Archive for the ‘Anxiety/Depression’ Category
By nighttime I am hanging on by a thread. The cloud of anxiety having grown darker as the day wore on and now my tank is running on empty. How will I make it tomorrow, when I’ve got nothing left tonight? What about work and the appointments and all the rest? It’s hard to see a way. When its dark it’s hard to hold on to hope. Maybe you are there too? With the empty tank? Let’s turn together to the promises that stand when we cannot. These are the lifesavers.
You don’t need to have to have the strength to go on. You just need Him. -Ann Voskamp
Truths to hold on to
- there will be NEW mercies for tomorrow. Me and the Israelites, we are two of a kind. I want to hoard up today’s mercies for tomorrow, you know…just in case there aren’t enough tomorrow. But He promises there will be. New mercies tailored for tomorrow’s day. Cling to the promise of new mercies and do not despair at your empty tank.
- there will be wisdom. Those decisions that need to be made, meetings that need to be attended? how? Well He has just the thing for you: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5) He gives generously. And I think its one of those instances where we don’t get because we don’t ask. Lets ask, because He will give the wisdom that is needed for the day and he wont think less of us for our lacking. Thank you God for grace!
- there will be strength: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10), ”I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13), and “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps 73:26)
Now let us approach the throne of mercy and grace, and our Father to help us believe these truths and rest in them tonight.
She approaches me after the chuch service had finished and lowers her voice.
“What you told me about, a long time ago? The anxiety? Do you still struggle with that?
Why is she asking me this? Why now?
“Well, all week I have been feeling God telling me to pray for you regarding that, and I wanted you to know.”
I nod and say thank you and hug her. She moves on to talk to someone else.
But me? I am replaying her words in my mind. How could she have known? I had not spoken to anyone about it, about the anxiety that had resurfaced this past week. The racing thoughts that suck everything out of me.
And in that moment I knew. I knew all over again that God loved me. So much so that He moved her to pray for me. He was listening to my cries, even when I felt differently. It amazes me, when the God of the Universe so tenderly reaches down to let me know that He knows.
And on the hard days and weeks, giving thanks is all the more important…and when I am freshly aware that I am broken? I can see Him everywhere…
473. god whispering to her to pray for me
474. My mother, on her knees, praying for me
475. Friend who says “I am here”
476. the constant connection with God through prayer…how had I forgotten?
477. Strength to get up, strength to go, strength to do
I took a deep breath and began sharing in this space my struggle with anxiety with the hopes that may be of comfort and encouragement to others who are traveling that road. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Acceptance and Surrender
For a long time I was desperate for answers. For an explanation about why anxiety kept showing up in my life. Maybe if I knew the answer, a solution would follow.
There have been no simple answers in this road.
Is it genetics? Probably. My mother, her sisters, and my grandmother have all suffered with depression. Is it the environment? That is also a possibility. Was it my temperament? Likely. I have naturally a sensitive person. Have been that way for as long as I can remember. Or maybe it is my lack of faith? I believe that also plays a part in the picture. None of us have complete faith in God. Our faith is imperfect, cracked by doubts and fears.
What I have come to realize is that the why is not so important. This is one of my weaknesses, my thorn in the flesh. I am accepting that. That acceptance allows me to surrender this to God. To let Him do with it what He wills whether it be to heal me or to allow me to continue with this thorn. What I know to be true is that He has my life in His hands. He understands the depths of my mind and emotions that I myself cannot comprehend.
Somehow He has used this for good. Because unlike any other aspect of my life, it is this anxiety disorder that continues to take me deeper into my relationship with Christ.
Although the darkest days I have experienced are a few years behind me, this battle is by no means done. These days I am doing okay and when anxiety taps my shoulder I do not fear it as much. I do not feel condemnation because through Christ there is none. I face the anxiety head on because I know with Christ I can conquer it once more.
He can heal me with just one word. Yet if He has allowed this to continue then I can cling to the promise that His grace is enough in my anxiety.
(read part 1 here http://girlplusgrace.com/2012/05/01/the-pesky-thorn-part-1)
The Shame of Weakness
The most difficult aspect of having an anxiety disorder for me is the implications I believed it had on my Christian faith. I remember telling someone once that it would be much simpler to accept that I had a problem if I wasn’t a Christian. I have been a Christian for most of my life and knew the Bible and the 300+ times we are commanded to “fear not”.
I was convinced that my problem was a faith problem and therefore the solution would be to “get” more faith.
