Anxiety and Depression Series – (Part 2) My Story

611 Shares

***This is part 2 of an ongoing series I am doing here at Carryonmyheart.com, you can find part 1 here. 

 

Anxiety is defined as an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fears often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating and increased pulse rate) by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it. Merriam Webster online dictionary

The very core of anxiety is found in the last sentence of the Merriam Webster’s definition – Self-doubt about one’s ability to cope with it.

Torn in 2 Directions

The Greek word Merimnao, found in several verses within the new testament of the Bible, including Philippians 4:6, be anxious for nothing – Has a meaning of being pulled apart.

Merimnao= part, as opposed to the whole; drawn in opposite directions, divided into parts.

Anxiety is most definitely a pulling in two different directions. It is standing on the tightrope between hope and panic and feeling that any moment I could fall into the latter. It is the overwhelming trepidation that says impending doom is near, all the while, the opposing voice of truth and sanity explains you’re fine.

Anxiety is a dividing, a pulling between the truth we know and our emotions that take over. Every day we choose between fear and faith, trust over worry and as the dictionary’s definition explains, it is self-doubt that fuels anxiety.

This is precisely where my story begins.

 

Anxiety

For a very long time, I didn’t have a name for it. I just knew something wasn’t right.

From some of my earliest memories, I was afraid. 

Several things terrified me as a girl, including heights, death and the dark. Many children have fears, however, mine loomed far larger than simple childhood apprehension. I worried obsessively about things that an eight-year-old shouldn’t have been concerned with.

I have vivid memories of sweating profusely as I cowered on the floor of our car, positive we were moments from death because we were driving over a high bridge.

As a young girl, I went through a phase where I was certain I was going to die because I was too skinny since I could see my ribs. Images of my body simply giving up and my heart stopping bombarded me. My mom would tell me to eat more if I was worried and explained I would be fine, but I struggled to believe her.

I also suffered from severe migraines as a child and into my teenage years. I have wondered now if they were partly due to the stress I endured from fear.

There was no practical reason for my phobias as a child, this was simply a part of who I was. Aside from my fearfulness, I was a happy child. My parents tried reassuring me when I was afraid that nothing bad was going to happen…

Until it did.

Where fear becomes reality

When I was ten, my oldest brother died in a car accident. He was 17, a senior in high school and he died only three months before his 18th birthday.

Gazing backward over the layers of time since his passing, I see now that he was just a baby, only two years older than my own son currently is. A life that had so many possibilities, cut short.

Losing my big brother exasperated my worries and made the fear I struggled with seem insurmountable.

At just ten years old, standing huddled in the street between our house and the neighbors, I heard the words coming from my dad’s shaky voice that would change our family forever. “There was an accident and your brother died.”  I had four brothers, so when he said “brother” I wasn’t sure who he was talking about. I looked over and saw James standing next to me sobbing, Robert, several feet behind my dad, face stained with tears. And there, next to my mom just a short distance behind us, my littlest brother, Daniel, oblivious to any crisis since he was six.

It was Paul Michael, my oldest brother, and my father’s namesake who was missing from the picture.

Dad was laughing as he spoke, which confused and upset me. I gazed upwards, seeing his dark-rimmed glasses with the sun just behind him peeking through the trees. Hearing unfamiliar noises slipping from between his lips, I realized then that his laughing was actually gut-wrenching sobs. I had never heard my father cry before and mistook it for laughing. An anguish I couldn’t comprehend passed from his lungs into the warm September air.

Having three children of my own, I can only imagine the grief my parents must have felt that day. They went from having five children to four in an instant.

Reality slapped me square in the face and I discovered my mortality in a very real way. The rest of my family, much to my dismay, was also quite mortal. I would spend much of my time worrying about them for years to come.

We spent the next several days in a haze as my mom and dad laid their oldest son to rest in a cemetery on a hill…far too soon.

