Featured in July/August 2018 issue of TOI Magazine.
In the past struggling with generalized anxiety disorder at first, I felt even more worthless and unlovable. I was never officially diagnosed. But I practically had all the symptoms and these symptoms went on for years and I was high functioning in my struggle. The worst that it got was 3 years ago and I stopped driving and I was experiencing panic attacks once a day at least. During this time I had felt useless to myself and to those around me. I felt I had nothing to offer of value to others or something worth giving to someone. I thought no one cared; not my family, not my friends, not my church, and not God. They expressed in words that they cared but they couldn't relate to me so that resulted in an apathetic emotional abandonment. I knew my family and friends cared about me but they didn't care enough to help me get better. When you struggle with something for so long it's hard to believe that anything could ever change or get better. I felt this ruined me like a car after it's been in a severe accident. I felt so destroyed by life and by my worried thoughts and didn't really know if it was possible for me to keep living it. I felt so much shame from my panic attacks and how needy I felt. I felt so much guilt about needing serious help and put so much blame on myself for where I was in life and felt like everything in my life to this point was my fault which resulted in lots of bitter feelings toward myself and self-hatred. I felt so bitter about my life and the negative experiences that had happened from my panic attacks growing up and my parents marriage falling apart when I was 10 and dropping out of college because my anxiety was too overwhelming. By God's grace after all that and going through this recovery workbook I went through, I am not in that emotional place of death anymore. My thought life is so much healthier and balanced now. I didn't take any anxiety medications during this whole process let alone my whole life. Out of my gratitude for God loving me and allowing me to heal so much emotionally and physically from all of those destructive emotions that I carried for years and all the overused fight or flight responses abusing my body and brain, I now facilitate anxiety recovery support groups and walk with people through the same workbook that I went through. People that struggle with generalized anxiety are so worth loving and they are worth so much more than walking in the dark for years of their life with GAD thinking it's impossible for them to recover. I used to think it was impossible for anything good to come out of the struggle that I've had for majority of my 27 years of life but I'm very grateful that I was wrong. I'm grateful to live the life I have now with the challenges that I have. For me, recovery is a lifelong everyday practice and without my relationship with Jesus and His unconditional love I would have not made it this far and would have given up in life a long time ago with complete seriousness.
The way I battle and counter these anxious thoughts is by not avoiding them when I experience them. When these anxious thoughts and scary thoughts pop up on the movie screen of my brain, I first recognize that the scary thoughts are a distractions designed to distract me from emotional or physical pain. I also remember that these scary thoughts are part of my own creativity used against myself. I have a talk with God and receive his love for me in that moment knowing he doesn't judge me for the thoughts passing through my brain and I remember that these scary thoughts are temporary negative distractions helping me not think about things in real life that I prefer to avoid thinking about or to emotionally process. Being able to distinguish two types of thoughts is very helpful for me. there are anxious thoughts that are concrete and part of real life for example being homeless or having bills to catch up on losing our home not getting work. Then there are scary thoughts and an example of those thoughts would be what if I got Alzheimer's and forgot who I was, what if I forget my name, what if I just lose my mind and go crazy. And it's these thoughts that I perceive as useless and have no value to me and when something has no value it's almost like it doesn't exist. Instead of getting distracted by these thoughts and not spend an exhausted amount of mental emotional and physical energy on these thoughts, I can spend a lot more time doing stuff that I really want to do in my life instead of worrying about stuff that will never happen or worrying about stuff that are misbeliefs and lies. Do I still worry? Yes. Do I still experience generalized anxiety? Yes at times because anxiety is a human emotion that we must experience. Do I still experience scary thoughts? Yes, but I know how to handle this struggle now and instead of it holding me prisoner I'm holding it prisoner and this thorn in my side is a stepping stool for my good now. Using scripture verses and replacing them with God's word in the Bible extremely helps me feel safe and confident and worth enough (look up 2 Cor 10:5). When are self esteem is strong and we know the Truth these lies and misbeliefs cannot emotionally manipulate us anymore or deceive us even in our weakest moments.