“‘I need you to love me a little louder today.’
This is what I now tell people when I am having a bad day and struggling with anxiety. When people used to ask how they could help, I couldn’t give them an answer, but after years of battling I have come to this conclusion: I just need them to love me a little louder on the days when I feel unloveable.
Anxiety sometimes can get the best of you. Anyone who struggles with this area can totally understand. It’s like you wake up not knowing why you feel the way you feel… and your brain is going a million miles per hour. Your heart is beating so fast and sometimes you even forget to breathe. The worst feeling is trying to hold back a panic attack in public. And even when things are wonderful… you’re always waiting for something terrible to happen because it feels like it is bound to happen, right? You feel powerless, guilty over nothing, and you panic about what’s to come or things that haven’t even come. Big groups make you feel uncomfortable. And sometimes you fight your way through every day so much so that the next day you are physically and mentally exhausted. Sleep and stress eating has also been an escape for me. You isolate yourself and feel less than, unworthy…not fit to conquer the world. You don’t feel good enough in the purpose you were called to do. Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear. Any of this resonate with anyone? This just scratches the surface of a million feelings and reactions you go through when battling anxiety.
This is my life. I battle with anxiety everyday…and each day it’s a battle I fight. Every day I try to choose against this. Some days it works… some days it doesn’t. But surrounding myself with people who are a comfort, who don’t judge me, and who are there for me is key. People who are safe and you can let know how to calm you down. People who let you talk it out, even if you have no idea what you are saying or thinking. People who pray for you and fill you with words of Life. People who don’t judge you. Who are constantly rooting for you when you have bad days. Who hug you when they see you need a hug and who let you cry on their shoulder. People who remind you to breathe. And remind you of who you truly are…those that remind you that anxiety doesn’t define who you are, and remind you that it doesn’t make you less than. And the most important one of these are: knowing that God is bigger than your anxiety and you will overcome the fight and the battle within your mind.
A few years ago, I dated a guy who made me feel less than for struggling with anxiety. I so vividly remember the hurt and the shame I felt for struggling with it.
I was in a super hard season where I was experiencing anxiety more than ever. And to cope with it, I would get high. For a while, I thought it ‘helped,’ but really…it was a coping mechanism that just made me numb to it. And when I wasn’t high, I felt like I needed to get high so badly to finally feel calm and forget the world. This became a horrible habit for a while. It was a temporary fix for a few hours, but it was nothing that truly fixed the struggles I was going through. I quickly realized I needed to stop.
During this time, I was dating a guy who encouraged me to get high to ‘fix’ the problem. And so, our relationship turned into this thing where most of the time we were high instead of truly investing in our relationship, and you can only imagine how toxic that was.
One night, we went out on the town with some friends. I remember this clear as day because he made me feel so ashamed of struggling with anxiety. I had too much to drink that night and that only makes things worse. I went to the bathroom and thought my current boyfriend was going to wait for me, and instead, I couldn’t find him after. I had men trying to hit on me and I felt so scared and uncomfortable. Then all of a sudden, I saw a guy from my past. I was a victim to sexual assault from this man, and I immediately had a panic attack. You see, what I went through in the past had bought on many things like anxiety, PTSD, and depression. So when I saw him, it was a trigger for me. I found my current boyfriend and told him we had to go. I didn’t explain why because in that moment, it was as if my brain shut off. All I could do is feel fear, embarrassment and anxiety. My boyfriend got so upset with me. He started to yell at me in our Uber.
‘You need to get over it,’ he said. ‘You are being ridiculous and shouldn’t have reacted that way.’
He told me I was in the wrong for not telling him why we were leaving. He told me I was ‘too emotional.’ The list goes on. I will spare you the details of the remaining hurtful things he said. But it impacted me in such a negative way. It was in that moment, I felt ashamed for the anxiety I struggle with. I thought I needed to become numb to it all. So I did, and that brought on more issues.
