I am not my anxiety

Last night, I had another anxiety attack.  It was triggered by reading the world headlines in the newspaper, but then it just took off from there.  Even my husband trying to talk some reason into my anxiety regarding the aforementioned world headlines didn’t really work.  My logical side knew he was right, but when the anxiety takes over, it takes over everything.  I had a very difficult time eating supper.  We ordered take-out from Baja Fresh, and it took me well over an hour to choke down two tacos.  I ate one, and then decided that I needed to move around a bit, so I went outside and watered our flowers while everyone else finished eating their meal.  I managed to get the second taco down while talking on the phone to a good friend who distracted me from my woes.  You know who you are, friend – Thanks! 🙂

Later in the evening, I mournfully said to my husband how sorry I was that I had this anxiety problem and how sorry I was that he had to deal with me in this way.  He stopped me and said, “I married Emily, and I’ve never been sorry I married you.  Yes, you get anxious, and we’ll deal with it as it comes, but you are not your anxiety.”

I told him that was the most romantic thing he could have possibly said to me.

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I’ve been thinking about that a bit today (even as I try not to overthink!)  My anxiety is something that is a physiological … thing.  It gets worse when I’m tired, and apparently, breastfeeding does a pretty good job of keeping it at bay.  JJ and I both knew that the recurrence of my anxiety was a possible effect of my weaning Curious J.  My anxiety is not just a simple case of failing to trust in God.  Because I know that I DO absolutely trust in him.  I know that it’s only through his help and the blessings he’s given me in my life that I get through these times at all.  I always come make it through these anxiety attacks in one piece, and I give the credit for that to God.

It actually made me feel worse this week, when I posted on my Facebook status that I was having an anxiety attack, and some well-meaning person commented: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7  (I know, easier said than done.)”  That comment got me thinking two things: the first is that I should perhaps be more cautious of the people I friend on Facebook, and secondly that that’s a misuse of that passage.  My pastor-husband confirmed the misuse of the passage to me later.

I DO absolutely trust in God through these difficult times.  But God isn’t a magic genie, who makes all our problems vanish right when we ask him to.  And I certainly don’t feel like I have somehow failed in my Christian walk because I am having anxiety problems.  I believe that it’s just as true to say that God will enable us to experience difficulties in our lives, and in doing so, he will reveal blessings to us that we might never have noticed or appreciated otherwise.  I truly believe that God makes everything work out for good for his children, and you had better believe that I don’t say that easily.  I don’t believe that everything that happens to us IS good, but I believe God makes it all work out FOR our good.

For me, last night’s anxiety attack made me realize once again what a wonderful gift my friends are.  It showed me even more depth to the amazing man I married, and it gave him a chance to show me how deep his love for me can extend.  I was reminded what a precious gift my girls are, who with their giggles and smiles and childish play and silly jokes and, yes, even their little tantrums and pouting moments — all of those serve to take me out of my thoughts and out of myself for a moment and give me something else to focus on, most of it wonderfully distracting.  As a five and a half year old, Lyd can decide on her own to offer up hugs and kisses to me when she can tell I’m not feeling quite myself, and I must say that those love-prompted hugs from my daughter feel … incredible.  Plus, it give me a chance to be proud over witnessing the development of her compassionate heart.

And, my anxiety makes me thankful for my job.  I have this wonderful little part-time job that is almost as easy for me as falling off a log, and yet it also gets me out of my head, allows me to do something I’m good at, and gets me out of the house while providing some extra money for our family.  It is SUCH a blessing for me, and for my whole family!

When it comes right down to it, I am not my anxiety.  It happens, and it is affected by my actions to a degree, but at the same time, like any disease, my anxiety doesn’t define who I am.  I am bigger than my anxiety, and if God sees fit to allow more anxiety attacks to come into my life over the next days and weeks, I know that he will see me through them and will bring blessings to me through them.  I know that God is always looking out for me, and as my husband has said to me (more than once!), everything already is okay.

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One thought on “I am not my anxiety

  1. Good stuff, Em. Good stuff, all of it!

    A well-meaning person once commented to me during a bout with depression: “God will never give us more than we can handle.” That phrase has always spooked me!!!

    Later on, Mr. Granola revealed to me that God DOES give us more than we can handle, and on a regular basis! This is so that we can rely on Him to do the rest that we can’t. THAT made me feel much better 🙂

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