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Overcoming Anxiety & Depression (by Nicole Boswell)

Editor's note: I have known Nicole for a long time, and never knew that she suffered from anxiety & panic attacks. We might think someone is "fine" on the surface, but unless we ask tough questions and really try to dig deep & find out how they're doing emotionally, mentally, & spiritually, we'll never fully get to a point where we can say that we "bear one another's burdens" as we are instructed to do in Galatians 6:2. Nicole was extremely passionate about writing this blog post, and we both pray that it will be an encouragement to someone who is struggling with anxiety & depression. ❤, Lauren

There are two types of anxiety/depression. The first and most common comes as a result of a situation. Some situations could be when someone passes away or gets sick, or when you lose a job. These cause sadness and stress. The emotions are brought about by circumstances. The second type of anxiety/depression is a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain. It is often not brought on by a specific situation. This is the type of anxiety/depression I want to focus on in this article. I link these two together because even though they may seem somewhat disconnected, they are, in some ways, connected. They are also treated by the same medications. With one often comes the other in some form. My husband and I both suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I also have friends who suffer from it. My goal for this article is to share my experiences and a few things I have learned along the way.

The first thing to remember is FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS. We as humans have come to rely on our educated conscience to guide our responses through life. But once anxiety/depression hits, we cannot always rely on our emotions to guide our actions anymore. The things we feel and the emotions that are going through our minds are not always logical. They are not always based on truth or facts. They are a result of a chemical imbalance. What you are feeling during the attacks of anxiety/depression should not cause you to react in such a way to cause concern. For instance, if you are panicking that the grass cannot breathe because of all of the snow on the ground, you don’t HAVE to go out and try to melt the snow. You are thinking irrationally because of your disorder. Likewise, if you are overwhelmed with feelings of “I’m never going to be happy again” you should not take that as the gospel truth. Allow for the fact that these feelings very often will eventually give way to more rational thought. Don’t make any life-altering changes till your rational mind comes back.

Second, find someone(s) you can talk to. My anxiety generally subsides after I talk to my husband. I tell him what my brain is telling me to feel. He will reassure me that it’s just my anxiety speaking. There is nothing wrong with the situation. I can go back to sleep. For some people they just need someone to sit with them so they don’t feel alone. Find someone you can text at 3am when you wake up panicking. Having a friend to help you in your darkest hour is critical.

Next, it is important to understand that needing the help of a professional and/or medication is not something to be ashamed of! Your brain is suffering with chemical deficiencies. If you go to a medical doctor when your body doesn’t know how to utilize insulin properly then why would it be wrong to go to a psychiatrist to get medication so your brain will use serotonin properly? For some reason your brain is not getting the chemicals it needs to process things logically. Therefore you need medication and/or professional help to retrain your brain on how to process things correctly again.

Finally, and actually most important, is our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Another key phrase I have learned in all of this is “Don’t forget in the darkness what you have learned in the light.” In other words, spend your good days studying His Word. Build your relationship with Christ and draw closer to Him during good days. That way when the darkness comes and you are struggling, you have the scriptural knowledge to lean on that will anchor you in God’s love. You have learned that He gives you the strength you need “Day by Day” (hymn reference). He will bring you through your struggles. Don’t forget His faithfulness to you.

One last phrase I have learned is “Don’t miss the good looking for perfection”. There will be some days that you feel only 50%, or maybe you have what my husband likes to call an emotional “hangover” from a very bad panic attack the night before. It’s ok. You need to take those days and be thankful that they are not worse. God has blessed you with time for a reprieve. He has given you a break from your intense struggle. Use it wisely! Use the time to draw closer to Him. Use it to build yourself back up. The day is an opportunity to be a blessing.

Just remember you are not alone in your struggles. You have allies. You have friends and you have a loving God who is always there to bring you through your struggles. Use them!

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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