Fast forward, I was overseas for 6 months on a mission trip and it was there I was able to release the numbness and truly feel again. I was surrounded by people who reminded me of who I am and how God sees me. I was reminded that anxiety doesn’t define who I am…but I also want to let you know that just because I was able to release some of it…doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle. But I do know, I have come a long way!
Here are some of the things that have helped me to overcome anxiety when it comes over me:
Remember to breathe. Breathe in, hold it… breathe out. And rest. Know that everything is going to be okay…there is so much goodness in store in this life. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Choose to believe that. Know that your feelings are valid. It’s okay to feel, it’s human.
Be vulnerable. As someone who battles with anxiety almost on a daily basis, it is often hard to admit and talk about. But something I promised myself at the end of last year is that I would always be vulnerable and honest with not only people in real life, but on social media as well. I want to be vulnerable so you can see that I don’t live a perfect life but also so that anyone who struggles can feel free to be open and honest too. I want it to be a safe place on my social medias, a place where people can feel free to admit their brokenness and struggles and feel safe while doing so.
Vulnerability brings freedom. It brings a sense of release…it allows you to truly believe that you are not defined by it, but it’s merely something you struggle with. It brings you people that you can encourage and it reminds you that you’re not alone.
Cope, and process. So often I have allowed my anxiety to take over my mind so much that I’ve let it get in the way of not only the big things, but little things as well. I have allowed myself to miss days of life just because I wanted to lay in bed and not deal with anyone or anything. Don’t get me wrong, having days to yourself is totally okay! But don’t let anxiety and fear win. Know how to not just cope, but learn how to process those feelings. I get it, sometimes you don’t even know why you feel the way that you feel. And trust me — right now I am totally preaching to myself. Just this week I had anxiety because I was struggling with fear of failure. But I’ve quickly been able to overcome it by practicing these exercises below.
First, I ask myself this question: what is the root of the anxiety I am feeling today?
Asking this question and breaking it down really helps me to see that maybe what I am feeling isn’t so scary. It helps me to release my emotions and truly breathe.
I woke up today feeling so much better. I woke up with a different perspective and I also woke up with the mindset that I am going to choose to fight the anxiety and to speak life into those things I am fearful of. The power of your words is so powerful. What you speak into the world gives it power, so choose wisely.
- Stop calling it ‘my anxiety’. You are not defined by anxiety. It doesn’t own you. And by saying it’s yours, it gives it the power to overrule your mind and soul. This is something that has truly taken me awhile to remember but has made the most impact.
- Breathe in, breathe out
- Play cards or color: These are so mindless. They take my mind to another place I didn’t think I could go. It really helps me to process a lot.
- Simply talk to a friend or your parent.
- Go on a walk
- Write down what you are thankful for: this helps my mind get into the right mindset. Writing these things instantly changes my mood and helps me to remember what is important!
- Remember to always write out your feelings and your current state. It is so helpful and it allows you to not bottle it all up inside.
Anxiety isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Most of us experience it on different levels. It is a real thing that so many struggle with. It is okay to open up to those you feel safe around about it. Sometimes you feel like you are a burden, but I promise you are not a burden to them. If they say you are — then they were never your true friend. Friends are there for you through your good and your bad. Surround yourself with people who are willing to speak life into you and who know how they can help you through this.
Know that you are not alone. Please reach out to those who can help you. Know that it is okay to admit when you are struggling. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are less than or’ too emotional.’ There is a light at the end of your tunnel. And remember, if you know of someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression, love them a little louder than you normally would because even if they don’t admit it, they desire it.
I want to leave you with this hope…I like to call this the butterfly effect.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but we rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve its beauty. When I see a butterfly, I am reminded that it goes through many stages to become the beautiful butterfly. We, too, have to go through challenges, trials and hardships to be molded and shaped into who we are destined to be. How beautiful is it that God created a butterfly almost as a metaphor to us that it takes going through those stages to become a beautiful masterpiece? It reminds us, that we are not held bondage to anxiety or depression…that we can have freedom to become beautiful butterflies and bless people throughout. That spreading our story, can truly impact many others who struggle with seeing that they too, are becoming a butterfly.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Arianna Marie Tucker. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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