The "A" Word
written by: Matt Squibb
Anxiety is something you may have but its not someone you are.
I will come back to the above later.
So Anxiety. Such a prevalent topic especially for people in our generation that is often talked about and then again not talked about enough at the same. It seems to be a growing issue right now so that must equally mean that people are suddenly made more aware of it right??? Well, unfortunately that is not always the case. I want to dive right into it and get into the deep stuff, the truths that come around anxiety and the reasons why it isn’t a life sentence but something that we can all get through.
Story time. Back in 2014, I was at a stage in my life where I was in high school, I was 16 years old and about to take my end of year exams. Church life was going well and family life was good. Yes, I had issues going on but stuff seemed quite normal, well, so I thought. One evening, as I was about to go to sleep, I started feeling really strange, you know that feeling you get when you know something is not right, you don’t know what it is, you can’t put a finger on it but in the back of your mind you know something is off. So that’s where I was at. I got out of bed and then was like pacing outside at like 10:30 at night, I know weird right?! Still feeling weird I got back in bed, and then that’s when it escalated, I felt sick, I was shaking and my heart rate was definitely going so quickly and truth be told, as a 16 year old boy, my mind went straight to the worst: I felt like I was having a heart attack. So this escalated to the point where I had my parents call the paramedics (seems funny now but at the time, I was in a real place). My family definitely calmed me down after all the escalation and God really helped me through it, but I was in a very real place.
This was the moment when I had my first real panic attack!
As a 16 year old guy, I barely knew anything about anxiety, especially not much about what to do when experiencing it. So I had to come to terms with it. I had to come to the realisation that anxiety was exactly what I was going through. Now, it wasn’t one panic attack and then boom I knew exactly what was wrong. It was a process of a few panic attacks and quite a lot of situations where I was feeling anxious about things that normally I would be completely fine with. That is when it started to become very real. That is when anxiety was actually a part of my life and I had to deal with it and confront it, but hey that’s life right? Actually no. The good news is we don’t have to accept anxiety as just part of life, because it is something we can confront and confront we should.
What if I told you that anxiety is something you may have, but it is not someone you are, now or ever. Wait what? Isn’t it crazy the world doesn’t always tell us this? The fact that just because we are struggling with something, doesn’t mean it defines who we are today. Whilst we have anxiety, it is very easy for us to get into a mindset that this is it, this is how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives. If that’s where you are at the moment, I would say first: breathe, you are going to be okay, God’s got you, you can get through this.
Anxiety is a scary and stressful time for any person. Regardless of religion, it can affect us all in so many different ways. However, for me having anxiety as a Christian meant I have Jesus. That doesn’t mean I suddenly just got better, because it didn’t work like that for me. However, it did mean I had Jesus there to cast my anxiety on to my relationship I was able to have Him by my side healing me through my anxiety. It wasn’t always easy but I got through it.
So here are four practical steps to help you get through anxiety:
1. TALK ABOUT IT WITH SOMEONE.
So I am not ashamed to say that my Mom was one of the biggest helps to me when I was having panic attacks and anxious thoughts. I was able to be vulnerable and share because she knew about this kind of stuff. So being able to talk to someone about it helped me so much not only for advice but also for perspective. Never underestimate how much another person in your life can support you through something like anxiety. If there are any guys reading this, its okay to admit you have anxiety. I know guys, it’s not always natural for us to talk about something deep, especially something like anxiety. I get that, however, it will only get worse if you keep it to yourself. That is a lesson that unfortunately so many of us don’t learn when it comes to our mental health. We choose not to include the people in our life in our journey. If that is you then I truly encourage you to do yourself a favour and flipping talk to someone about it, someone you can trust and someone that can support you through it. You shouldn’t have to and don’t have to do this journey on your own. So, talk to someone.
2. CONFRONT AND DON'T IGNORE.
One of the main ways to overcome anxiety is by admitting to yourself that you have anxiety and then declaring you can overcome it. Once you admit it, then you can start working towards getting through it. Once you declare that you can overcome it then you will start believing it. By confronting the issue then you are allowing your mindset to change. Perspective is huge when it comes to anxiety. What I started to learn through the challenges I was facing is that God was with me through it all. He cared about my anxiety. Being able to pray about it made a huge difference for me because I was able to give it to God. He cares about my anxiety and He cares about your situation too. But in order for me to give it to Him, I had to confront and admit it was an issue so that I could pray about it.
3. TAKE IT DAY BY DAY.
You know what I’m really good at doing? Making a difficult situation and turning it into life and death if I don’t resolve it immediately. Can anyone else relate? I find that it’s very easy for us to be dramatic when things are going bad. However, when it comes to anxiety it means we need to just take it one day at time. Spending a little time each day just working on overcoming it. If one day is just a “bad day”, then fine. Try again tomorrow. My point is that not everyday will be perfect, but every step you take forward, is a step closer you are to overcoming it. Each day do something practical that gets you closer to be free from anxiety. Trust me, I am not saying it is a quick fix, I know that its different for every person, but I believe that every day we can make decisions to set us up for a win. That can look different for everyone. One decision for me, was changing my mindset and just gaining perspective. For example, when I would get anxious thoughts, I sometimes just breathed and let God help me relax and clear my head. So what can you do today, that will practically help you get through your anxiety?
4. CAST YOUR ANXIETIES ON JESUS.
The most powerful step is to cast your anxieties on Jesus. In the Bible, in 1 Peter 5:7 it says “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
This is more of a daily practice than a “quick step”. It is a decision we make to let God have all of our anxieties and worries and allow Him to be the one that gives us peace. It is a daily decision that can change your life. Once we realise that God truly cares about what we’re anxious about and wants to take those anxieties away then we can receive His peace through the Holy Spirit. Having God’s peace does not mean that issues and anxieties no longer exist but instead, internally you are at peace and without worry, even though externally things aren’t perfect. Isn’t it amazing that God cares about both our small problems and our big problems. What a loving and caring God that He wants to heal our anxiety! It just shows how truly amazing He is!
I believe that God makes us stronger through the struggles we go through if we work with Him. So today, challenge yourself to make the decision that when anxiety or stress come your way, first give it to God. Pray about it and seek Him. I know it’s not easy (trust me, I get it.) but just remember this truth: He cares about your anxiety and wants to help you.
So if anxiety is something you have or struggle with remember to talk to someone about it and confront it for yourself. Then take each day as it comes by giving your anxieties to God and allowing Him to give you peace.
I hope that you grabbed at least one thing from this blog about anxiety. I hope that by sharing a little bit about my story, you’re able to start the journey of healing. If anything, grab this: Things will get better, you are loved so much by the people around you and by a God that died so you could know His love more. So keep going and remember ….
Anxiety is something you may have but it is not someone you are.