#MentalHealth: My Truth about Anxiety

Anxiety is a word that I hear used often in daily conversation. There isn’t a day that when I am in conversation, or scrolling social media that the topic of anxiety doesn’t come up.

Anxiety Defined

Anxiety is defined as: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

In psychiatry: “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.”

I’ve shared in the past that I have struggled with anxiety, but I’ve never gone into detail. Today I’d like to change that and share how it has impacted my life these last 5 years.

My History of Mental Health

I was diagnosed with depression as early as 9 years of age. Throughout the years that diagnosis would change and evolve with my experiences. Anxiety was often a dual diagnosis of my depression.

I’ve been on antidepressant medications off and on for the better of 15 years. Throughout that time, anxiety medications were prescribed as well.

I never quite found that any one medication really did the whole trick of  “curing” me. Instead, I’d have periods of “remission” where I would go without anxiety attacks. But in 2014 all of that changed.

Progressively Getting Worse

2014 was a pivotal year in my life for many reasons. I relocated to a new state, I lost a pregnancy, I gained an astronomical amount of weight in a short amount of time and I was adjusting to being a stay at home mom in a new place.

I began to notice that I was experiencing panic attacks, in random moments throughout my day. I was silent about it, not wanting to worry my husband or my family. Fast-forward to 2016; I had given birth, and during the aftermath I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism. I was experiencing panic attacks that were waking me up out of my sleep.

Once I had my thyroidectomy they seemed to subside; but in its place something more gripping came.

Anxiety became Paralyzing

I began to notice that the idea of driving on the highway was giving me an uneasy feeling. The thought of accidents began to play in my mind in an obsessive and compulsive way.

Simple tasks such as going to the grocery store or to Wal-Mart (which literally used to be like my favorite thing) suddenly felt too large of a task for me. I resorted to ordering online more or asking my husband to go into stores in my place. I haven’t stepped foot in a mall since 2014.

I was able to recognize that as my mobility lessened and my pain increased; my anxiety was worsening.

I found that I didn’t want to go out unless I had the comfort of my husband with me. He is a safety net; a presence that seems to mollify the anxiety of having to exist in this body that is betraying me.

I had gradually gone from this confident and self-sufficient person to a weak resemblance of who I once was.

I am Fighting Back

Once the realization set in that I was crumbling; I decided the only way to fight this was to fight this.

Each day, I set a goal for myself that I’m trying to accomplish. I pray, I talk to my husband honestly about how I feel, and I attempt to smash one goal a day. Some days I smash more than one, some days I smash none and some days I smash just the one.

I understand there is no quick fix. Anxiety is an emotional and mental octopus; slowly easing it’s tentacle into every aspect of your life; then squeezing until you cannot breathe, or function anymore.

Anxiety is not a logical experience; it’s anything but. It’s with that understanding that I try to reclaim what is my normal each day.

I’m hopeful

Though there are moments when I feel hopeless; I know that I am anything but. My faith carries me a long way, I keep Revelation 21:3,4 in my mind as I navigate life in this body.

I know the importance of gratitude, the importance of love and support. I have learned the importance of humility repeatedly and that helps me keep focused.

Depression has been a nasty little critter that has infiltrated my life in more than one ways. But every day I get up and see another day is a win for me. And that’s more than I can ask for.

AP Young signature with kiss print.