Speaking openly about anxiety
Recently I read an article on the BBC News website, which said nearly ‘one in four young women has a mental illness’, depression and anxiety being some of the most common ones.
It's not just women, but young men also suffer.
This made me feel a deep sense of sadness at how many young women struggle, and I know it's not just women, but young men also suffer just as much.
The worst time I faced anxiety was in my early teens. It came in the form of complete panic and confusion. Often I would be physically sick because I would get myself so worked up that the adrenaline in my body had to go somewhere, and often this would be the toilet!
The worst thing about it was that I didn’t really understand at the time what my triggers were.
I would feel anxious when I felt out of control.
I later came to understand that I would feel anxious when I felt out of control. I would feel this most when I was in big groups of people, so it would often hit me when I was at school or youth group.
I was so afraid of being sick or embarrassed in front of people, so I would find things like public transport, being at crowded events, or places where there would be no bathroom utterly terrifying.
I found it really hard to explain how I felt to those around me at first, mainly because for a long time I didn’t even understand it myself. But I started to tell close friends and family, and I was fortunate enough to have God in my life who brought me the most peace and security when I felt at my lowest.
I no longer experience panic attacks.
I battled with my anxiety on and off from the age of 12 until I was about 15.
Though there are days when I feel afraid about things, I no longer experience panic attacks, and I’m no longer afraid of being sick everywhere!
I’m a confident person when I go to concerts, I don’t have to locate the nearest loo, I can get onto a bus in a heartbeat, and I love nothing more than being surrounded by people. In fact, I’m naturally an extrovert so being around people is my most favourite thing. Funny huh?
The book of Joshua in the bible brought me a lot of peace through this time.
For a little context, the Israelite people had been wandering around in the desert looking for God’s promised land. They had a new leader, called Joshua, that came to lead them into the land, but it wasn't an easy thing to do, and a lot of people were full of fear at the task ahead.
Be strong and courageous.
In this time, God said to them, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9.
I believe in the abundant love of God and that he is with me wherever I go. Yes, I still feel the feeling of fear in my life, but I know that I have a God who is greater and stronger than that fear.
I knew that ultimately he would comfort me and get me through.
The Bible talks about Jesus being a comforter, and even though I didn't understand why I was feeling anxious, I knew that ultimately he would comfort me and get me through. And today, I can say he did!
If you struggle with anxiety, then I would encourage you to share how you are feeling with those that you trust and don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. There is freedom in daring to be brave and vulnerable, sharing how you feel.
I am so much stronger now.
The Bible talks about how Jesus' strength is made perfect in our weakness, and I know that I am so much stronger now than I ever would have been if I hadn’t battled with anxiety!
He longs to have a relationship with you, to be close to you. It’s as simple as giving your heart to him by believing that he died on the cross for you and rose again so that you could have everlasting life with the Father through him.
I promise it is the greatest adventure!
There is incredible freedom by living in the knowledge that you have been saved by unconditional love and grace, and I promise it is the greatest adventure!