I live with extreme anxiety. Almost every day I encounter some kind of tragedy. My kids get injured, my husband dies in a car accident, my home is broken into, or I die suddenly from some freak accident.
No, this doesn’t actually happen, but this is what it’s like to live with anxiety….In case you've ever wondered... this is what it's like to live with anxiety. #mentalhealth #anxiety #mentalillness Click To Tweet
Living with anxiety
Today everything fell into place for me to take a shower. When my kids are busy, and I can steal a few minutes to clean up, I seize that opportunity. After all, I may not get another chance to shower for a few more days.
I left snacks out for the girls and told them I was going to wash up. Their little eyes barely moved from the television screen as they nodded with understanding.
I ran upstairs and stripped off my clothes and stepped into the shower.
No sooner did I lather my hair with shampoo, my mind started to run wild.
Did I lock the door when they came in from playing in the yard? What if the door is unlocked? And then someone comes into the house? What if someone kidnaps my kids or worse yet, hurts them? The shower’s so loud; I would be clueless if anything was happening downstairs.
I stepped out of the shower with my hair full of suds and wrapped a towel around myself.
The kids looked briefly stunned as their sopping wet mom came down the stairs to check the front door.
It was locked… of course it was.
I briefly direct my kids that if anyone rings the doorbell, they are NOT to answer it. They give a nod. I make them repeat my instructions and then trudge back upstairs. Then I step back into the shower to rinse the soap out of my hair, relieved that I didn’t have to think about the door anymore.
No sooner does the water hit my head my mind starts to wander again.
What if one of the girls chokes on their snack? I briefly ponder the crackers I gave them and told myself that one of them would certainly come running up the stairs in a panic if someone was choking. Or would they? They’re so absorbed in their show, would either of them even realize something was wrong with the other one? I shake the thought from my head and convince myself that they will be okay.
Then I lift my leg onto the edge of the tub and start to shave. I imagine losing my balance and falling in the shower.
What if I slip, hit my head, and die? What would my girls do? Panic sets in.
I can’t let my children discover the body of their mom! I begin to cry thinking of my girls growing up without a mom. I’m crushed by the thought of missing any of their lives… graduation, marriage, and grandchildren; I don’t want to miss one second of it.
Suddenly I stop.
What am I doing?!
Friends, I struggle with anxiety. Every day is a battle to stay grounded and not let scenarios, like the ones I just shared, take over my days.
Anxiety is a struggle. It is an every day, win or lose struggle.
My emotions are heightened by the fact that I’m a Christian. I wrestle with my mind silently because I have this perception that others would judge me harshly. I fear that others may perceive my walk with God as flawed or that I’m a failure because, God heals, right? Moreover, I feel like how can I tell others about Jesus if I’m tormented by fleeting thoughts of injury, death, and loss? I feel like an outsider in my spiritual community because I have a mental illness.
I HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS
Yes, I have a mental illness. It’s taken me a long time to write those words.
I’ve shared about my battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, but I’ve been frightened to tell others about the anxiety I deal with. Why? Because I already feel alone in my illness.
I’ve tried medication, and it made me feel worse. Thus, the alternative is that I have to approach the anxiety holistically. So I swim and drown, I sink and float, and I soar and plummet through my days.
STRATEGIES TO MANAGE ANXIETY
I have strategies… an arsenal to fight against the thoughts that sometimes take over my head.
My main strategies are that I read my Bible, I pray and sing worship songs. If my schedule gets busy, and I’m not spending as much time with the Lord, I can immediately feel the anxiety climb. So at a minimum, I try to spend time with God first thing in the morning, after lunch, and near the end of the day.
I avoid watching or reading the news and I try to fill myself with stories that are joyful and uplifting rather than frightening or sad.
Also, I try to eat healthy, I exercise, and I write. If I’m mindful of what I do with my spare time, I can fill my mind with healthy thoughts as opposed to unhealthy ones.
I do what I can to manage the beast in my brain.
Yes, I can go a few days with just the occasional frightening thought, but when I’m not taking care of myself, the anxiety crawls back and seems to be ten times worse.
I haven’t been taking care of myself lately. My recent anxiety attack showed me that I have to reset… and like anything else I do, plan for wellness.
