Let’s begin by saying this is the way it happened for me. This is a not a step-by-step-do-this-and-it-will-work because we are all different when it comes to anxiety. Each of us have different triggers. None of us “do” anxiety the same way. What trips my trigger might be a no-big to you. What gets you all in a fuss might make me roll my eyes. So, that being said, this is how I overcame anxiety.
First of all, anxiety and all it’s facets, all it’s attachments, all the things that can go along with it basically suck. We all know, (well, we all can Google pretty quickly to find out) that there are millions of us on anxiety meds. There are millions of us who need counseling. There are millions of us who might not be on meds but self-medicate. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out we are in deep. We are in a deep hole of anxiety and worry and depression…and that includes us, Christ followers.
I don’t have the room here to write a ba-billion things about anxiety and there are plenty of experts out there who love Jesus and can teach you more. I would, first of all, send you to the Word of God and then Caroline Leaf. Just read her stuff and watch her videos. Twice.
Now, back to me.
I never had anxiety until I uprooted and moved from Oklahoma to Nashville. It was coupled with depression (which actually came first….maybe), and some hypochondriac issues (which just held hands with the other two). So, anxiety, depression and being scared that I had a tumor in my elbow or back of the knee every other week made for a mess of me. And it lasted for well over a year.
It was awful. It wasn’t constant, but when it hit, it was overwhelming, irrational, and breathtaking.
We have been in Nashville a little over three years now, and I can finally say I have been well for quite some time. While I do not want to go through my personal anxiety details, I do want to go through the things I did, and God did, to get me well. I would highly suggest doing all of these and what ever else the Lord leads you to do.
1. I was always honest with God. Even though I put my journal away for a season because it just didn’t fit who I was anymore, I didn’t run from Him, or blame Him. I was always honest with Him. I never felt like I couldn’t tell Him exactly the way I felt and what I was going through…even when I couldn’t hear Him, I still knew His promise was true; He was in me and that was what I knew regardless of how I felt. Notice, I don’t talk about my “prayer life”. That kind of language just made me mad. My season of darkness and anxiety drug that church stuff through the mud. We talked. I cried. He listened. He spoke. It wasn’t a prayer life. It was prayer triage. And that was the best way to have it.
2. I personally did not go on medication. I found a NP who worked with me with food, supplements and exercise. I bought what she said, I ate what she said, and I made sure I got exercise. Now, saying that, I did find that I drank more wine during that time. Sometimes too much, so that’s the whole “self-medication” I was talking about. For me, prescriptions weren’t an option. Food and supplements and sunshine are vital to your mental health. I read this book, The UltraMind Solution, and it was awesome. (ps. do not go off or on meds without your Doctor. Don’t do dumb stuff like that, m’kay?)
3. I made sure I had people who knew what I was going through. Even though many didn’t understand, there were the select few who did. They knew what I was dealing with and why, and they were there for me. If you are struggling to get well, find people you can be honest with and talk to. If you don’t have close friends like that, get to a counselor.
4. It took a lot of surrendering to the work of the Holy Spirit to really understand that my anxiety came from a feeling of a lack of control. These were layers of discovery with Jesus. I had to learn that I had planned my whole life, and it wasn’t mine to plan. I had to give up what I thought my future would be like and remind myself that I said yes to a God who wanted my whole trust and my absolute faith. I find that we have a hard time juggling our “dreams” with abandoning our whole lives to Christ, but that’s a different blog post.
5. Pulling my eyes off my circumstances, my wants, even my dreams, led me back to living in God’s wants and dreams for Himself. If I say I am a Christ follower, a God follower, someone who has committed my life to the Creator of the Universe, that has agreed that my life is not my own, that I was bought with a price, then I must be about what He is about. I must live a life that He describes as one lived according to His word and His purposes. Anything less is all about me. Now, that is a LOT easier said than done, especially in our culture, and even in the church, were discovering my dream is a greater and loftier thing to do than for me to discover God and His dream. Jesus prayed in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” My whole life should be the same prayer. When we pray that prayer, it requires adjustment. Maybe not for all of us, but for a lot of us, it requires us looking at our life and deciding if we are all about making sure people know Him, the only true God.
You are needed desperately in the great call of God for the nations. That is domestic and foreign. Jesus’ prayer was a global, international, go-into-all-the-world kind of prayer. It wasn’t one for self-help and self-realization. His prayer is that we would know God, that they would know God.. and this for His glory.
And those of us who follow Him must be determined not to be ruled by anything but Him. That includes anxiety and/or depression.
Are you ready to be free?
Are you willing to put up the fight?
Are you willing to surrender, to yield in faith to the Holy Spirit, to gain freedom so you can get in the prayer with Jesus?
Please do. Don’t let anxiety and depression keep you down any longer. Don’t let mainstream America and mainstream medicine tell you you can’t. You can. God can. It might take awhile because God might need to break down some false beliefs you have about your anxiety and depression, but it can be done. (disclaimer: I realize there may be a few people who really do have genetic and chemical issues. I have an uncle who is bi-polar. There isn’t anything he can do. But, the vast majority of us that have dealt with this and are dealing with it, can be free and well. I’ve done it.)
Okay, that’s my thing. Visit Caroline Leaf. Read her books. Read Andrew Murray’s The Indwelling Spirit. Ingest the Word of God. Believe it in faith that the Holy Spirit is doing a work you cannot.
What would happen if we stopped freaking out about our futures and our dreams and lived lives that lived out that prayer Jesus prayed?
How can doing these things change the way you view your anxiety and depression?
Which one can you do today and the next day to get out of what is sadly brought on by ourselves, rather than our genetics?
Are you willing to ask yourself the hard questions it would take to begin living a life for God?
What things do you need to change to not let anxiety and depression rule you any longer?
You can be free.
You can be well.
You can join in the great work of taking Christ to the nations.
(ps again. I know I sound like I am against personal dreams. I’m not. I’m against believers having dreams and calling them from God when they do nothing for the growth of His kingdom and only bring benefit to themselves. And there ya go.)