Anxiety/Depression-My Story: Prayer and God’s Word Gives Hope
…I want to feel my best so I can give more of myself in every way
…I have a vision of the future in my head and I know that God has a plan now I need to put my faith in Him to ease my anxious days…
These are a few of the sentences from an email I sent to my husband in 2015.
I was finally trying to put into words what I had been experiencing off and on for years. My husband was back in Scotland for a month for a clinical placement (we both went to Scotland for our master’s degrees). I was living with my parents and had our 5 month old son with me. I was still going through postpartum depression and was trying to explain it.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is defined as excessive worry and apprehension. It can lead to many symptoms including physical symptoms-breathing changes, panic attacks, neurological symptoms, amplification/creation of pain, breathing changes, mental state changes-memory changes, etc. It is normal to have short term anxiety or nervousness. Giving a presentation, a job interview, making a big decision such as purchasing a house, trying something new, having an uncomfortable conversation, etc. Anxiety is this state of nervousness that lasts and can cause other changes in mental state, mood, behavior, and panic.
Some people are more prone to anxiety. I recognize that I am one of these people. Fortunately, seeking God in these seasons as well as other coping tools has improved my experience significantly.
The Experience of Depression and Anxiety
As anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression knows-it is hard to put into words. I truly know how different it can be for different people, because I have experienced it differently with each bout I’ve been through.
Knowing now how much I know about anxiety and depression I can trace anxious behaviors back to my childhood. Nail-biting, worrying about made up scenarios, anxiety about myself, etc. I’m not sure when it all began but it did. As an adult anxiety has become more prevalent at different times in my life as well.
Typically when I have had amplified anxiety it is because multiple stressors are occurring at once. Family difficulties, finding out I had endometriosis, dealing with possible infertility, student debt, moving internationally, living with parents due to finances, having a premature baby, unexplained neurological symptoms, having two jobs and attending school full time while planning a wedding, etc.
The seasons in my life when I have struggled significantly with anxiety is when these triggers occur together. We all deal with stressors in our life, some of them like overwhelming student debt play a huge role in my and my husband’s lives; others, such as working two jobs are temporary situations that are difficult for a time. Dealing with paresthesias affecting the left side of my body and continuing to be followed by a neurologist to monitor for MS is a stressor that has had seasons of significance and seasons of quiet depending on symptom severity and if I feel it is changing.
My Most Helpful Tip for Today
All of this is to say that identifying what the stressors are and if they are long term, short term, changeable, or unchangeable is a good place to start in understanding your current circumstances and what are personal triggers. When I am experiencing anxiety I sometimes can even have memory issues and word finding difficulties along with sensitivity to noise. So, I have learned to write things down more often, and ask for background noise to be turned off when needed. These are two examples of effective strategies for my experience.
However, the most helpful strategy for me has been writing. Over the course of my years of experiencing anxiety and depression I have tried medications, counseling, exercise and relaxation techniques. These are helpful and have a role. I hope to expand on some of these (exercise in particular….thanks physical therapy degree 🙂 ) in posts someday as well. But today I want to discuss why mental health is important to me and introduce my favorite coping strategy. When I started prayer journaling, having an affirmation verse sheet, reading the Bible and taking notes, writing thoughts as they came about my experience, writing about things I enjoyed (cute things my son did….), etc. I learned to appreciate my blessings, I drew closer to God and had a record of my prayers and could see how much my mindset has changed.
Mental Health/Wellness is Important
This is all an introduction to my thoughts and experience with mental health issues. I have personally struggled with it at multiple times in my life in a big way and it has always had a place in the background as well. I have worked with many patients who have chronic pain and anxiety and depression amplify that pain, contribute to hopelessness about that pain and sensitize their nerves (more on that another day as well…).
Mental health and wellness tends to be a taboo topic in our society. We feel that if it is not a visible illness it is not as severe. People may assume that since you seem to function on a daily basis that you are fine. Many struggle and suffer in silence. I had a hard time even explaining how I felt to my husband; let alone explaining it to other family members, or friends, or coworkers. There is an assumed judgment. I hope that people can learn to understand that anxiety and depression manifest themselves differently for the same person as well as differently for each person.
God Gives Hope
I want this blog to talk about mental health (particularly anxiety and depression) partly because of my personal experience but also because God gives hope. God is the only one who can fight this battle with us. I am sure many of us have heard/read the verse Phillipians 4: 6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Prayer is the answer to our anxiety and worries. Thanking God and recognizing our blessings in this crazy world full of hate and sin. God will give us peace and allow us to have a guarded heart and mind from this constant battle.
Of course I believe there are things we can do to help ourselves as well. Promoting physical wellness, using exercise to release natural anti-depressants, relaxation, stretching, essential oils, etc. Praying and meditating on God during these activities can also help us get the most benefit. God gave us these amazing bodies and minds and it is our responsibility to keep them as healthy as possible. I believe in using medication as needed along with more natural choices (especially exercise) to benefit and change your anxiety/depression.
Thanks for joining me on the blog! I hope you continue to do so. I would love to hear your anxiety/depression story if you are willing to share it. Comment below or feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Just remember, thanking God and giving Him our worries can lead to a protection of our hearts and minds.
I am in this journey with you and hope to promote spiritual, physical, and mental wellness with this blog as God guides and allows.
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