Anxiety is a complicated mental problem that 40 million adult Americans struggle with daily. When I had my first anxiety attack I didn’t know what was going on. I thought the worst, of course. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of the attack in the dead of night when my mom told me it was anxiety. I told her that I didn’t know why I was scared. That’s the problem with it though. A lot of the time you aren’t even afraid. Most of the time anxiety can be caused by stress, depression, or literally just genetics.
Over the past years of struggling and dealing with anxiety I have learned that it is not my fault that I have it. But that doesn’t stop me from getting mad at myself for skipping out on social events or not answering phone calls because of it.
A lot of people don’t understand anxiety though. When trying to explain it, the only words that come to mind are drowning and fear. People just think you’re just scared and you just have to “man up” when really you can’t control it. It’s something that lurks in the shadows of your inner being and you never know when it’ll jump out at you. Because of this, I wrote an open letter to my anxiety to help others better understand what it’s like.
I don’t actually know if you have a real name like Janice or Linda. For years we’ve just called you Anxiety so that’s what I’m going to call you. I’m not sure where to start but I’d like you to know that I don’t like you. I’m sorry if I have hurt your feelings but for years you have made living a normal life difficult, to say the least.
I don’t know a lot about you. I mean you and your cousin, Depression, only come around when you feel like things in my life might be going well. You’re always hiding somewhere beneath and you’re always too far from my reach. If I could reach you, I’d show you the door, honestly. You’re a monster waiting under my bed for the chance to steal my soul before my very eyes. At least that’s what it feels like. You’re quick, too. I can feel you coming most of the time but you’re fast.
Fear rushed in.
My heart begins to beat and my lungs breath, taking in more air than I thought they could hold. And that’s just the beginning. I feel scared even though I don’t know why and I feel out of control as I gasp for air. The smile I had a second ago is now gone. Every second I am this deep is a second I feel God fading away. I find myself doubting Him because of you, asking Him to renew my faith every time. Since the first night you came into my life I have not been the same. I fear fear.
I find myself asking God to comfort me and Jesus to help me. But I’m drowning in a sea. In my eyes the joy fades away as you take hold. Why wont you just leave me alone. I could be and do so many things but because of you I’m too scared to even try anymore. You, Anxiety, you are strong. The waves are strong.
But there’s something you don’t know. It’s how I conquer you every time. Jesus is stronger. He is much stronger than you. He calms the storm and wipes away ever tear. My shaking ceases and I can breathe once again. Slowly, you are moving out and that’s all I could ask for. One day all that will be left of you is a green lamp and your Princeton sweatshirt and I’m okay with that. I can’t wait for the day that I am no longer drowning in your seas, Anxiety. Jesus has rescued me. Jesus is with me. Whom shall I fear?
God is much greater and much more powerful than you think.
With scripture I have managed to regain control. At least a little bit of control. Trusting in God has helped and that is what I recommend to anyone struggling with it. I’ve spent nights wide awake wishing for something different but through the past year I have regained my joy. Being grateful for the little things has, honestly, helped my anxiety in a rather odd way. Trust in God and read your Bible. That’s what I recommend. Remember who is the most powerful one between the two. Plot twist, it’s not anxiety.