Monday, January 16, 2017

The War on Panic + Anxiety: My Perspective


The more I have shared openly about struggling with panic + anxiety, the more people have commented, written letters, and shared with me that they, too, are fighting the same fight.   First off, I'm honored that so many of you have shared your stories with me.  Thank you!  Secondly, I'm thinking of continuing to chat on this topic in hopes that...

1) ...more and more of you would know you're not alone.

2) ...in ripping this thing open, and shining some light on the situation, we'll beat the enemy at his own game.

3) ...we can share some ideas and strategies with each other and learn from each others' struggles.  I'm guessing we're better off fighting together!

I almost titled this post "The Battle Against Panic + Anxiety," but quickly remembered how crazy LONG the struggle has seemed - two steps forward, one step backward, good days, hard days, and horrible days when I've felt completely defeated.  Instead, I think it's probably better to look at this whole ordeal as a drawn-out war - filled with many battles, some won, some lost...  But, all the while knowing the overall sure + sound victory is coming, despite some ground lost here and there.

And, speaking of victory...  I am not a victim.  Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of days I feel like a victim to panic.  Many times I feel like the suffering will never leave and that it will be my lot in life.  I feel like I will eventually be utterly defeated and lose my mind to anxiety - until I will no longer be able to care for my family or do ministry or feel joy ever again.

But those are ridiculous and horrible lies from the pit of hell.  The sooner and quicker I can reject them as such, the quicker I can stand my ground - the ground the Lord has given to me.

I am not a victim.  God is for me.  Trouble and hardship and persecution will not separate me from His love.  Though I face fear and death all day long, I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me.

In all of this, I have been reminded and encouraged to let my language reflect this.  Once, in venting a bit, a friend caught me saying, "My anxiety is making it tough..."

My anxiety?  As if I am content in owning the panic?  Embracing it and calling it mine?  Identifying myself with it?  Affirming that it is an integral part of who I am as a person?  Table for two?!

No thank you.

Sure, I struggle with panic, but I will war against it, taking the offensive and believing in ultimate victory and freedom.

Before I end this post, I want to reiterate that I am not writing as someone who has this all figured out.  I know panic and anxiety can take on many forms, have roots in many different things, and can be a completely different and unique experience for every individual.  I'm not sure if what I'm saying will resonate in any way with your personal struggle, but again - just know you're not alone in the war against...  If nothing else, I hope you'll find more courage and space to be vulnerable in sharing your journey - and story - with the world.

And, about courage...  In my life, courage doesn't mean I don't cry and fall down and fail and get really dirty and messy.  Courage isn't super glamourous.  Even if I lose some ground and feel defeated today, it just means I'm committing to try again tomorrow.  I'll try again to choose truth in the next five minutes, and I'll try to stand back up and wield my sword once more.

I know the battle is absolutely exhausting, friends, but it's still worth fighting.  Take courage!
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