anxiety is a beastly fellow

Here’s a few things you should know about me: its hard for me to say "i love you" to people in my life, big groups of people intimadate me because of the noise, I have a hard time opening up to people, and cliff jumping are not my cup of tea.

What do all these things have in common? They are bi-products of anxiety.

Because of my anxiety I’ve learned to plan ahead, lay out in my mind what i’m anxious about, and give it space. I’ve often had to tell people in my life, “It’s not fair to tell me it will get better or that I can get over it, that’s minimizing my real feelings.” or “You’re not loving me where I’m at.”

My struggle with anxiety has robbed me of a lot of peace and happiness, and I’ve had to end conversations if i’m not feeling okay with it or to let people know that my anxiety stays with me, it doesn’t go way whether I face my fear or not. I sometimes can’t even describe to certain people in my life how constant anxiety is. If i'm afraid of doing something, like going down a water slide, my anxiety will peek before the activity, then once I go down the water slide, i'm still experiencing anxiety instead of relief.

Certain times I’ve struggled with being angry at feeling so anxious but I’ve tried to remember through the years that it’s the path that God has chosen to give me.

This is a very surface level introduction to my personal struggle with anxiety (which i hope to talk about more in the future). But for now, i want to zoom out a bit.

Approximately 40 million American adults — roughly 18% of the population — have an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Although everyone's experience with anxiety is different, there is a few common types of "anxious persons" attitudes.

When you think of a typical anxious person you might think of “reactivity”, (reacting to the external events of life with internal feeling), or they might have a “herding instinct” (people can’t help but follow the crowd instead of their own instincts), and “anxious persons” attitudes are “blame displacement” (we focus on blaming others, but we don’t share our fear of others blaming us).

These some of the common attidudes that someone with anxiety may struggle with. But it is incredibly important to not only focus on the behaviors of anxeity but also how we can combat anxiety, by having a "non-anxious presence.'

Slowing down is one way.

C.S lewis writes, “How you respond to an interruption is who you truly are.” John Mark Comer says, “Hurry is incompatible with love. Instead of filling up your time with the next activity; slow down.” Jesus knew his limits well, He pulled away from the crowd. Time must be properly budgeted for the gathering of inner strength and resolve. In my life, the act of falling asleep is a place to experience slowing down. Turning off my phone, being quiet, and breaking down the things I'm anxious about to process through them.

Another way you can develop a "non-anxious presence" is through “Kolvwia”, which is intense, vulnerable friendship, relationship at a gold standard. When you have a strong support system built up, it's easier to devlop "non-anxious presence.' Becoming more open to friends and family about my anxiety recently has really helped me feel more able to move through my anxiety. For example, removing myself from an overwhelming situation to take a breath.

And finally, the last way to devlop a "non-anxious presence" is indifference, freedom, yielding, or detachment. Living in the mindset of not needing to control the events and circumstances of our lives to live more fully. The easiest way I have found to relinquish control is to make one goal for myself going into a new or difficult situation.

I am co-directing a Christmas play, I had two goals going into the rehearsal. I met one goal and I feel really good about that. The other goal, i wasn't able to acomplish due to circumstances out of my control, but I'm simply moving it to our next rehersal. I am really happy with how the night turned out, I felt my exectations were realistic knowing that the night wouldn't be perfect. This limits my anxiety because focusing on those pre-set goals limits my focus on things i'm normally anxious about (how i look, how i talk, how people precieve me, etc.)

Truly, anxiety at its core is learning to live with God in the hard moments of anxiety and be grateful for the good in your life, despite the anxiety you might feel. Because there’s always good in life and living with anxiety can mask the happy moments.

Anxiety is also learning about yourself, knowing when you need space or when you need to push yourself. And lastly, the greatest lesson I’ve learned (and am still learning) through anxiety is to have patience, with yourself, with others, and with God. Because even though living with anxiety is really frustrating sometimes I choose to grow and gain from this day to day struggle.

dev (your internet bestie)