Anxiety and Depression – Two Peas in a Pod and the Power of Words

**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I have a superpower.

Yep, it’s true. Prepare yourself; for you will surely be amazed.

I have the uncanny ability to feel “up” and “down” all at the same time.

Amazed yet?

Confused?

Me too.

Let me clarify, I have the ability to be both anxious and depressed all at the same time. I get completely wound up with my brain racing all while feeling hopeless and utterly defeated.

Amazing, right?!

I knew you’d be impressed.

Two Peas In a Pod

This series is labeled the Anxiety and Depression Series for a reason: According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website, one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

In short, anxiety and depression tend to hang out together.

They’re old pals that go way back and love to conspire in disrupting your entire life.

Just when you think you have anxiety under control, it will tag team its partner, depression so that it jumps in and disables you with a body slam.

Let’s be honest, they suck, but they make awesome teammates.

Anxiety and its Best Friend, Depression

One of my first experiences with depression was after I began having panic attacks and severe anxiety. I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me I had depression. But sure enough, flipping to the other side of the frantic coin, sat despair.

There was a hopelessness and confusion during this time in my life that is hard to explain. I constantly felt as though something terrible was about to happen and I desperately needed a solution, and yet, I was left feeling incapable of finding one.

In my experience, anxiety seems to demand immediate attention, it’s loud and immediately aggressive. Meanwhile, depression can be a chameleon, a shape-shifter and is often insidious in its attack.

But because they are so similar in other ways, it makes me think of that old saying, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

When you’re deep in it, it can be hard to tell.

Think, think, think…

A key symptom of both depression and anxiety is rumination. This simply means the sufferer obsessively goes over a thought or worry, thinking they’ll eventually come to a solution. In reality, they end up exhausting themselves while wasting precious time and mental energy.

This whole rumination thing is really a wrestling match of words.

I’ve spent many, many, … (there just aren’t enough many’s for this) days ruminating and wrestling.

The thoughts we find ourselves entertaining are a rabbit trail of frightening scenarios and doubts.

The average person has thoughts like this but their brain either problem solves or eventually moves on. The brain that struggles with anxiety and depression is like a needle stuck in the same groove of a record, going round and round.

Being in such a heightened state of anxiety for so long is sure to cause a drop. Medically speaking, we know it’s terrible for your body to be wound up with adrenaline and cortisol.

Depression, therefore, is a natural result of anxiety.

Anxiety in the heart causes depression…

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

Well, isn’t that interesting. Even in the word of God, they are paired together.

I love this verse because it feels like an answer I’ve been searching for. It makes sense to this over-thinking brain.

Sort of like an equation that I can file away:

An anxious mind over what might be or what was = Melancholy due to lack of control.

Even more interesting to me was the second half of the verse.

A good word makes it glad

The word glad that is used here means to brighten up, to cause to rejoice and cheer up.

You know what I think is a pretty good word for the anxious and depressed?

“You are okay just as you are and you don’t have to fix this right now.”

It can feel imperative that you get rid of all of these awful emotions RIGHT NOW which is partly what can cause anxiety and depression to worsen.

A good word is one that lifts and encourages you to understand that it’s okay to not be over this overnight.

It takes time.

There is nothing more encouraging than being given permission to just accept who you are and where you are at this moment.

Am I saying that every mental illness and issue will be resolved when given a good word?

No, of course not.

But I do know first hand what a word of truth and kindness can do to an overly anxious and hopeless heart.

Life is hard.

Living life with anxiety and depression is even harder.

So, no matter what treatments you are implementing, a kind and understanding word will always bring hope, life, and encouragement.

Be kind to yourself with your own words and fill your mind up with God’s words. Work on replacing those painful, ruminating thoughts with words that lift up and trust in God.

Whatever battle you are fighting, remember that Jesus fights with you. He is not condemning you and His words are there for you to battle with.

Regardless of which came first or why you are going through a time of anxiousness and depression, words have power.

Which brings me back full circle…

I think we do have a superpower after all: it’s the power of our words.


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 He is.


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Anxiety and Depression Series – How to Hug Your Cactus

When I say I have anxiety, it's acknowledging weakness. And let's be perfectly honest here, nobody likes admitting to weakness. It's just a really hard pill to swallow. The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Hug Your Cactus. #anxiety #depression #hope

**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

“I have anxiety.”

Those 3 words are difficult to squeeze out of my windpipe on some days.

