Anxiety is the actual worst.
It wasn’t until I began going to therapy that I realized just how anxious I was: negative self-talk going through my head, assuming people thought the worst of me, fearing meeting new people because they would not like me, etc., etc., etc.
No matter the circumstance, I thought I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. I was afraid depression would get the best of me, it would consume me and overtake my life and I would never be the same again. I was afraid I would never amount to anything, that I was not adequate enough to achieve any of my dreams — no matter how big or small.
For me, I think the hardest thing about anxiety is the overwhelming fear, whether that is fear of social outings and meeting new people, fear of the future and doubt in myself to make it where I want to be, or even fear of myself and my potential — what if I actually am capable of doing things greater than I could imagine?
When it comes down to it, anxiety comes from negative, false thoughts.
That is what my sweet and ever-helpful therapist, Chelsey, told me. She said these anxious thoughts are always pessimistic, always untrue, always outrageous even though they seem perfectly credible in the moment.
So how do I combat anxiety? I replace the negative self-talk and hurtful thoughts with absolute, positive truths. When these terrible thoughts flood in, I try to come up with a truth that is the polar opposite, and usually they come from scripture. For example:
- I am afraid I am ugly and unwanted. But in reality, The King is enthralled by my beauty (Psalm 45:11).
- I am afraid I am alone and always will be. But in reality, God is with me and He upholds me by His righteous hand (Isaiah 41:10).
- I am afraid I will always wrestle with anxiety and never find peace. But in reality, Jesus leaves his peace with us and tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid (John 14:27).
It is hard struggling with anxiety and it is hard combating it. It is hard being a victim to these false thoughts and it is hard finding a way out of them. It is hard feeling like I am alone in this struggle and no one else understands what it’s like.
But that is why there are lovely people, supportive and kind and helpful people like Chelsey who refuse to let me face this battle alone. And even though I feel lonely and isolated when I struggle, the reality is several others suffer from anxiety, as well. The reality is we are never alone in this fight.
We have others who have the same or similar struggles, who are victims of anxiety or depression or another mental illness. We have others who, though they may not know what it’s like, want to help and be by our sides and love us deeply.
If I could give someone who struggles with anxiety any advice, it would be this:
Find your village. Find your people. Find your encouragers. Find those who will be in your corner no matter what you are feeling. Find those who are not afraid to hear about your thoughts and listen to your pain. Find those who will love you at all times, in all circumstances, no matter what.
After all, you are never alone.