the hope of Psalm 90
My first memories of anxiety go back to 3rd grade. I’m sure many of us can come up with something that we worried about when we were young. However, the worry that I had, even from a young age, ruled my life. It kept me from sleeping, dominated my thoughts throughout the day, and stopped me from doing things a normal 10 year old would do. I was worrying so often and so much that I was diagnosed with ulcers.
This type of behavior continued into my high school years. It continued to manifest itself in sleepless nights, a go-getter personality, and being over involved in all-the-things. Outwardly I looked like a high achiever but inwardly I was just trying to busy my mind with everything so that I didn’t have to think about anything. Intrusive thoughts of anxiety and depression continued to plague me – but that just made me double-down and work harder and suppress more.
I look back at that time and thank God for His provision of grace because it was only because of Him that I survived those years with a hidden mental disorder.
I wish that back in 3rd grade when the doctor diagnosed me with ulcers that it would have been a red-flag. That instead of prescribing me Rolaids and telling me to stop worrying, that he would have looked into the deeper root of anxiety. But it was the early 90’s and it seems like that wasn’t on a lot of radars back then.
Instead of a proper diagnosis, I went for another 30 years grappling with incessant anxious thoughts that cluttered my mind and weighed down my heart.
At the age of 36, when I started having suicidal thoughts for the third time in my life, I finally called a mental health hotline and they connected me with a doctor and counselor. Through those visits I received a diagnosis of depression and General Anxiety Disorder. Finally, armed with a diagnosis, I could start addressing it for what it was.
Counseling, medication, and new tools to address the condition have helped me come a long way in the last 5 years.
I haven’t been cured from my anxiety disorder – sometimes my heart still races, my mind jumps from one thought to another, it’s often hard to catch my breath, and there is either a constant “buzzing” feeling in my chest or this feeling of dread that is hanging over my head.
Anxiety isn’t just a care of this world that weighs you down. It’s intrusive thought patterns that disrupt your every day. It’s a heavy sense of foreboding over matters that do not warrant that big of concern. It’s a mental health disorder that can consume you and keep you from operating a normal life. Counseling, medication, and an understanding support system are all tools that can help someone get over that hurdle and move on to a fulfilling life.
As I was working through counseling and beginning to implement the tools I learned to start getting my anxiety under control – instead of it controlling me – I latched onto the verse of Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we can get a heart of wisdom.”
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2 thoughts on “how to address anxiety, feelings of failure, and lack of purpose”
I can so relate. I had panic attacks at age 5 but didn’t know what they were. I don’t talk about it much but my mother was terrifying. I was her verbal and sometimes her physical whipping boy. My mental illness was not diagnosed until my 20s. I had to be over 18 to seek help on my own.
Kary, I’m so sorry that you had to experience that! Trauma is real and it’s effects run deep. I’m glad that you’ve finally found the help that you need!