Anxiety and Depression Series – (8) 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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The Anxiety and Depression Series – (7 )How to Journal Your Way to Healing

The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Journal Your Way to Healing #journaling #anxiety #depression

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

 

Standing in my present, a safe distance from my past, I gaze back through the years to see a former me.

She is a new wife and a new mom.

She was also…

Afraid.

There is a night that she was at the end of her rope which is etched deeply into my memory.

The veil between here and the spiritual world felt thin that night, the demons were screeching loudly.

Sitting slumped on the edge of her bed, leaning over, face in her hands, she was sobbing silently as to not wake her husband. Exhausted by the frightening thoughts stuck on replay in her head and the panic that engulfed her. She was wishing it would all just end… and terrified it might.

She had a choice to make.

Meeting her there.

When I go back in my mind’s eye, I enter there quietly and kneel in front of her – silent for a moment in her presence because it feels like sacred ground.

The pain is raw, even now, all of these many years later.

Her face is mine, but younger and far more sorrowful. Smile lines have many years before they make an appearance and her tired green eyes leak endless tears. Dark curls are balled up in a bun, she lacks the strength to brush it.

Tilting my head, I imagine hunching down in front of her. Her arms were so thin, the wretched anxiety allowed her to eat very little. I long now to lift her trembling chin in my hand, to wipe away those tears and smile gently. Yearning for her to hear, “Don’t worry, your story becomes beautiful, nothing you’ve felt will go to waste, I promise.”

That fearful girl…

During my journey to healing, I was afraid of that fearful girl.

I was ashamed of her sadness, embarrassed by her swollen eyes and unkempt appearance. I didn’t want to share this ugly, shamefaced version of me. Surely no one would want her around.

I didn’t give her grace or a voice and I ignored the lessons I could have learned from her for a long time.

The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Journal Your Way to Healing #journaling #anxiety #depression

How to Journal Your Way to Healing

Letting her speak

I kept the pages she wrote during those years in a drawer.

Tucked away.

I used to be petrified of her returning. I concluded that lingering too long over the tear-stained sheets would cause the sadness, like a snake sinking its venom into my veins, to overwhelm me and pull me back there again.

When I dared to go back I remembered that night as a turning point. A beginning of a choice.

Going through the pages she wrote has allowed me to listen to her and find value in those hard places.

What I found, to my surprise,  were words written by a deep thinker, an extremely imaginative mind, and a hurting soul. I saw a changing on each page: a leaning in, a learning to listen and a willingness to try.

For healing to occur, it first takes a belief it can happen and then a choice to try.

Journaling is so very important. It is tangible evidence of where you’ve been and allows you to build a roadmap to where you want to go.

Writing Truth

“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!” Job 19:23

*Chills. Because here they are – written in The Book.

Job, a man at the end of his rope, speaking from the place of unimaginable pain, wishing his words were written down and saved forever.

These words were exhaled with no idea as to the impact they would have. I can’t help but think, what if he would’ve held them in? All of those amazingly painful, confused words.

The hurting heart finds value and comfort from Job’s pain, from his words and from God’s words to him. They are pearls occurring from the pressure cooker of pain that Job lived.

Thank God for his words.

Journal your way to healing

I challenge you to learn from your hurt places as well. Don’t hide them and don’t hide from them. It may seem like the last thing in the world you want to do, but friend, believe me – just write:

  • Ideally, you want to write your words out on paper with a pen. Forming the letters with a pen on paper is healing and helpful, as it accesses the left side (or rational side) of your brain, it frees up the right side (or creative side.) Journaling allows both to work simultaneously to come up with solutions.
  • If you can’t actually write- try typing or speak into your phone’s notes. Just get the words that are driving you crazy out of your head and into the world.
  • Write out what you are feeling and thinking so it gets the thoughts into some sort of order – this helps with problem-solving.
  • Be truthful in your writing and I challenge you to seek out the lies. When you do, label it as a lie and find a truth that will slap those lies in the face.
  • If you struggle with persistent fears or worries, write them out and begin to look for a pattern in your worries. Find scriptures that combat that specific worry or fear or write them out. Work on memorizing those scriptures in place of those fears.

We have the choice to either listen and believe the thoughts in our minds or speak into them.

Journaling allows us to pause, hear our thoughts and address them head-on.

True peace comes when we replace lies with the truth.

I don’t fear her anymore—that frightened girl. Something I didn’t know then was that she didn’t need fixing because she was already fixed. She was His all along.

Through the pain and the words, a passion and perseverance I didn’t know were possible have risen up inside me.

She helped me, through her words, to find my own words and to release them to the world.

I go back to remind myself to keep moving forward.

Only then can I shut the door to those memories and sink my toes in the sand of where I am today.

Like a sunset immediately followed by a sunrise. My past and my present need not be so far apart; one does not lack more value than the other.

The veil was thin that night, this is true…

The veil of heaven.

He was there all along, slumped on the bed, arms wrapped around me, putting each tear in a bottle and keeping me safe.

There was purpose even there. I didn’t know it then, but I do now.


Stick with me through my personal journey of having walked through life with anxiety and depression and where I am today because of God’s grace and faithfulness!

 

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