And their only daughter became entangled with fear that would, unfortunately, follow her closely the rest of her life.

The painful reality of life and death

I became well acquainted with death at an early age and not just because of my brother. For the next several years my family would receive phone calls about deaths of people close to us, family and friends alike.

I had gone to more funerals than weddings by the time I was 20.

The harsh realities of life and death became apparent to me, and in turn, I feared the possibilities. The terrible feeling of impending doom was a constant in my mind.

Fear, it seemed, was something that was innately etched into my personality. Dealing with death at such a young age combined with my already fearful disposition left me vulnerable. Because I had never learned what to do with my fear and grief, I didn’t understand that there was an appropriate way to handle these emotions.

No, these deaths were not the cause of all of my anxieties. However, every circumstance in our lives has the capability to shape who we ultimately become.

I didn’t know this as a ten-year-old girl, but fear was shaping who I was becoming.

Coping

By the time I was older, I had developed coping mechanisms that kept me living a “normal” life. I didn’t talk to anyone about my feelings or what I went through in my head. I learned to shove, shove, shove.

Due to this, a perpetual cloud of worry hung over my head. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop… so to speak. Over time and as life marched on, this feeling began to build in the back of my mind.

I decided that if stayed just one step in front of the worry monster, I could outrun it.

Until the day it caught up with me…

To be continued…

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!

 

I’m hanging out at the #tellhisstory, Betheeinspired, and  #TeaandWord link-ups today. Come join me and read some other encouraging blog posts!

   

Grace&Truth-300x300

 

611 Shares

22 Replies to “Anxiety and Depression Series – (Part 2) My Story”

  1. Oh I do not have appropriate words but I thank you for sharing such a powerful story of your life. I am in tears because though I do not know what it is like to lose a sibling, so many of your words hit home. I have experienced a lot of anxiety in my life since a child but never had a name for it either. Thank you so much for being open in your journey. I know this is going to help someone else out there. I hope to read the next part when you release it.

    1. Aw, Meghan thank you. You know how it feels and that dear sister, is exactly why we share! God’s comfort is given through our sharing and shedding light where it was once dark. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Susan, thank you for your willingness and your bravery to share your heart-wrenching story! While I don’t suffer with anxiety on a regular basis, I know there are a lot of women who do, and who need to hear your message. It is important!
    I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your brother… And more funerals than weddings by age 20?? Wow. I just can’t imagine.
    You are a warrior! Thank you for carrying on! <3

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel, your words are an encouragement! I am so thankful for God’s goodness and grace in my life. I love that we can look back at where we’ve been and we can see Him in it. I pray that others who have suffered in silence for years will be encouraged by the story of a girl that didn’t know there was hope for a long time. 🙂

    1. Yes, Heather, it does! It took me a long time to figure that out. My prayer is that by sharing my story others can come to see that much sooner, and find hope in Jesus! Thank you for your comment!

  3. My early childhood was made horrible because of childhood sexual abuse, continuing from age 18 months to 13 years, when my parents were divorced.

    Other than the details, you could have just written my story. I’m pinning this to my board depression – and I’m adding anxiety to that name, since so many of us have the combo. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    1. Wow Christi, Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with me today. I am so sorry for the pain you have endured. It is an inspiration to me that you are sharing hope and light from out of your pain. And yes- I will be getting into that whole anxiety/depression dynamic and how they just love to hang out together! Love to you dear sister!

  4. I’m so saddened about your loss and past heartache, but so eager to see how God’s grace changes everything in upcoming posts! I’m writing a Bible study resource about worry right now for my readers, and I came across the same fact about the original Greek word for anxiety. It’s so striking! It makes me think about how our minds are pulled in so many directions, but if we focus on Christ we find calm and assurance. Blessings, sister!

    1. Thank you, Dani. It is amazing, isn’t it! I love studying the original Greek and Hebrew words, it brings even more clarity to God’s word. So awesome! I would love to read that resource when you’re done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.