This is a battle. This is a journey.
While I hold onto the hope for healing, I pray that one day the war will be over, and peace will settle in my heart and mind.
Update. My doctor asked me if I wanted to try anxiety medication. I thought I would give it a try and after a couple months, I felt amazing. I can’t believe I lived in this tortured state for so long and truly wish I had sought out medications earlier. If you’re struggling, talk to your doctor. It may take time to find the right medication and dosage but it really is worth it.
I am right there with you. I struggle with anxiety and depression, so I often get caught up in the similar scenarios that play out in my head. I have them daily, some days are full of them, others it’s only 1 or 2. It can be paralyzing and terrifying, but we are not alone. I am lucky to have an outlet, like blogging, friends who understand, like you, and a wonderfully supportive husband! Thanks for sharing more of your story, my friend!
It’s funny how when you’re dealing with these emotions, you can feel so alone but now that I’ve put it out there, I’m hearing many others fight anxiety.
Thanks for sharing and for your kind words Echo. <3
I also suffer from anxiety and depression so I can relate to this post. While I’m on medication for both of them, sometimes my mind wanders so much that it’s like “enough already”. There are days when I don’t get out of bed or go outdoors because it’s so stressful and there are days when things are good and I’m all bright and bubbly. Today is one of those days where I have a class in a few hours but I’m already thinking of ways not to go because I’m in that frame of mind of not wanting to be around anyone. The one thing I don’t want to hear is “you’ll be ok”. I’ll be here cheering you on and hoping it gets better “eventually” just like I want for myself.
Thank you, Amanda for sharing a glimpse of your story here.
I had such a frightening experience with the medication, that it’s really not an option for me. I’ll continue to pray and take care of myself too.
Praying for you as I post this comment. <3
Aw, Jennifer, while I don’t suffer from anxiety myself, my own grandmother did and you are right it is battle and journey for sure. I can’t thank you enough for being so very brave and courageous to share your battle and journey here. Seriously, you are a true hero to me in more ways than one. Huge hugs and sending you all a ton of love, too! xoxo <3
It’s such a battle Janine… partially because mental illness is so misunderstood, so often the journey feels solitary.
Thank you for your kind and supportive words my friend. <3
I do struggle with anxiety at times. I try to take deep breaths and relax. My son is dealing with this as well.
I do hope things get better for you.
Mindful breathing is so important! It really helps us focus on something other than our anxious thoughts.
As a wife and mom, I find it so much harder not to play the what-if game in my head. It can be a struggle.
I have a very close friend who struggles with anxiety like yours to the point of needing medication and she is like you, where it is making her feel much worse from the side effects. I don’t know how to help her or encourage her. But I want to! If you have any tips /or ideas on that I would love it! Maybe in another post or comments?
I myself, am struggling. However, as I shared in my post, I have some strategies that really help. Time with God and self-care make a world of difference.
Encouraging or providing ways for your friend to take care of herself is key. Can you go to a Bible study or an exercise class together?
There have been some additional comments and recommendations here that I’ll be looking into as well. A book entitled, Calm My Anxious Heart” and an A-Z scripture post that another blogger shared.
Is that what that’s called? Anxiety? I had no idea. I must have it too, but didn’t realize it. I usually have wild, crazy thoughts at night, especially if my husband is gone for work. I even wake up in the night screaming and see an outline of a person by my bed. It’s a horrible way to live life, but maybe I better get help. I am so glad you shared your experience, Jennifer. :)
Oh Charlee, I’m sorry you’re experiencing this as well. Yes, it might be a good idea to see someone. Like I said, medication didn’t work for me but it may help with you! Regardless, it’s good to talk to a doctor about what you’re going through.
Blessings and prayers for you as I publish this comment. <3
you described it so vividly! I know there are a lot of us with a little bit of an anxiety issue, but to be inside the head of someone with a full blown condition is quite confronting! Take care of yourself and there’s no point saying “don’t worry so much” because you will anyway – just keep reminding yourself that God is bigger than your worries and he will see you through. x
Yes, God is bigger than what I’m going through and I’m so thankful that I have Him.
Thank you for your encouragement.
I hear you. A lot.
