Most times you wouldn’t know that I’m experiencing it.
I think people assume that anxiety always looks one way—constant fidgeting, hyperventilating, nervous twitches, hyper activity, or even just a mental breakdown sort of anxiety attack.
My anxiety is much sneakier than that—let me tell you.
It is that constant tug on your brain that distracts you from anything you want to focus on. Sometimes that tug doesn’t even have a “name” or a purpose.
My anxiety is this tight feeling at the base of my stomach and my back. It makes it hard to sit and leaves me pacing just because it is too uncomfortable to sit down.
This thought process never seems to end. It seems logical, systematic, and linear until you realize an hour or so later that it never stopped.
I’ve never been called anxious.
My anxiety can seem overwhelming and completely consuming when no one on the outside would ever call me an anxious person.
Actually, people normally call me “chill,” “down-to-earth,” “realistic,” and “adventurous.”
Little do many people know that every action, every step, every breath, is premeditated with worst-case-scenario thinking. It takes very conscious effort to step out of my comfort zone—which nine times out of ten involves me on a couch with my dog and a book/Netflix.
Little do people know that sometimes it takes an unbelievable amount of energy to leave my house and see people… even as an extrovert.
Now let’s complicate this a little more.
Little 5-year-old Katie had this kind of anxiety, but had no idea that anxiety was what she was experiencing.
Being the tough, prideful, and resilient (stubborn) little girl she was, she decided to come up with her own sort of subconscious coping mechanism.
She would rather feel hungry than experience that unnamed anxious feeling. So, food became the controlling factor in maintaining a functional life with my anxiety.
Fast-forward to transitioning out of college. (As if there weren’t obvious issues before then…)
It was stressful with the constant change and loss of relationship and community, and I felt afraid, alone, and insecure in what life without school had to offer.
I had lost weight the year before—in a healthy way—but man, my anxiety tricked me.
I reverted back to old coping mechanisms—controlling my food in ways that I never had before. Because I was terrified to gain any weight back, my anxiety compounded and grew.
Anxiety was controlling my life in almost every way. But I can bet that I didn’t look anxious.
Actually, no one really noticed anything until one day someone called out my eating habits—but that wasn’t even the real issue.
The compounded anxieties along with the behaviors towards food left me feeling trapped and hopeless.
Now please, someone tell me that mental health isn’t all that complicated.
PLZ. Someone try and tell me that, as a Christian, I can simply pray it away.
Because the reality is that I only understand this because I went through some serious, intentional steps to get help and seek treatment.
I began taking medication to have a sound enough mind to process the complex emotions without having an anxiety attack every time I tried… and trust me, I TRIED.
And it was a pride check, for sure, when I realized that I could not do it.
Over a year later, it’s not over.
Actually, I am only writing this right now because I’m feeling so anxious that I can’t read the articles that I tried to read.
I feel the need to pace up and down the hallway. Sometime I feel the need to hop on a treadmill and control the way that my body feels. Other times I feel the need to go on some extreme diet so I have some sort of control over the anxiety that my body is experiencing.
But My Anxiety Is Rude.
I have to fight it intentionally. We have to recognize its tactics and mind games. I need to know the ways I want to cope and find healthier alternatives.
And ultimately, I need to give myself a little grace because no one expects me to have it all together—except myself.
Ultimately, we need to let ourselves experience the abundant grace that has been lavished upon us because our Creator gets it. He completely understands mental health and knows that we don’t.
Our struggles don’t shock him, and He isn’t even disappointed.
He is delighted and pleased that I have taken the first steps down this long road of fighting anxiety rather than letting it control every area of my life.
He is thrilled that my story and my experiences with mental health aren’t going to waste and that I get to behold his glory in this daily battle that I get to fight.
If you are fighting the same kind of battle—you’re not alone, please know that.
Freedom IS possible—and the victory is ours, because we have been redeemed.
Comment below and share the ways that you experience (and fight) anxiety.