established 10 august 2009

Monday, November 21, 2016

What If?

Recently, I went to a fireside about mental health. A lot was talked about, including anxiety for a short time. For myself, realizing that I deal with anxiety didn't come to light until this summer after a panic attack. So pretty recent - and the more I've thought about the more I realize it ps been around as long as I can remember, just like my depression. It became even more apparent while I was at the fireside. The speaker taught us that people with anxiety disorder ask the "what if" question a lot.

Whoa. That hit home. "What If"? - I do that. A lot. The example I thought of right away was in my relationship with Adam. Especially when I have something important to talk to him about.

I begin to think of worst case scenarios where we end fighting, arguing and hurtful words are said that can't be taken back. The emotions I experience through these terrible imaginations feel completely real that at times I can literally feel a panic attack emerging to the surface. I have to slow down, take a step back and continually tell myself that this imaginary, angry Adam I've made up in my head, is not real.  I have been doing this for as long as can remember with not only Adam but others I love and care about in life. Family, friends, teachers and countless others. It is literally, the way my brain reacts to stress.

Surprisingly, I felt compelled to share some of these thoughts to dozens of strangers at this fireside. My heart was racing and then my hand was up in the air and words starting spilling out. When I was done sharing, I couldn't believe what I had just done. Ironically, my anxiety was high for about the next hour.

For myself, and many others, anxiety is not just a thought process of ridiculous scenarios that aren't going to happen but it is a feeling that overtakes my entire body at times. I feel it - intensely. It consumes the body as if its pulsing through my veins. My heart is pounding and my mind is racing. My hands shake and my words stutter. Its hard to cope with at times but I'm usually able to get out of it by myself some way. Music tends to help a lot.

If you don't deal with anxiety, it's likely you know someone who does. You may be wondering or have wondered in past. I can't tell you how to fix someone, because honestly you can't. But I can tell you how to help. Don't seek out to fix the problem. Sympathize. And if you can empathize, all the better. But don't talk to them to try and fix what is wrong. We just need to know that you're listening. That you care. Tell us you know its hard. That what we are going through must suck. Tell us we're strong. That you believe in us. That we are capable. When we feel alone and that no one truly understands what we are going through, tell us - tell us that's not true. If there is one thing we should believe, it is that we are not alone. That there is one who knows our exact pain, sorrow and the feeling of being incapable of handling our own emotions. That one is, Christ.

Jesus Christ felt every kind of sorrow, loneliness, ailment, hopelessness and all other earthly pain we endure in the garden of Gethsemane. Our loving Savior has perfect empathy. When we forget, we need to remind each other of his perfect love.

Anxiety is difficult. Crippling at times. It shouldn't be disregarded as an attention grabber. Those who suffer from anxiety, you've probably had at least one experience where you opened up about your anxiety to someone. Maybe it was the first time so they could be informed or maybe you told them in the moment you were feeling anxiety take control. And they said "Well don't." "Stop it." Get over it."
"You're fine." This hurts. And may have turned you off from wanting to share anymore. I get that. I really do.

But remember, if we try, it can get better. Maybe we won't be cured in this life time, but we can feel better. We can take control. Maybe not alone. We need help. So get on your knees often and plead for the Savior to watch over you. To help day by day until one day, you will feel His strength in your life.

In the month of gratitude, work hard to find that joy in your trials. Seek out what you are grateful for in this life. Thank your Father in Heaven. Let's make our weaknesses become strengths with our Saviors help. One day at a time.

Our anxiety can make us better people - if we let it. We can find joy in our trials. 

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