I shared on this week's #TruthTuesday (Follow @captivatingcommunity on Instagram for weekly encouragement and truth!) a little bit about my journey with anxiety. If you've followed this blog or my previous one, you know that anxiety has been a battle of mine for several years.
As I continue this journey with Captivating Community, I want to be as honest and real with you all as I can be. As I've shared in previous blogs or posts, part of finding your people means being vulnerable. It's a scary word, I know, and sometimes it's difficult to know who is trustworthy enough to share information with. I also know that in order to encourage you all to find your people, I have to proactively practice what I preach. So I wanted to continue the conversation from this week's Truth Tuesday and dive a little deeper my anxiety journey.
*If you have not watched this week's Truth Tuesday, I recommend watching it before reading this post. Click here to watch.
As I mentioned in the video, I've probably struggled with anxiety since I was young, but never really knew it until late high school. I distinctly remember a season during my senior year that every day was filled with anxiety: a constant battle in my mind and heart of what to do next.
Without getting into too many details for respect of others, I was dating a guy at the time whom I was very fond of. It was high school, so I naturally thought he was going to be it. I remember one day waking up and just knowing in my heart that it wasn't meant to be. Nothing bad had happened, just felt some clarity. I wrestled with myself and God for so long on why I felt this way because I truly couldn't comprehend it. Over time, I grew extremely anxious because the fear of heartbreak and how to move forward daunted me. My anxiety got so bad that I had many days where I didn't sleep or eat normally, didn't act like myself, and couldn't focus on daily tasks because I was trying to figure out what to do.
Obviously, things ended at some point during this journey, but my anxiety didn't. I moved to college that fall and my first semester was truly horrible. I was healing. I felt lonely. I struggled to fit in. I was anxious about everything because I questioned everything. By the grace of God, He healed my broken heart and allowed it to open up again - partly thanks to my wonderful church community in Athens.
My anxiety subsided for quite some time, but as I went through my undergrad, grad and now young adulthood years, I've learned that it's a battle I'm still working through, some seasons are just more difficult than others - and that's okay.
I could honestly write another 10,000 words relating to stories about my anxiety, but I truly don't want to overwhelm you. Instead, I'm going to share things that have helped and hurt this journey, as well as signs to know if this may be a struggle for you too.
Know your triggers and set boundaries. For people with anxiety, some things trigger those anxious tendencies. The more we know what triggers us, the better we are able to set healthy boundaries. To be clear - there is a difference in setting a healthy boundary and hiding/escaping altogether in retrieval mode.
Sometimes what causes anxiety doesn't seem logical to others, but is to you - and that's okay. Honesty hour for a second: I got a treadmill for Christmas (love it!) because I've become more active in the last year than I ever have before (thanks Covid). One thing I try to do daily is walk and reach a step goal. A treadmill was the perfect gift for me so I would no longer have to walk circles in my house. The only place our treadmill could fit was upstairs, and for whatever reason I was terrified our treadmill would fall through the floor. I was so fixated on the safety of the treadmill that I was scared to use it at first. I was extremely embarrassed to admit my fears to Taylor because it felt illogical. But want to know something? Expressing my anxiety only helped me move forward from it. Taylor, along with several others, affirmed me why I wasn't crazy for having these thoughts, but they also helped me see that everything would be okay.
Take (baby) steps toward combating anxiety. With the treadmill I had two options: never use it or take baby steps to see that it was in fact okay to be on the second floor. To be honest, I was going to pick option one at first, but I knew that would only feed into my anxiety (i.e. setting an unhealthy boundary). Here's what I did: I looked online to see what other companies suggested for treadmills, if there were recommendations/answers about treadmills on second floors, etc. To my surprise, pretty much every answer said yes, it can go on a second floor. Here's where my anxiety continued - I didn't quite believe these online strangers, so I essentially calculated the amount of weight the room could hold (again, feeding into a trigger) and guess what? It would be okay. I also had Taylor walk/run on the treadmill while I stood in our dining room beneath our workout space to find out everything would be fine. While on the outside these steps seem silly, and even now I feel silly for doing it, I took those steps to not hold me back from using an awesome gift and was able to combat that anxiety.
Pray honestly and practice vulnerability. I shared in my video the importance of praying honestly about anxiety. The more you can openly share with the God about what's going on, the easier it will be to work through those anxious tendencies. With community, I know it's so scary to be honest about anxiety, but those people who are true community will be able to consistently encourage you and speak truth in moments of anxiety. Sometimes it can be as simple as sending a text saying "Struggling with anxiety today, need prayer" and sometimes it looks like grabbing a cup of coffee and going deeper.
Know what scripture not only says about anxiety, but also about how Jesus has everything in control. I could probably recite every verse in the Bible that talks about anxiety because I've probably read those verses a thousand times each. Yes, those verses are extremely important - they're in the Bible for a reason and you should know these verses. I think it's equally important to know what scripture says about Jesus having everything in control too. Sometimes people with anxiety hear, "stop worrying" or "it'll be okay" and while those phrases are true, it's often difficult to just stop anxious moments. What helps in those anxious moments is knowing those verses that outline His power, control, and perfect plan.
If necessary, seek professional help. Thankfully, it's becoming less taboo to seek professional help with anxiety (or even other mental health battles). I do encourage spending time in prayer and asking trusted loved ones near you when considering this step, but I also want to you know there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help. In the most anxious seasons of life, I have sought medical help to combat the physical effects of my anxiety. I also have sought (and hope to again) professional counseling to help me learn even better ways to work through anxiety. If your quality of life is less due to anxiety, I strongly recommend taking this step.
I know this post shared a lot into my personal life, and hopefully it didn't scare you. I wanted to share a little more of this journey because it is such a big part of my life and I wanted you to see that I too struggle. If this is a battle that you experience, I want you to know you're not alone. If you don't struggle with anxiety, then you probably struggle with something else, and if there's anything you can take away from this blog it's this: there is power in vulnerability with community.