I do it holistically too, and it’s a lot of ranges.
My anxiety isn’t racing thoughts, though. It’s more bodily memory and symptoms. It’s so strange. I asked my therapist, “But is this even anxiety?” And she assured me it is.
It’s so weird.
I have bodily memories as well… it’s really strange and hard to explain.
Thanks for sharing my friend. <3
Bodily memories? I am intrigued, I am not sure I know how that works. I think our bodies can definitely resurface past stress how does it work for you 2?
I understand this so very much, my friend. SO very much. It can truly be agonizing. I have suffered from Anxiety all my life… and I still do- daily.
I tried several medications, when I turned 40 and it was spiraling out of control with hormonal issues and young sick babies. I had to do something.
It took me four tries to find a medicine that helped. I don’t know if you tried many, but I am SO grateful I stuck it out and found what I needed. The last 8 years have been the best years of my life. I give credit to the meds.
I was SUCH a mess about trying them… that’s why it took me so long to even consider it!
I still struggle- just as you shared here- and even worse at times. It is paralyzing to me sometimes. Literally. Praying, breathing, taking many time outs is a necessity for me to manage it ALONG with my meds!
I love your honesty here. I want you to know you are NOT ALONE at all. You never need worry about judgment from Christians. Good Lord if you do, THAT is not a true reflection of GRACE. How many Christians do you know who struggle? Period? We ALL struggle with something! It is IN those struggles that we grow closer to the Hope and Love and Mercy of Christ.
Have you ever read “Calm my Anxious Heart.” ?? Get it. I’ve read it several times and sent it to many friends. Linda Dillow I believe. It’s been a while since I looked at it.
If you ever ever ever need to talk… I’m here.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share here Chris!
I so appreciate the book recommendation. I was able to borrow it in ebook form from my library and I’m already a chapter in. Good stuff there.
Medication really isn’t an option for me. I had a horrible experience and even my physician is hesitant to try anything else.
Thank you once again… your words, encouragement, and prayers mean more than I can express.
Blessings to you my friend.
I think it’s so important to talk openly about mental health issues, and you my friend are brave to share your story. It’s not easy to admit that you have anxiety, depression, or any of the other diagnosis’ that fall under the mental health category. We still have so far to go in regards to this topic and the more people open up about it the better. I have anxiety but it presents itself differently, mine is more situational and I have panic attacks. People don’t understand and tell me that ‘it’s all in my head’ but it is so very real and it presents itself in a physical manner.
I’m sorry that your anxiety is such a daily struggle, know you’re not alone and so many others are going through this too. You writing about it is going to make at least one person feel less alone.
Mental health issues are often misunderstood. It’s hard to talk about but the more we dialogue, the more awareness people will have.
I have panic attacks as well and anxiety sometimes is situational for me. I see something or have a “familiar” feeling and start to panic. It’s horrible.
Thank you for your encouragement and for sharing your experiences as well.
Jennifer, I get it – completely. I also have the mental disorder of extreme anxiety & it has taken me several months in a graduate school clinical counseling program to even utter those words. My weak and weary heart was too anxious to admit my anxiety! I have the same thoughts about my husband dying on his way to work, or my mom tripping and falling, or a best friend being diagnosed with some grave disease. It seems endless.
I have some serious issues with trust. And this is where God is working in my heart. Thanks so much for being honest & open & writing so beautifully about something MANY need to read about. It’s so important to know we’re not alone. <3
P.S. I just wrote a post with A-Z verses for anxiety. So God-ordained that it is the post that shows up in the comments. :)
I can’t tell you how much your comment blessed me. Then I went to your A-Z post and was blown away. I was just thinking I need to assemble a list of scriptures to combat anxiety. You’ve done that beautifully for me.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts about anxiety.
Praying for you as I reply to your comment. <3
Thank you so much for sharing your struggles with us, Jennifer. I know it’s hard to open up about something so personal and so deep. I can’t say that I’m right there with you, but I can tell you that I struggle in other ways. Those are great tips with learning to cope – like reading your Bible and exercising. I hope someone with anxiety stumbles across this post and knows that he/she is not alone.
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Meg. I’m learning every day and hopefully one day this anxiety thing will be far behind me.