So I read my Bible, I fasted, I prayed. I went to see Christian therapists. I read all the Christian books I could find about depression and anxiety which further convinced me that my problem was 100% spiritual. They offered solutions that I tried my best to follow to no avail.
I felt that each time the anxiety returned God was looking down at me, shaking His head and wondering why I couldn’t just trust Him more.
When a cure did not follow I fell into depression, convinced that I had failed God and He therefore would never heal me due to my lack of faith.
The fact that I have degrees in psychology and am a mental health counselor by profession made it worse for me. I just could not come to terms with the fact that I had a mental health problem. Shouldn’t I have the answers? The tools to make this go away? After all, I have all this knowledge about therapy models and mental illness. I should know better!
I wondered about the implications it had on my work. What would people think if they knew?! Me, a therapist, suffering from the same issues that those I help have! I felt more shame.
Everything is Messed Up!
Through my work and my personal experience I have learned this: Every one of us is doing our best to hide the weaknesses we carry. We ALL carry them. We only pretend otherwise. Problems like depression and anxiety are only further evidence of our fallen state. We were not created to get cancer, we were not created to hate, we were not created to die, and we were not created to have depression.
We were created for perfection yet we are far from it.
And the evidence of that can be seen in all aspects of life. Our health, our relationships. Being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from this upside down world and its consequences.
So why have we believed that our mental health would be any different? That because we are Christian we won’t suffer mental illness?
Most of us don’t have any issues accepting that Christians get physically sick. Yet mental or emotional problems? That’s due to lack of faith and we wag our fingers and shake our heads. And in the process we cause great pain to those who are already suffering.
(I hate to end on a somber note but next week I hope to conclude in a more positive one as I continue to share my experience! Hope you’ll come back!)
When I first started to write, I did it to share my experience with an anxiety disorder. But that was too personal, too “depressing”…too vulnerable.
But lately this memory keeps lingering around:
During the hardest of days I had frantically searched online for someone to relate to. If you would have looked at my web search history it would look something like this: “Christian with anxiety”, blog + Christian+ depression, Christians and anxiety disorder and testimony. I wanted to find someone, anyone! who had similar struggles as a Christian.
I found very little.
I have been thinking about others out there, who like me might be typing into their keyboards desperately wanting to find that they aren’t the only ones.
So Ill do my best to not hide behind a mask and share some of my experience for you.
It has been a long battle for me, since the early teens anxiety pops its head up out of nowhere and starts a war in my mind and emotions. I wont bore you with technical information about what generalized anxiety disorder is but suffice to say that it is beyond the everyday normal worrying most people experience. It is a I-cant sleep-I cant-eat struggle to stop the countless thoughts.
During that time I had no idea what was going on with me only that I felt terribly anxious ALL OF THE TIME. Yet with time I felt better and thought for sure this had been some weird teenage thing that I was over!But towards the end of my undergraduate school years it came back with a force.
I worried about everything and anything. Do I have cancer? Am I dying? Are my parents dying? Will I graduate college? How will I find a job? Why dont I have more friends?! I laugh now looking back, but I was not laughing then!
And so I desperately prayed and prayed about this anxiety thing. For more faith. For a cure. A miracle.
I am sitting at my computer editing a picture of my dad I took only days ago. I am busy trying to erase wrinkles and smooth out his face when a knot builds in my throat. He is old, my father. And I want to make him young again, because that way I know he will stay. That I have much more time. That death is a very distant thing that will happen years and years from now.
That was the security blanket I clung too when I was a child. When I would make myself sick thinking about losing either of my parents. I would comfort myself with denial: “what I fear wont happen“. And when I reached out to mom she would say the same: “dont you worry, we arent going anywhere“.
And I would rest in that for awhile.
But now I know better. That no one is staying forever.
I search wildly to comfort the anxieties of a little girl that are still very much alive in the mind of a grown woman. I dont want to think about it but my mind has always had a way of taking fleeting thoughts and clinging to them.
The old tricks just wont do and I can no longer deny it: loss is a part of life.
But can I trust God with this? With my worst fears? I had thought He would have made them go away by now. Yet in the past years I have began to understand this: that He is with me IN my fear.
Though I am scared, I find my security in the knowledge that God is with me. That I am known completely by Him and when those feared times come, He will walk me through them.
I know that loss will arrive in many forms in my life and that scares me. I wish I could write that I am all courage and faith and trust. But I am not. Maybe one day? Until then there is God and He is bigger than my worst fears.
It’s been a prayer request of mine for years. Since I was 22 to be exact. A few years ago I told God (in a very nice way) that I was going to wait for Him to give me direction as to what I should do in this situation. And I waited. Or so I thought.
