Do you struggle with anxiety and depression?

It’s normally assumed that a proper telling of a story should begin at the beginning. I suppose it only makes sense, we humans like chronological. The problem with the beginning, at least with my story, is that you don’t see the hope, not right away at least.

I’m sure if you’ve experienced any kind of trauma, you can relate. Our stories of brokenness don’t normally open with hope, do they? We tend to pull the curtain back only to find that turmoil, hurt and pain have the starring roles.

I want something else to have the starring role here.

with anxiety and depression

What do you do with anxiety and depression?

Over the weeks to come I’m sharing my journey of living with anxiety and depression. The good, the bad, the ugly and the in-between. I believe in bringing our stories into the light to share our bumps, bruises, and scars with one another. There is momentous value in the painful parts of our stories.

However, these days, I try to put the spotlight where it should’ve been all along. For that reason, I’m starting somewhere else.

I’m starting with HOPE.

If you glean only one thing from our time together, I want it to be hope.  I believe that hope is the single greatest conqueror over fear.

If there is one emotion intrinsic to anxiety and depression, it is hopelessness. It feels like a ride that you desperately want to get off of but can’t figure out how. Before you have even begun you already feel defeated. This is where anxiety and depression thrive, in the darkness of “I can’t” and “this will never go away.”

I’d love for you to try to make a conscious commitment to walk away from that kind of thinking. I’m not implying that you stop feeling or telling you that by thinking positively all your problems will dissolve.

I’m asking you to make room for something else – make room for hope.

The lies in your head will tell you that you are alone, that you are the only one that is beyond help. Those same lies whisper that there is no hope for you. It is just simply not true.

My friend, I want you to grab hold of one truth before we even begin talking about the specifics of anxiety and depression.

Hope is a necessity for healing and for change.

There is hope. 

For everyone. 

Meeting the God of Hope

There was a time I truly believed I was the only person in the world that couldn’t be helped. I really believe that if I can overcome daily panic, anxiety, and depression, anyone can. I realize that is an audacious statement to make, but we have a truly amazing God.

The comfort and hope I have gained are found in a person that just happens to have hope in His name.

The God of hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

He is the God of hope and our hopelessness and brokenness are His specialties.

He’s not the God of “I really, really, really hope that this happens.” No, it’s a different kind of hope. In this verse, the word hope means a joyful and confident expectation. Do you see the difference? He’s not a cross-your-fingers and wish kind of God. He is a God that we can have complete confidence in.

A God we can hope in.

My prayer for you, my dear reader, is that you will come to trust the God of hope with your emotions, greatest fears and biggest doubts. He’s big enough to take it.

No matter what you’ve been through or how long you have gone through it, there is always hope. 

I pray also, that you find this blog and thereby find a safe place of “me too.” Even if you do not experience anxiety or depression, I am fairly confident we all know someone who does – and really, everyone will most likely deal with these emotions at some point in their lives. My desire is that you find some valuable information to help in the fight against fear for yourself or someone you love.

Maybe, just maybe, you can walk away with a little more hope.

There is a  God that is so much bigger than our fears. He is the God of hope.

Where to begin to combat anxiety and depression

I can say without hesitation, you didn’t get here overnight, therefore, you are not going to do one thing that suddenly changes it all.

When I was in the thick of anxiety and depression I found myself searching for a big solution. When really, it was a whole lot of little things that lead to the big change I had been grasping for.

Here are a few things you can do today to start turning the tide:

  • Begin with hope and move forward from there. Make a choice to believe every day that things can change, you can change. You are not beyond help.
  • Speak Truth. In the really hard moments of anxiety and (or) depression, your brain is going to be screaming that you can’t get out of this. You have been believing the lie that you just can’t. These lies have become ingrained in your mind and have turned into a belief system.

Find scripture or other truth that specifically combats the lies you are believing, write them down, memorize them and speak them to yourself. Plain and simple, replace the lie with the truth. (I’ll talk more about this in later posts.)

No, it’s not a magic wand. Yes, it takes time and effort on your part. But truth kills lies. Speak the truth and you will see hope increase.