Jennifer I hope this post touches so many lives. Both my mom and grandma have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It’s paralyzing. I’m so sorry that you have it in your daily life, but am glad that you have found ways to try to cope with it and work through it. You are so brave for sharing your story. We don’t talk enough about mental illness in our society.
P.S. You could also look into essential oils to help manage it. I know of a few ladies on my team that use them for anxiety. Just a thought.
It is indeed paralysing Tiffany but I keep finding ways to lessen the attacks.
Now as for essential oils, I use lavender but is there any other oils you recommend to help with anxiety?
Essential Oils: Valor on the back of your neck, Joy over your heart, and Stress Away applied to wrists
Thank you Jonica! I will look into those asap. I appreciate you taking the time to share.
You are not alone. I have a friend who suffers from anxiety and I’m a school counselor so I see a lot of other things as well. Please know that you are not alone and that talking to someone may be all you need since meds affect you negatively. Be blessed!
Thanks Lowanda, I occasionally get counselling but it’s not something regular due to financial reasons. I just need to be more mindful and intentional about taking care of myself… I do a lot better when I’m nurturing my mind and body with good things.
I deal with anxiety as well. I had my first panic attack when my first baby was 4 months old. I was at my in laws and they called 911 because I was sure I was dying. I had physical symptoms like racing heart, chest pain, shaking, losing feeling in my fingers and toes and being cold. After the paramedics showed up and assured me my heart was fine and told me I was having a panic attack I got better. They said they often get called for the first one.
Since then I have had more, and each one seems less powerful. There have been tearful phone calls to my husband where I say, “I KNOW I’m not about to die, but it sure feels like it!” I also have been controlling my anxiety without medication. Worship music is important. I try to listen to it everyday. I avoid the news (not that I have the opportunity to watch it anyway) as much as I can. This often results in me feeling clueless when friends and family talk about certain events but hey, I’m happy, and if I really want to know about it, I can look it up. It also helps that I’m no longer working outside the home. When I get the attacks, I try to find a quiet spot (I turn on whatever show my kids want), breathe and remind myself that it’s just a panic attack, nothing scary is happening, and the doctor’s have said my health is great and slowly I can relax.
Thanks for sharing.
Oh wow, it’s amazing how similar and yet how different our experiences can be.
I feel clueless when it comes to current events… but it’s a self-preservation thing. My husband usually “catches me up” on the essentials if we’re going to get together with friends or family just so I’m not totally out of the loop. His news “reports” are entertaining and he can deliver even the most crushing of news in a delicate way.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with anxiety. I pray that your comment blesses someone who is also struggling.
Praying for you now as I post this comment. <3
I just learned about your site and this blog hop from Chris Carter’s blog, and I’m so glad I did. I have never been diagnosed nor taken any meds, but I could completely relate to everything you described here. I’m absolutely paralyzed with fear sometimes, especially when it comes to something happening to my children. Yes, I battle that same guilt about the fact that I should be trusting more. I’m a Christian after all. I need to set an example right? Oh wow, our minds sure can back us into a dark corner sometimes. Thank you for sharing your struggles here. It will resonate with many.
Thank you for stopping by Julie… I truly appreciate your visit.
Yes, my mind takes me to very dark places and it’s so hard to share because it feels like I’m wronging God or flawed. I know that’s incorrect. I know He loves me just as I am but I really struggle with that mindset that I am to hide and be ashamed of the way anxiety pans out in my mind.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – I’m glad we were able to meet (and I don’t usually share things this “dark” – it’s just a reality of my life and I felt I couldn’t hide it anymore – sometimes writing heals).
Blessings to you.
Hi Jennifer! It takes a lot to share such personal information, especially in this day and age of ‘self-sufficiency’.
I know exactly what you are talking about. I was also in your same predicament, and it drove me to doubt myself and wonder what the heck was going on with me. A lot of tears.
I found out I had a magnesium deficiency, and taking supplements have taken a lot of the circling thoughts away. But they are there sometimes… I’m glad you have found strategies that have worked for you, while I’m sorry that meds didn’t help. God give you His peace always, and knowledge that you are in His hands.
Hmmm, that’s an interesting point about the magnesium. I should look into that.
