I’ve mentioned this is a post or two previously, but I’ve struggled with anxiety for a good bit of my life. Recently, it’s gotten worse and has started to make an impact on more than just my own mental health. I’ll rewind a little bit for context…
I was first diagnosed with anxiety my freshman year of highschool. At that time, my anxiety was internal and really only reared its head in overwhelming situations. I would have panic attacks but they would go away and things would go back to normal. Once I went to college, my anxiety decreased and it’s only been within the past couple of years, I would say, that I’ve started struggling again. This time, however, I don’t muscle through the panic attacks. Instead, I avoid the perceived causes of my anxieties altogether. This may sound like a good thing- someone avoiding things that make them uncomfortable- but it isn’t. It’s come down to me avoiding any situation I haven’t been in before. If I don’t know where I’m going to park for an event, I won’t go. If I don’t know what traffic will be like to get somewhere I don’t usually go, I won’t go. Essentially, if I don’t have a baseline to let me know how something may go, I don’t do it. This has snowballed into crippling social anxiety and, quite frankly, it sucks. It sucks for me and it sucks for my friends and my family because I can be a big a fun-sucker.
This year, I want to focus on trying more. I don’t want to say I’ll do something because that risks something going wrong which, for me, is a big thing. I don’t like when things go wrong. I’m the type of person who makes a plan and sticks to it because I know it’s effective and efficient. Trying things, however, implies that something going wrong isn’t a big deal. If you try something and don’t do well or don’t like it then it’s no problem. I want to come at my anxiety with the approach of trying. If Mike wants to get a sitter for Maddie and take us downtown, instead of me saying no (because I’m terrified of traffic and parking and logistics in general), I’ll say yes with the thought that we’re just trying something.
There’s another piece to coping with my anxiety that I need to work on and that is joy. In Philippians, Paul was in prison waiting for execution. I’m sure he was pretty dang anxious. In the midst of that, though, his words to those who are worried were to rejoice. When I was young, the pastor of our church did a sermon on being joyful. I don’t remember the whole thing because I was like 12, but I remember him saying that we should say “rejoice” often because your mouth always ends the word in the shape of a smile. We should rejoice in times of struggle because God is sovereign. We should rejoice because we should know that His plan is best. What better way to cope with anxiety and fear than to remember that I don’t HAVE to be in control because God is? I know some of my readers may not be religious or spiritual, but you don’t have to practice a religion or believe in God in order to trade anxiety for joy and thankfulness.
I don’t think this is going to be easy, by any means. When you are a control freak who gets anxious about anything unknown, it’s hard to let go of that. I am hoping, however, that I can consciously work on not letting my anxieties get the best of me this year.
Questions for you:
- What are some ways you cope with your fear and anxiousness?
- How can you work on your fears more this year?