Admitting I have anxiety feels like code for something else: “Nice to meet you, I’m a big baby and everyday things can terrify me.

What, you ask?

Oh… everything.

I think I am probably more cautious than most of your typical doomsdayers – in fact- I’m surprised I don’t live in an underground bunker.  *Note to self: look into underground bunkers. Hmm.. except I’m a bit claustrophobic – that’s a problem.

When I say I have anxiety, it’s acknowledging weakness. And let’s be perfectly honest here, nobody likes admitting to weakness.

It’s just a really hard pill to swallow.

 

When I say I have anxiety, it's acknowledging weakness. And let's be perfectly honest here, nobody likes admitting to weakness. It's just a really hard pill to swallow. The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Hug Your Cactus. #anxiety #depression #hope

Anxiety and Depression Series – How to Hug Your Cactus

Being someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression for decades means I am intrinsically a sensitive person.

Anxiety and depression tag along quite nicely to a sensitive personality. I wasn’t always aware of this, which means I have spent an inordinate amount of time beating myself up for who I was.

It hadn’t occurred to me for a very long time to just be okay with it. To (gasp) admit to my sensitivity and weakness. *currently swallowing hard pill...

Hug Your Cactus

Have you ever heard the phrase, “hug your cactus?” It’s an idiom I’ve seen used in several different capacities. The one I relate to the most is in the form of embracing your version of hard.

We all know cacti to be prickly, difficult, uncomfortable things.

When you live with anxiety and depression you are often doing life with a prickly, difficult thing on your back. Over time I found that I had come to a fork in the road with my anxiety: I could continue to fight and resist or…

I could hug it.

This does not mean giving in and giving up, it means working with that piece of you rather than against it.

It’s most likely the opposite of how you feel, but you learn to come to a place of balance with that part of yourself. You make peace with that prickly ‘ol thing.

Quit trying to fix that piece. Quit trying to shake it, outrun it and rid yourself of it.

I spent well over a decade trying to do just that and you know where it got me? You guessed it- more anxious than ever.

 

So, what’s the answer for the sensitive, anxious person?

You may safely assume you are hard-wired to be a sensitive person if you have a history of anxiousness and/or depression.

Congratulations!

*crickets…

No really, I mean it! Here’s why –

People who are naturally sensitive and anxious are typically deep thinkers and are far more emotionally in tune with themselves and others. They also tend to be extremely imaginative. (*thus the reason we easily come up with disaster scenarios for every occasion)

See, that cactus ain’t looking so bad now huh?! *nudge, nudge -wink, wink.

The two most important things I have learned over my time with anxiety are:

  1. It’s OKAY to be an anxious/sensitive person. 
  2. And, more importantly, it doesn’t have to control you. 

It’s extremely freeing to come to a place of giving yourself permission to feel your emotions. And even more freeing, is to understand that those emotions do not have control over you.

Hugging your cactus is really just working within the circumstances you’ve been given. And in my case, the brain I’ve been given.

I’m a feeler. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it simply means that I feel things deeply. The best way I can describe this is that I’m a sponge soaking up the circumstances and emotions around me. Because I am a sensitive person, I am often hyper-aware of other people’s feelings and moods.

I used to focus my energy on eradicating this part of me rather than managing it and channeling it where it needed to go. All of these many years later I feel blessed that God has gifted me with the ability to step into another’s shoes.

Empathy and compassion are not born from excessive strength, but rather, from having come to know our own depth of need through our weakness.

Truth be told, we all are in desperate need.

We don’t like to be weak. Self-sufficiency is where it’s at and we want to exchange dependent for independent.

However, I remember it being said:

“… 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 12:10

Jesus loves weaklings.

Maybe you don’t have anxiety. But you do have a weakness, we all do. We were made with limitations.

We were made to be dependent.

On Him.

Having weaknesses is not a bad thing- it’s a human thing.

I don’t want to recoil at my weaknesses anymore – I want to embrace them. Embracing my weakness is embracing the fact that Jesus is my strength. Even my weaknesses are entirely under His control and in His power.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about that truth, it makes me want to go give my cactus a big old hug!

Maybe your cactus isn’t a sensitive personality, depression or anxiety. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. Whatever it may be, remember this, He can use ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING for your good and His glory.

So, whatever it is, go give that ugly, prickly, uncomfortable thing a BIG. FAT. HUG.


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