I’m breaking away from my usual writing to talk a minute about mental health. I see all kinds of memes and well-shared posts talking about erasing the stigma around mental health and moms taking care of themselves.
But they’re all impersonal. Not many people open up and share their own struggles. So, feeling led by the Spirit, I’m sharing.
I was diagnosed with anxiety a number of years ago. I had been treated for depression in my early 20s, but looking back, I think it was anxiety and I didn’t know what to call it. I’m not down, I’m worried. About everything. I’ve been a professional worrier all my life. But I’ve been treated for anxiety for the past few years.
Currently I take a daily medication that is supposed to help people with anxiety, depression, OCD and the like. And just recently, I began seeing a counselor to work through my feelings and help me learn to cope when I feel the anxiety take over.
My anxiety manifests two ways. The most common is stomach pain and nausea. I tell people I’m a sympathy puker, but really it’s my anxiety going into overdrive. Lately the stomach pains have been very intense and I’m unable to function – hence now seeing the counselor.
The other manifestation is anger. This one is more dangerous. This happens especially when we’re running late for something. I can’t stand to be late. I sweat and I panic, and I yell at my family. Also something I need help with controlling and I’m hoping the counselor can help me.
A few weeks ago my youngest child ate something that didn’t agree with his tummy and he threw up. He was fine after that. I took another child to an activity, leaving my husband home with the other kids. I texted him when we got to our destination, asking how everyone was. No reply. I called. No answer. After 30 minutes, I was in full panic mode. I literally thought either my child was in an ambulance or the house had burned down.
I was able to tell myself I was being unreasonable, but when the panic starts, it is hard to stop. I was near tears, ready to pull my child out of his activity and rush home when my husband finally called me and told me I was being silly. I knew I was, but I couldn’t help it. That’s anxiety.
Some people say I should just pray it away. I wish I could. I can’t pray anxiety away any more than you can pray away diabetes. Diabetics need insulin so their body will work properly. People with anxiety and other mental health disorders also use medication to help their brains and bodies function normally. I’m so thankful God gave someone the idea for medication! It’s been so helpful for me.
Others don’t understand anxiety. I get it. You don’t understand something unless you deal with it. Like food allergies. Or limb differences. It’s hard to comprehend unless you experience it up close and personal. My mother, who is amazing, doesn’t understand anxiety. But it’s hard to explain that I can’t just decide to not panic. When my husband wasn’t responding to me, I knew I was being unreasonable, but I was still sure I’d come home to everyone being gone.
Mental health may be hard to talk about because it’s invisible. I look normal on the surface, but my mind sometimes needs help working properly. That’s okay. I love who God has designed me to be. I feel He has allowed me to go through this so I can be an extended hand for someone else who feel like they’re drowning in anxiety or depression.
I do hope that God will bring me through this one day, but I know He may not. I still strive to be happy – and I am most of the time. I hope in Him daily and look to the Lord for all my needs.
If you ever need help, please feel free to reach out. I’ll pray with you, I’ll help you find resources in your area.
Remember – God loves you just as you are.