Tag Archives: anxiety

For Those Who Don’t Understand

Living with a mental illness can often be a living hell. Before you try to tell me I’m being dramatic, you should reasses how you view mental illness. The name, in and of itself, says ILLNESS. It’s not a choice I make. I don’t CHOOSE to be depressed. I don’t CHOOSE to be anxious. I don’t CHOOSE to be emotionally unstable. And yet, I am all of those things.  

 I know many people who, although they mean well, simply don’t get it. I’ve been told, “just be happy,” or “stop worrying,” or “can’t you just calm down,” or “just be normal, like everyone else.” The problem with all of these statements is that it completely invalidates who I am and what I feel. What if you told someone with a broken leg to just get up and walk? Unless you’re Jesus, you just sound like an idiot. Same concept.  

 My feelings, while you may not understand them (and don’t worry, because I often don’t understand them either), are just as legitimate as yours. My life might look okay from the outside, so you can’t understand why I feel the way I do. But on the inside, I’m a mess of emotions and chaos. You may not understand my overwhelming fear of being in large crowds or my tendency to completely shut down when I’m upset, but that doesn’t make it any less real. 

We live in a world that caters to healthy people. But when you’re healthy, you don’t realize how true that is. Until you’ve fought a war against yourself, every day of your life, you can’t understand how hard it is to function in a world that isn’t made for you. 

 I’m tired of being ashamed and trying to hide my mental illness. Because you know what, Jesus loves me even with my self-harm scars and anxiety and watery eyes and depression and PTSD and my inability to focus – He loves all of me. And if Jesus isn’t ashamed of my mental illness, then why should I be. 

So next time you meet someone who seems a bit more anxious than you think necessary or more sad than you think they should be, try having some compassion instead of judgement. Those of us with mental illnesses feel our emotions – whether happy or sad, on a much deeper level than most.  

 We’re not trying to make your life more difficult. We’re simply trying to get through life the only way we know how. 


Running from Anxiety

It was almost 3 years ago that I started running. As someone who HATED running with a fiery passion, it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. For the first time in my life o had found a healthy way to cope with my depression and anxiety…that was, until I shattered a bone in my foot. 

  
After a year of running hard, I was sidelined while I had surgery to remove the shattered sesamoid bone. This was the start of my downward spiral. All of a sudden, my coping mechanism was stolen from me and I didn’t know how to deal wmy anxiety anymore. 

Over the last 15 months, I have had 5 surgeries. After months of recovery, I’ve finally been given clearance to run again. But now, I’ve also developed plantar fasciitis. It’s incredibly painful and, at times, I can barely walk. 

I’m frustrated! I miss the feeling of the wind in my hair as I run down the road. Running gives me a sense of freedom that I can get from anything else. Running calms my anxious heart. It helps me decompress when I can’t make sense of my off the wall emotions. Running has done more for my mental health than any of my medications have. 

I’m planning on running a half marathon in 15 weeks – the Saddle Blazer half in Killeen, Texas on February 27. The Monday after thanksgiving, I’ll be starting my official training program. I’m incredibly nervous. But also so excited. 

My biggest fear with this half marathon training is that I’ll re-injure myself and have running taken away from me again. 

Running is a gift, a blessing. Don’t take it for granted. Running helps me to understand the chaos of this world. It helps me find meaning in a life that sometimes feels meaningless. It helps me connect with God in a way that nothing else can.  

   

So if you tell me I need to stop running, that it’s bad for my knees, that I need to find another way to cope…I’m going to tell you that running has changed my life and given me the courage to keep pushing even when I’m tired and scared. Quitting isn’t an option! 


The Socially Anxious Introvert

In a world that seems to be dominated by extroverts (of course, because introverts don’t generally have as much of a desire to fill the limelight) it is hard to be an introvert without feeling like there’s something wrong with me.

Let me start by explaining what an introvert is and what an introvert isn’t.

An introvert isn’t just someone who is shy and doesn’t like people.

