Today I begin with a revelation. I used to relish living with stress.
I have tiptoed around a diagnosed anxiety disorder topic but stopped short of the details. Today that ends. I have someone to introduce. Meet my enemy, Anxiety. It left me in a state of spinning out of control. My ability to focus diminished while I simultaneously watched the to-do list rise and could not decide which item to tackle first. Instead, I often found myself frozen, like a statue, with inaction. Have you ever been there?
I was out of control, yet completely stationary.
After some research [online-rabbit-hole searching] followed by actual testing, I was undeniably sure I had ADHD. I sat in my doctor’s office with tears welling up on the verge of overflowing. He listened with compassion as I described feeling trapped with symptoms I couldn’t label.
He didn’t want to scare me with the word “depression,” but at that point, I felt I had done everything I could, and I would have taken any word [and any meds] if it would help me to feel like “me” again.
That is how the vicious scoundrel named Anxiety will attack you. Even if you are doing “all the good things,” your fight, often including [prayer, working out, coaches, and tears], will not win the battle, much less the war.
Though the examiner did not see enough signs showing ADHD during my testing, she did say my memory scores were so low she contemplated reaching out to ask me if I had ever been in an accident that would have caused a brain injury. [What?!]
In her book, Believe It, Jamie Kern Lima said that she was so overworked that her short-term memory completely disappeared. She couldn’t remember anything. [Yasss! That was me!]
The doctor also shared that when you have anxiety, you lose focus. He said elderly patients think they have dementia, but it is actually undiagnosed depression. Once they are on medication for a few months, they get their memory back. [Crazy, right?]
The “stuff” we take on as women warriors can literally cause the resemblance of brain trauma to our bodies. There is enough dramatic tragedy in the world; can we please make a stand not to bring it on ourselves?
I took the advice from my doctor and proceeded with medication for anxiety, though candidly, it was not the magic pill of instant gratification I had hoped for. I also slowed down the pace of my life, made decisions with conviction, and the meds did help regulate balance in my body. One day, after about six months on the medication, I accidentally missed a dose. Soon after, I stopped requiring it as my remedy altogether.
I cry more now without my special pills. I feel more now and feel more like myself again too. Anxiety still creeps in, but at least it has a name, and I can recognize it.
Sometimes, in the middle of my workday, when I should be prepping for my next call, I’ll realize my focus is fading. As the frozen state of inaction or the spinning out of control begins to take shape, I now choose to grab the Bible, a devotional, or a journal, and I leave my desk to sit outside. I give myself grace for some dang mental health, even during my workday.
3 Things I’ve learned… about Anxiety
Anxiety weighs down a heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
1.Stop doing it all on your own.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
I didn’t think I would resort to medication in a million years, but it turns out it wasn’t a resort; it was a rescue allowing my family to thrive.
An exceptional teacher once told me that medication saved her daughter’s life directly. Though a prescription may not be your answer, maybe some of these tips are.
- Enjoy a house cleaner, outsource the mess
- Pay a babysitter so you can go on a date with your husband
- Take a rendezvous with yourself [That sounds amazing, actually!]
- Allow yourself a break to get still with God and read His word
2. Do Less.
“The LORD will fight for you while you keep still.” Exodus 14:14
I know this one is hard. As women, mommas, wives, sisters, daughters, etc… we have a lot on our plate. One of the most recent checks and balances that has helped me here is when I say “yes” I put it on my calendar.
John C. Maxwell, a Leadership Guru states, “Say no to the good so you can say YES to the best!” If I choose to say yes and commit to something, it goes directly on my calendar.
Need some examples?
- I need to send a follow-up email – it goes on my calendar.
- I have the intention of moving my body – it gets listed too.
- I have to call and schedule my daughter’s annual doctor’s appointment – added!
- The calendar invite pops up, I mismanaged my time and can’t complete it now – I do not delete the time block, it is just relocated to a new time
This process has allowed for a few very beneficial advancements in my life. Some mornings, I will wake up with full panic when I take the first glance at my calendar screaming to myself, “OMG it is FULL!” but then, I realize, it is full with my to-do list, and time to actually get it done.
This practice gets my “to-dos” out of my head and on paper, but it also gives me the opportunity to know that the time is blocked for what I said “yes” to. If I cannot fit it in, I say no.
3. Give it to God.
“Casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
This is a process I am working on all day, every day. But more and more, I realize I cannot do it on my own and I pray, “God, please step in here. Clear my calendar, help me say no, make my eyes open to the path you have laid for me and help me walk in confidence.”
The good news is it is biblical to give it to him and he cares.
For one final bonus step, on the rare occasion, I binge-watch a TV show or shop till I drop, I remember that it is biblically correct to enjoy life. [Ecclesiastes 9:7]
The truth is usually in the middle, work hard [Ecclesiastes 5:3] but allow yourself balance and peace. Lean into the scriptures and pray for what your “middle” answer is from Him. God alone will provide all you need… time, deep breaths, a prescription, or simply the time of being still. Savor it!