  • Be okay with where you are. Right. Now. Yes, we all want to be better, do better, feel better Right. Now. But sometimes it starts with being ok where you are in this moment. Give yourself permission to be anxious. Let it be okay for you to feel the depression. You were made with emotions, God-given emotions. Your emotions are not the bad guy. Be okay with allowing yourself time and looking under the hood to figure out what needs a tune-up… You are a complex, unique, remarkable, one-of-a-kind individual. God made you that way. Working out the kinks will take a little time, and yes, a little hurt along the way.

And that is Okay. You know why?

Because hope comes from suffering.

What do you do with anxiety and depression?

Every day you show up, equipped with truth, believing there is hope and allowing yourself to be where you are – when you persevere you are building up your reservoir of hope.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

There is no shame in hoping.

Find hope. Believe that there is hope. You were not meant to walk this life crippled with panic, fear, and sadness. I promise.

He promises.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” …Jesus   John 10:1


A necessary disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a professional with letters after my name. I am someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for over 20 years. Read about me here. I may have life experience and insight… But I would suggest you seek professional help if you feel you need it.

***If you came upon this site and are not sure about this whole Jesus thing, let me just say, welcome! I hope you’ll stick around and maybe enter the conversation about Him and who He claims to be.

Things I Never Thought I’d Be Thankful For

Thankfulness can sneak into the most unlikely of places.

The end of this year finds me rapidly heading out of my 30’s and smacking straight into 40. (No, an exact date need not be mentioned here.)

 As I look back over these years, I’m thankful for many things, which include obvious blessings, like my family and amazing friends. And of course, my Jesus.

Although, this Thanksgiving I am thankful for a few things that surprise even me.

Slow starts and small beginnings

I’m not going to be shy about telling you that I’m new around here. You, my dear readers, are on this journey with me as I learn, and by God’s grace grow. I’ve been overwhelmed lately with my to-do’s, whether it be for my blog, homeschooling, or any number of other things in my life.

If it were up to me I’d have it all be full-grown and magnificent immediately. You know, snap my fingers and voila, D.O.N.E!

However, that’s not God’s plan. Instead, I feel as though it’s all progressing so S.L.O.W.L.Y.

While feeling frustrated and overwhelmed today, I realized that God’s grace is all over the slow starts and small beginnings of life. His lovely grace is apparent in giving us sweet, tiny, extra lovable babies at birth. Not full-grown 15 year olds, with stinky, size 10 feet, facial hair and a deepening voice that more often than not talks back. (Oh, I’m sorry, too specific to just be an example?)

The recognition that I wouldn’t know what to do with an instantaneous full-grown-dream occurred to me. With tears in my eyes, I stopped and thanked Him for where I am. right. now.

Without those slow starts and small beginnings there would be no hard lessons learned and magnificent little triumphs.

I’m thankful that He allows us to dip our feet in the water slowly. He is gracious to allow some changes gradually, even when I wish things would progress much faster. He knows this anxious girl can only handle a few things at once.

I may want something badly, but He knows just what I can handle now.

His timing is perfect and I’m thankful for that.

Thank you Jesus, for slow starts and small beginnings.
For Anxiety

This is something I can genuinely say I never thought I’d be thankful for.

But..

I am.

I was once an extremely fearful girl. Filled with panic, fear, depression and pain.

I sometimes read words I used to write back then, meeting up with that fearful girl every once in a while to remember where I’ve come from. There is a place for sitting with her, listening to her and remembering the journey.

I do this, so as I sit with others I can listen to them and relate to their journey.

When I was in the midst of that painful place I never imagined the beauty that could come from it. While in the storm we find it nearly impossible to see far enough in front of us to know it can be a gift.

I used to beg God daily for my anxiety to go away and I longed to forget the rocky road I had walked. I saw no value in the cuts and bruises I had sustained along the way.

I’ve since learned that forgetting would render me ineffective.

I can choose to hide them and go inward or I can take those scars, show them to the world and offer encouragement to other hurting souls.

You don’t even have to be finished with your path to be used by Him, which is the most beautiful part.

There IS beauty IN our pain and redemption in our ashes when we allow Jesus to use them.

It’s not just a trite saying.

Every time I sit and remember the fearful girl, I walk away a little more thankful for me. Because after all, I’m still her..

I’m thankful for my story.. for anxiety.

Because;

There’s hope in my scars.

Healing in the tears.

Wisdom from the pain.

Encouragement to be shared by an imperfect woman living an unfinished story, written by the ultimate story-teller.

