There are so many things I could say on the topic of anxiety and depression.
So many aspects of my journey I could share.
I don't know where you are in your journey. Maybe you're just as outsider looking in on someone who's struggling. Glass all clouded and confusing. Maybe you're in a really dark place right now and this is a God send. That someone else has struggled. Continues to struggle.
A message that gives you permission to be broken. That maybe that's just where God wants you.
I've already written one blog on this mental health journey of mine. You can find it here. In one month and 4 days it will mark one year since I wrote that. Today I sit gladly able to share some insight from a healthy place.
I have anxiety and depression but they do not define me.
They do not define me. Two words that shifted my world and heart. A diagnosis of sorts that changed my outlook on this time on earth.
Two words that are so quick to label yet somehow hard to define.
Below I'm going to answer 3 hard questions that I had about anxiety + depression
1. Is it really even that bad?
"I mean, just get over it right? You're being dramatic."
That's how I felt before having my own struggle. Anxiety and depression run in my family so I was no stranger to it. Maybe it hit too close to home, or maybe I really just was that prideful. To think someone was clearly struggling around me and I had so little compassion and empathy that not only did I not love them, I hurt them. To those people, I am truly sorry.
Flash back to my first true signs of, what I now see as, anxiety. I had been secretly dating someone behind my parent's back in 7th grade. (haha) Mom told me she had lost my trust. (not so funny) I was on my bed, absolutely distraught. How could I do this? How could I not be perfect? It killed me inside.
So much so that I actually had a thought of killing myself. In 7th grade.
With no idea how to execute that or what that thought even was, I dismissed it.
But looking back, I clearly remember thinking "I would literally rather be dead than deal with this right now. I just want to die."
It wasn't that bad. The situation was not that big of a deal, and it would soon pass. My parents had every right to feel like they couldn't trust me. I don't blame them in the slightest, and I want to make that clear.
But I am a perfectionist to my core, and any mistake was absolutely detrimental.
Flash forward to November of 2016. I had just gotten engaged, was living in a basement, decided to quit college, a lot of change all at once.
I was sitting in the car alone, at night, and it hit.
Unable to breathe, unable to think, unable to even be. Patrick felt a nudge by the Spirit and by the grace of God came to the car. I was shaking. Shaken to my core. I dismissed it as a spiritual attack. Some crazy supernatural thing - that hopefully would never happen again.
Thus began a journey of months of panic attacks. Of curling up on the floor in a ball, sobbing. Of holding weapons. Of utter confusion, of irritability, arguments with the ones I love most. Of thinking pure evil thoughts.
"The world is better off without you"
"Just do it. No one will care if you're gone."
If you are thinking these thoughts THEY ARE NOT TRUE.
-- If you would like to talk about these thoughts, I would love to talk and pray over you. Feel free to contact me through this website. --
So yes, it really was that bad. For me and I'm sure for many others. Trust me. I ignored it and denied it and thought it was all in my head. Thought that it would pass - but it did not. I prayed and begged God to change me. For whatever reason at that time, He did not. This brings me to my next question.
2. Why are you on medication?
As I was in the midst of this battle I was introduced to holistic medicine. Living here in Asheville, treating illness with natural remedies is a big thing. I want to say that I am still a string supporter of holistic medicine and this is only my journey. I also want to say that I am by no means a medical professional and again this is only my journey.
So panic attack after panic attack. Lavender essential oil, breathing, yoga, other essential oils. No results. Well I shouldn't say no results. They were great temporarily. In fact I still use these methods of coping to this day. But they weren't fixing the problem. I knew there was a root to it all.
And thus counseling began. Counseling has played at least 50% of the role in my healing process. I highly recommend it to literally everyone. There are so many issues we all have deeply rooted in our sin nature that need uprooting. That God wants to redeem.
I literally said "I will go to counseling everyday for the rest of my life before going on medication." It was the last thing I wanted to do. Put some pill in my body that healed this mind issue I had? Yeah right.
Well, God got ahold of my heart. I decided I would at least go to the doctor and get officially tested for these issues. Even if it was just to satisfy my family.
Sure enough, I took a test and clearly had a chemical imbalance. I was a 2 out of 10 on the depression/anxiety scale. Not a good score. So by some persuading, I said I would try Lexipro. A drug that restores the balance of serotonin to my brain. This shift in serotonin levels can be caused by a major life change (like getting engaged, moving, etc.) It wasn't a forever thing. Your brain can actual create new neurotransmitters and retrain itself to think differently. How crazy is that?!
Sure enough it worked. After only 2 weeks, I felt like myself again! As much as I hated to admit it, that little pill did wonders. God did wonders. To this day I am on Lexipro. I hope to soon get off of it. Even though is it not something I can get addicted to, I prefer life with the least amount of pills as possible :) And that my friends, is why I am on medication.
It is still struggle. I still feel crazy sometimes for having to take this pill. But ultimately, my identity is not found in this pill. It is not found in my diagnosis. It is not found in how holistic I am. It is found in Jesus. Pill or no pill, I am not my anxiety, I am not my depression.
And in heaven, I will not be on a pill.
3. What do I say to someone who is struggling?
It's hard. It's touchy and weird. I've been in that place of having no idea what to say.
So, to you who feels alone, you are not.
To you who feels like you're at rock bottom, there is Light.
To you who is in denial, it's ok to not be ok.
To you who is walking with someone down this path, show grace and be patient.
I think the best thing to say is sometimes nothing. Just sit and be. Say yes, your feelings are valid but not true. Remind them of how loved they are. How valued. Don't just say it, show it. Gently recommend counseling. Be kind, be patient. Listen well. Pray out loud. Speak Jesus' name over them. Breathe with them. Text them you are thinking about them.
You can't save them. As hard as it might be to come to terms with the fact that you cannot fix it, you can't. Ultimately God is the only One who has healed me thus far. Who has revealed my identity.
Who has pruned and pulled weeds from my heart, letting flowers grow.
So be patient, be kind, and pray.
There it is friends. Some more of my journey.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have - I am an open book and would love to talk and be asked the hard questions.
Thanks for sitting with me for a while.
-- talk to you soon --
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