An introvert is someone who very much loves people, has a great deal of compassion and affection for others, but who also is physically and emotionally drained by spending time with other people.

An introvert isn’t a shut-in who avoids the world at all costs.

An introvert is someone who, although he/she enjoys spending time with family and friends, desperately needs to spend time alone to recharge and relax.

An introvert isn’t a rude person who simply doesn’t want to talk to you.

An introvert is bad at small talk and finds small talk tiring and uncomfortable.

I am an introvert and I also have social anxiety.  Social anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, dread, or apprehension about social interaction and presentation. Introversion and social anxiety, when combined, can be a toxic mix.

The weird thing about me, even though I am a socially anxious introvert, is that I enjoy public speaking and performing. I love talking in front of people (as long as it is planned out and practiced) and I love performing worship on Monday nights at Celebrate Recovery. But as I say I enjoy these things, that doesn’t make them any less emotionally draining on me. I need quiet, alone time to emotionally recoup from this level of interaction.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I HATE talking on the phone. If I don’t answer my phone when you call or I don’t call you back, don’t take it personally. If you text me, or contact me any of the other 10 ways I can be contacted through my iPhone (technology humor, lol) that don’t actually require me to talk to you, I’ll probably send you a pretty speedy response.

Here’s another thing about introverts, we communicate much more effectively through writing or other non-verbal forms of communication. I have some friends and family who get frustrated by this, but what you need to understand about me (or whoever the introvert is in your life) is that I love and I care about you very deeply, but I will never be able to express that in the same as my extroverted counterparts.

Due to my social anxiety, I also find it hard to make true and lasting friends. I get anxiety at the simple thought of making a phone call to someone I don’t know…and sometimes even to people I do know. I have anxiety about going to the grocery store, going to church, attending Bible studies, taking my daughter to school, going to family events at my husband unit…you name it, if it involves being around other people (especially people I don’t know) it causes me anxiety.

Now, combine my introversion and social anxiety…what you get is a lot of anxiety attacks and tears.

So we’ve already covered that introverts have a desperate physical NEED for quite, alone time…away from ALL other people. Let’s talk about how hard this is as a wife and mother.

As a wife and mom, I spend almost all day, every day with either my kids or my husband. I have very little, if any, time to tune out the world and refocus myself. What happens when days, weeks, or even months, pass without being able to find that quite time to recharge? Anxiety skyrockets and tempers soar. Social anxiety becomes exacerbated and social interactions become fewer and fewer.

An introvert who isn’t able to fulfill the very deep need for alone time becomes a ticking time bomb. My husband, and most of my family, has seen this side of me on many occasions. I try to hold it together and do things like normal, but with each passing day, my heart beats a little faster and my head pounds a little harder. I can, physically, feel the effects of it in my body. An introvert CANNOT be expected to function like an extrovert, at least not for very long.

It’s hard though, to explain to the people I love the absolute most – my husband and children, that sometimes I just can’t be around them. Sometimes I need them to just leave me alone so I can pray, cry, write, think, read, take a bath…just recharge my heart, mind, and soul. But one BIG lesson I’ve learned in recent months is that it’s better to apologize to them for retreating to the back of the house or out on a run for an hour or so than to have to apologize for angry words that cannot be taken back. You are not a bad parent or spouse just because you take time off to take care of yourself – in fact, that makes you pretty awesome!

Introverts, my advice to you is to accept who you are as an introvert. We cannot be extroverts, we never will be. God made us this way for a reason and the world needs us just as much as it needs extroverts. Take pride in who you are. Learn to know your limits. Know when it’s time for you to spend time alone, but don’t use it as an excuse to shut out the world completely.

Extroverts, don’t try to pressure your introverted loved ones into being an extrovert. Acknowledge that we have different personalities and be okay with that. The world needs us both.

But whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, that’s not your identity. Although your personality is one or the other, our identities are still all found in Christ…after all, that’s what truly matters.


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