Jesus, thank you for showing me your love even in my anxiousness. Thank you for showing me that perfect love casts out fear.

For my imperfections and weaknesses

There are many things I don’t love about myself. I’m learning every day to appreciate my imperfections because they are a part of who I am.

I laugh loudly. (And may have been known to snort while doing it.)

I talk loudly and give my opinion far too easily.

I love ice cream and chocolate Way. Too. Much.

I tend to talk far more than I listen.

I’m a procrastinator.

I give up too easily.

I jump to conclusions.

I’m fearful and highly sensitive.

My imperfections and weaknesses abound…

And I am thankful for each one simply because;

 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving that you never thought you would be? What things do you feel you could never be thankful for? What do you long to be thankful for but just can’t be right now? Bring them all to Him and lay them at His feet, dear friend.. 

 

 

 

Jesus and My Fan..

 

Pillow, blanket, toothbrush.. I can’t forget my Bible.

I marked off the mental checklist running through my mind while wandering around my room packing my bag for my weekend away. Naturally, I love the idea of going to a women’s retreat, there’s just one small problem.

I’m neurotic about my sleep.

I promise I’m not just high maintenance. You see, about 18 years ago, when I started having severe anxiety and depression,  I went through what I now affectionately call, “my breakdown.” At the time I was a 21-year-old woman, reduced to the status of a little girl. I was frightened by almost everything and didn’t sleep for 4 days straight and struggled with sleep from then on. Night time was just, well, hard.

I have come a long way, but as with any trauma, scars remain..

I am so excited to be featured over at Married by His Grace today, come join me there!

**Read the rest of my story Here.

 

Do not let your heart be troubled…

Earlier this last month I spoke a little about “doing it afraid.” 

It’s funny to me how just when I write about something, Jesus gives me a chance to live it out. I have to face something that I find very scary and a friend kindly sent those 3 words to me in a text. I smiled reading it because I knew it was my words. A little “practice what you preach” was most definitely coming my way.

It keeps me on my toes, I guess. (Oh, Jesus, following you certainly never leaves me with a dull moment. We’ll have to have a discussion about this some day, along with the fact that I can’t seem to consume copious amounts of ice cream without getting fat. It all seems so unfair..)

 As for now?  Well..  practice what I preach.

“For we walk by faith not by sight..” 2 Corinthians 5:7

I love the NLT version of this scripture, “For we live by believing and not by seeing.”

Living by belief and not what we see is exactly what I meant by doing it afraid. The whole point of “doing it afraid” is to prove God’s faithfulness in our lives.

It’s easier said than done, right?

Living with anxiety tends to feel like we have a serious disadvantage in the whole walking by faith realm. It can feel like a non-stop uphill battle and an unfair one at that. When we are anxious, everything we see, feel, hear or touch screams at us because we are so overly sensitive to everything.

I was just talking with a friend the other day that is currently struggling with some severe anxiety. She was telling me that every sound puts her on edge and all I could do was nod emphatically.

Anxiety and stress cause every nerve in your body to be on high alert. Every person that has ever lived knows how it feels to be “on edge,” even if they do not struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. Living with anxiety means being over the edge every day.

When I am dealing with strong anxiety I struggle to eat or to sleep. Obviously, both are necessary to function normally. So, as you can imagine, I don’t function quite “normally” in my day to day life when this is happening.

The question remains, how to live by faith and not feelings when anxious or depressed?

It has taken me quite some time to learn how to walk by faith in seasons of anxiety or depression.

The key phrase being, “learn.”

I’ll start off by saying something you will hear me say often; it will take time. Thankfully, however, God has nothing but time. Remember to be kind and give yourself lots of grace. Putting one foot in front of the other and accepting who you are and the fact that God accepts you just as you are. He is not upset with you for being anxious.. and no, you’re not a bad Christian. (I’ll talk more about this in upcoming blog posts.)

Learning..

When I truly began digging into God’s word for the answers to what I was going through, without expecting it to be a quick fix, (This will ALSO be a topic for another day) It was the smallest things that opened huge doors for change.

Reading in the book of John for probably the hundredth time in my life, I turned to chapter 14, verse 27 and began to read.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

It never stops amazing me how God uses His word in the simplest ways that make the most impactful changes in my heart. It’s especially amazing when it’s a passage I’ve read time and again.

