I've dealt with anxiety for as long as I can recall.
In high school, I sometimes spent entire school days doing my best to slow my breathing, slow my heart rate. Most days I was able to make it through the day, to force a smile, and to hide the panicked feeling from those aroun dme. There were a few days, though, that resulted in my going to the nurses office and explaining that I was in the midst of a panic attack. At first, no one knew what to make of my ability to explain what was happening and wondered if it was my trying to manuever my way out of school for the day.
I have always been aware of my emotions, of how my body reacts to different situations. But I have never been able to stop my body from reacting or my emotions from taking over all aspects of my life.
I still haven't mastered the art of keeping my emotions at bay at all times. In fact, as I have gotten older and learned how to better deal with life (sometimes), it has become harder to push my emotions to the side, to hide how I am really feeling.
I have several different theories for why this is. One of the biggest and most prominent theories is that as exhausting as being upset/depressed/angry is, it is that much more exhausting to pretend to not be those things. My life is harder when everything is bottled up and shoved to the back of the closet. It might be easier for others to not see me upset, but my concern is not for others when it comes to emotions. My concern is for me and for my family.
My anxiety has slowly begun to creep back into my life. I know the root of it: insecurity.
I think insecurity has been the root of just about everything outside of happiness and joy. Insecurity creeps in and breeds negative emotions. It breeds heartbreak. It breeds anxiety.
I'm trying to battle the insecurity as much as I can. I know I am not the commander of this battle; that would be God's role. And I am grateful that He is the commander. If I were to lead myself into battle, I would likely not last more than five minutes.
Reading through So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore has helped. Spending four to five days at the gym has helped. Eating food that is healthy and not full of grease and fat has helped. Recognizing that insecurities exist has helped.
It's still there, lurking and waiting to attack, but I am finding weapons I didn't know I had, weapons that strengthen my ability to fight and strengthen my sense of self.
This morning, for example, I woke with a heavy heart. I hadn't slept through the night due to my two dogs wanting to cuddle and then pushing me away with their paws. I had also been plagued with worry over finances, over job security, over all the uncertainties in life. And each time I woke with worry, I prayed. The anxiety subsided enough to allow me to fall back asleep for a few hours; I would wake up later in the night with the same worries.
My alarm was set for 5:30am this morning, but after a fitful night of sleep, I knew my body was not prepared to run a mile on the elliptical or row for two miles. I chose an extra hour of prayer and sleep followed by taking my time to get ready for work and then taking ten minutes out to read my Bible before spending my thirty minute drive to work in prayer.
So much freedom exists in the thought that this world is not the end, that this world is not what matters. So much freedom exists in remembering that I am not in control, in remembering that none of this is up to me. I forget these lessons at times, but Jesus always reminds me of these things when I need Him to most.
It's taken most of the morning to battle my anxiety and to battle the assault of insecurity. But I am feeling stronger. I am clinging to the fact that there is no security in this world. There never will be. And looking for this world to fulfill my security will only leave me empty and anxious.
(title from "I Am Yours" by Misty Edwards)