One morning I woke up and couldn’t move my body. My brain was screaming “Get up! Get up!”. My body remained motionless, ignoring the directives to move my limbs.
That was the first time I experienced sleep paralysis. I knew I dreaded the day ahead. That’s anxiety’s job; to immobilize your mind and body. I’ve struggled with the condition since I was six; I didn’t have a name for the condition, but I was a worrisome child. I remember if my mom or dad was late coming home from work or picking me up from after school program I’d start to panic, chest constricting and start sobbing. I knew that they had been killed in a horrible car accident or murdered in the mean streets of the City. My mind always veered toward the worst case scenario and I developed a form of insomnia. My mind kept replaying all that could go wrong, all the ways I or someone I love could die. I hated when the telephone rang; the dread would creep up my stomach and I rushed toward my mom, frantically asking “who is it, who is it?”.
Anxiety filled other areas of my life. I purposely performed poorly in elementary school because if I made honor roll, the principal would call me up to the stage in front of all my peers. I was afraid of being laughed at and booed if I walked across the stage. I had anxiety about crossing the street. Dogs. Being called on in class. Driving. Getting into a car accident.
Last year was the breaking point. I finally began therapy in September of 2020. I’m blessed to have a therapist who is a Christian. One of the first points she made was “Anxiety is not of God”.
If anxiety is not of God, then it must be from the other guy.
According to the American Psychological Association anxiety is defined as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety usually have recurrent intrusive thoughts or concerns”.
God understands the human condition, so He specifically addresses anxiety head on. He knows that satan uses anxiety to rob us of our peace. One of my anchor scripture is in Philippians 4: 6-7 where the Word of God reads “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God; and let the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (New King James Version) .
My therapist encouraged me to clothe myself with that scripture anytime my mind wandered toward worst case scenarios. When battling anxiety, helpful remedies included
- Praying and reading scripture
- Speaking or thinking of anchor Bible verses about anxiety
- Taking an intrusive thought and speaking the positive
- Herbal tea
- Being in places that provide a sense of peace: a library or quiet part of a park
- Deep breathing and tapping exercises
- Consistently seeing my therapist
I’m still learning various techniques to quell anxiety, but most importantly I understand that I don’t have to claim anxiety. I used to say, “my anxiety is flaring”. I do not have to own anxiety. Another scripture that helps is 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast your anxieties on him because He cares for you”. We are given explicit permission to let go of our anxiety and give it to God.
I’m not 100% cured of anxiety because, like most mental health struggles, the condition takes time to subside. Supports like therapy, deep breathing, prayer and other techniques are extremely helpful. I’m grateful to share my story and help those with similar stories. To God be the glory!