All the while I wanted to scream. If only they knew! If only I could get those words out and explain the crushing weight of being so misunderstood. But the words never came out in the moment because I was frozen, trapped in a fog, and trying to find my way back out.
Over time, I learned to suppress the anxiousness and I numbed out when it became too overpowering. But eventually my mental health hit rock bottom, and I sought professional help (only by then it was also for a severe eating disorder and major depression).