That word “let” leapt off the page at me. I distinctly remember staring at it in amazement because it explained something I never knew that I didn’t know.

Reading that sentence over and over, I narrowed it down to the main point, “Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid..”

“It’s a choice.” I whispered out loud to no one in particular. And smiled.

I had a choice.

It almost sounds silly now typing that small sentence. But it is huge.

When you truly begin to BELIEVE from the heart that you have a choice, it changes everything. This tiny portion of this verse spoke volumes to me because I was finally  ready to stop being a victim.

Let me pause and explain something here. I know what it feels like to be upset at statements like the aforementioned. Because I know what it feels like to truly BELIEVE there is no way out.  Please understand what I am saying, anxiety is not something we ask for, but it is something we can choose or not choose in a moment. I used to believe I was a victim to anxiety and fear, I believed I was ruled and defined by it. No, I didn’t ask to be prone towards a fearful, worrying mind and anxious body, that was not my “fault.” However, when we believe in Jesus He gives us self-control over our mind and emotions.

I am a new creation in Christ, but my body is not new yet. Therefore, here lies the tricky in-between where I must make a choice. When I read the truth of “Let not your heart be troubled,” I learned that feelings don’t rule me. Jesus does.

If you know anxiety and the feelings that come with it, then you may be sitting here thinking, “yeah, easy for you to say!” Believe me, I get it. We can not change our feelings in a moment. It’s not about changing our feelings, so much as not allowing them to be the final say. There are times my heart is pounding out of my chest and my stomach is in knots. The key is, I don’t have to let my mind follow.. because it always tries.

I absolutely have a choice.

I do not have to LET my mind race down a rabbit trail of fear.

Every moment we live is just that, a moment. We live life in snippets of time and therefore, we make a million choices within moments every day. I have to choose in that moment of anxiety or panic if I’m going to allow His peace to rule me instead of the fear. I choose to put one foot in front of the other, walking in the direction of Jesus’s peace.

The best way I have learned to describe this, is being in a boat on a stormy sea and just “riding it out.” The difference between me now and me then, is that now I believe it’s not a passive “riding it out.” When I would have anxiety or a panic attack in the past, I would sincerely believe there was nothing I could do. In my mind “it” was happening to me. Now, I believe I have a choice in the matter. It may not be pleasant but I can choose where I set my mind. I ride the waves, focusing on the horizon and the truth that my feelings don’t rule me. Jesus does.

This is a little bit of where the “doing it afraid” comes in. Your feelings are just that, feelings, they are going to mess with you and come along for the ride no matter what. So, I say, do it, believe you can, feel that fear and let Jesus prove His truth is bigger than your feelings.

I can tell you that after years of dealing with anxiety, speaking truth to my mind in the midst of a panic attack or anxious episode, always makes it go away faster.

Truth believed and acted on in the heart of a child of God can do amazing things.

Speaking Truth

If you are experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, remember that speaking truth to your mind is the most important thing to do. It can mean the difference between falling into a deep pit of despair and simply just having a rough day.

There are times we can’t speak lengthy scripture passages to ourselves or pray eloquent prayers, we just don’t have it in us. When you are in this place, keep it simple and speak a small truth that you know means something huge. When you do this you’re training your brain and changing your belief.

Focus on a simple truth and say it out loud if that helps. Or say a simple prayer, asking God to help you believe that you have a choice. Sometimes we don’t even feel as though we can choose in those really hard moments. Focus on the truth and keep moving forward. Remember, “it’s just a moment.” I would often tell myself, it’s just a moment, I’ve lived thousands and thousands of moments. He has brought me faithfully through all of those moments, He will bring me through this one too.

If you stick around here any length of time you will hear me say this again and again; Anxiety does not just vanish in a moment or go away over night if this is something you deal with regularly. It will, however, lessen over time as you implement tools in your daily life. Also know that your faith walk will look a little different in seasons of anxiety and/or depression. That’s ok. Remember, be kind, you’re human, you’ll have good days and bad.

My friend, struggling with controlling emotions doesn’t have to define you. You have a choice. Living by believing sounds so mystical and other worldly, but really, it’s simply speaking truth to ourselves and continuing to choose to not let our heart be troubled. Even when it feels like the hardest thing in the world to do, you will find your savior always faithful to help.

 

 

**I’m working on getting some printable’s up with simple truths that you can carry with you. Check back soon for these!**