Truthfully though, praying about this unanswered request is painful for me. It brings up fears and memories and unbelief in me. So I don’t. I say quick “remember my request” prayers and move on. I avoid seriously praying about it unless circumstances make me desperate enough. Should I be surprised then that there is no answer? How could there be, if I am not listening?
I decided to face the fears, the pain that comes when I bring this prayer up to God. And so I prayed. Told God I was trusting Him to show up and guide me and I finished with up with “your will be done” and everything. It all felt very trusting of me.
Two minutes later and I am on my laptop “googling” possible solutions to my problem. Three pages in to my search results and I can feel the anxiety gripping me. How will God do this?! Look at all the strikes against me! What if He decides to answer it this way or that way? How would I cope? I can’t go through this again!
Hmmm. Not good.
I make a decision then. No Google. No “helping” God answer my prayer. Instead, only prayer. And waiting. I know the time for action on my part will come. But for this season, I need to be still and know that He is God. To listen for His voice, which I crave so desperately.
Promises I’m holding on to:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
2012 is here and with it comes the promise of new mercies from God. This truth fills me with hope… yet I also know that there is hard work to be done and changes that I need to make.
Maybe this is a “me” thing but December often leaves me in a not-so-great place come January. The changes in routine that come from days off, celebrations, and other things cause me to feel disoriented when January begins and life returns to its normal pace.
I can get a bit melancholy.
I also feel far from God. Far because if I am honest in the busyness of December I failed to leave room for quality when it came to my time with Him.
I need to clean up house.
Like when all the guests leave after a party and you need to return the house to its original state. This is why I am setting aside the first 21 days of the year to take out some distractions in my every day life and focus more fully on God. A type of fast but with eating .
I wont share what things I am fasting from because I feel a little silly about them and would only make sense to me. Nonetheless, I am exited! A good friend will be joining along doing a Daniel fast.
I hope these 21 days will also bring more posts since I will hopefully have more time!
And since it is Monday I am thanking God for the blessings of the past week…
405. days off to relax406. great uncle’s laughter407. hope408. rushing in 2012 with family409. the knowledge that God is with me each step in 2012410. celebrating mom’s birthday411. cool weather
I jolted awake and looked at the clock. 6:00 am, 1 more hour of sleep left. I had gone to sleep with that long forgotten feeling in the pit of my stomach. An ache for something more. I’d drifted off to sleep with words of prayer. Now I woke up from a dream I couldn’t remember except this: a piece of paper with Lamentations 3:23 and Psalm 91 written on them.
Ive prayed before that somehow God would “speak” to me through dreams but it hasnt actually happened. Not certain if he does that sort of thing anymore. This dream with the two Bible passages, I dont know if it was God speaking to me or not but nonetheless I needed His truth that morning so when the alarm went off at 7 I reached for the Bible.
In Lamentations I found this promise: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
And in Psalms this: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” ‘
The new mercies part got to me. It’s one of my favorite verses.
I thought about what that promise means. Yesterday’s mercies are in the past, today God gives a fresh dose of His blessings. And its plural. More than one mercy! The Lord knows I need all of them.
He is always faithful, so I know I can count on this promise. So I grab the fresh just-for-today mercies and get out of bed, knowing I don’t go alone.
Whether it was a God sent dream or not, I don’t know but I’m glad it reminded me of God’s beautiful promises.
Counting the ways God shows me his love
247. blessed by blog post
248. that ache that brings me to my knees before Him
249. call from a friend
250. series on Insecurity
251. scripture tucked in my memory
252. restful sleep
253. new mercies in the morning
254. and dream that reminded me of this
255. her happy about my $6 gift
256. bowling game
257. smooth sailing with her
258. his smile when I went to visit
259. that his pain is over before the 6 mo the doctor’s estimated
260. death reminding me that this is all temporary
261. and filling me with hope and longing for my eternal home
262. the blessing of being born in this free country
263. sun out; no umbrella needed
264. lunch paid by a stranger
265. appointment made
266. family of ducks crossing the road
267. 9 gathered to pray
268. being able to help even 1 struggling
269. movie night with mutants
270. packages in the mail
271. home after 8 hours of work
A few good readings from those who have traveled the road of depression and anxiety.
- Kamakize at my Back
- Encouragement from Charles Spurgeon’s life. Written for pastors but so helpful to me
- The Journey
- Martin Luther
- Kill the Spider
- from Ann Voskamp, here and here
I pray you find encouragement in these links.