I’m so thankful I have the Lord. I couldn’t possibly manage without His strength and grace.
Blessings to you as well my friend.
My brave and beautiful friend! Here you go again, sharing to help others. I am so sorry that this is part of your personal struggles. I know that God gives us what we can handle, even if it doesn’t feel that way. I am proud of you for the strength, focus and determination you are showing in tackling this very real struggle in your life. Hugs!
I pray that this post and my experiences help someone else. It’s a struggle, but the Lord is seeing me through it.
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Jen.
I understand how you feel. As a mom, I play the what-if game all the time and that notion that you’re always being judged–that sticks with me too. While I don’t suffer from anxiety myself, I know a few people that do. Their efforts to keep their attacks at bay are astounding, and I admire them (as do I do you) in keeping their control; in not letting their illness define them, or control them.
You’re lucky that you have great support out there–whether it’d be through the Bible or just your family, every bit of it helps. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. I know we’re not in close proximity to each other, but if there’s anything you need, I’m here for you :)
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words, Maria. I wish you were closer too – I would totally take you up on that hug.
I cope and strive – one day I’ll be healed… I just know it!
Such a brave and important post Jennifer, sharing your fears and your journey will help others, I am sure. I am so sorry that you have to deal with this, and I wish there was something useful that I could say to help x
I pray that my words and experience will touch and help someone else who is struggling with anxiety.
Thank you for your kind and compassionate words Sara.
Hugs, my brave friend. Each scenario can lead to 5 more in your head, making it a nasty whirlwind and a bottomless sink hole.
I was so glad to read that you know at least one of your triggers. Thank you for sharing and bringing awareness.
Yes, it’s always helpful to know what triggers it.
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Sarah.
Awesome honesty! I have struggled with depression, anxiety and not a little paranoia for decades, and felt a ‘failure’ as a Christian. I too avoid the news- and usually facebook, as it is too much for me. Actually, people in general! But I have recently been diagnosed with pyrrole disorder, (and an MTHFR gene polymorphism – which means I don’t create dopamine, melatonin, serotonin, GABA- all those hormones that really help!) and most of the symptoms for pyrroles include depression and anxiety. I am about to start a high dose personalized medication- all natural- (as mostly pyrroles prevents you from using zinc and B vitamins) and am told to expect great results as levels normalize. Anyway, I know I was always looking for something natural that would help me (alongside much prayer!) so I felt I had to share it with you as an option as most people haven’t heard of it.
Much love and Gods healing over you xx
I appreciate you sharing your experience and insights Louise… it means so much. I haven’t heard of any of these things you’ve mentioned – so thank you!
God bless you and I’m praying for you as I post this comment.
Sorry to hear about your battle with anxiety. It’s not nice and can make what should be the simplest things difficult. Your description was spot on; it can be a constant and unrelenting battle that feels like balancing on a knife edge.
I hope you come out of this episode and start to feel less edgy soon.
Thank you Debbie.
Usually when I take better care of myself the anxiety isn’t as intense. I’ve been doing a lot of self-care lately and I already feel a but lighter.
This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. It is real. It is honest. And it is full of hope because you are a great mom and making a tremendous impact on the lives of others. Anxiety is not winning in your life, friend; TRUTH is!! I know you struggle with anxiety but I hope you see the victory you are living. I love you and am so thankful for your example. Praise God for crossing our paths!
I’m delighted you enjoyed this Arabah. It has been on my heart for a while but I’ve been so fearful to share. I pray that it helps others and that it shines the light on anxiety and mental illness.
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. They truly mean so much. I feel so blessed to know you, my sister in Christ.
You must have heard ‘killing me softly’ by Fugees. That’s how I felt reading your post. The same crazy thoughts always creep into my mind at the most unlikely times. Times when I am caught doing something. I am struggling too because I am worried I will not trust them and kill their instincts because I swoop in and steer them away from any possible danger even before any threat is there.
This article has described me for the past 22 years! Tears rolling down my cheeks as this is the first time someone other than me has described literally what goes through my head. I have never been able to vocalize these words but someone out there understand. Now how to fix it ???
I’m sorry to hear you suffer like I have. But there is hope! The first step… talk to a professional about it. Sending you much love and strength.