My “book” is a hot mess right now. It’s so hard to see how all the pieces of the puzzle go together. I won’t get into details. I still have a lot of content to write. I’m at a standstill, and in an expression of surrender, I’m just going to share a part (since the structure is so stuck and I don’t know where to work). It’s not polished–it’s not even smooth. It’s still rough, but I don’t care. Let me know your thoughts. Ugh.
Sitting on my bed, I stared into my laptop’s glowing screen in disbelief.
When I started researching my diagnosis, the room was sunilt. Now it was dark and I was alone with nothing to see but the failed search results mocking my loneliness.
Don’t get me wrong, even back in 2007 when I was diagnosed, “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” yielded a slew of helpful resources–more than I could scroll and click and read through. It was a great relief to learn that my malady had a name that carried bulleted symptoms that understood the muddled, tangled, indecipherable chaos that had hijacked my mind and body. I wasn’t alone, and this plague was reduced to words paper. There was hope.
And yet… there I was, 24 year old me, sitting on the same frilly twin bed I sat on as an obnoxious sixth grader. But now my family lived elsewhere, and it was just me living in my childhood home rent-free during my hideous first year of teaching while earning my Masters degree by doing time in coffee shops. I cried myself to sleep every night. And even now, reliving it, I feel my anxiety creeping back as my throat tightens.
There was another part of myself about which the internet was silent. A part of myself that was not comforted. It was the part, actually, that holds my entire self together. According to the church’s silence, I was alone–the only Christian experiencing the kind of crippling anxiety that devotionals wouldn’t mention.
Long before I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I had Jesus. I still do. Actually, he’s had me. And since He’s at the core of my beliefs and values, most of my anxious thoughts have “CHRISTIANITY” or “THEOLOGY” tattooed on their forehead. I’m talking about cyclical thoughts condemning me for throwing eternity off its axis, and turning sitting or standing during musical worship into a moral crisis on which others’ salvation teetered. These thoughts brought with them 7 ft. tall meatheads who shot me with adrenaline, squeezed my throat, quickened my shallowing breaths, made my fingers tingle and my chest tighten. Nobody in the churches I’d been to ever talked about that kind of anxiety.
I knew, however, as a lover of literature, that nobody is all alone–underneath it all, we are one human race with more similarities than we are likely to ever realize. There was no way I was the only Christian with this struggle. I had to find my other sisters and brothers who were suffering through this. I needed to hear they were struggling with my struggles, I needed to absorb what they had learned, I needed their wisdom and guidance and fellowship and even commiseration. I needed their testimonies–for hope and unity and for reassurance of my own sanity.
So as the sun sunk and my bedroom grew dark, I dug deeper into the interwebs. I tried adding “Christian” to “Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” which yielded the practices of local Christian therapists. I already had a therapist. So I tried “Jesus.” More Christian therapists, plus some books about worry and trusting God. I tried “Christian.” I tried “religion.” I tried broadening my search from “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” to “anxiety disorder” to plain old “anxiety.” By the time I reduced GAD to “anxiety,” articles and organizations and famous Christian leaders and writers emerged. My hopes fell like dominoes with each URL that offered the same exact perspective as the previous. Each article, each blog was founded on the premise that anxiety (and depression for that matter) is a solely spiritual struggle to be resolved by solely spiritual Truths and corrections. “Revise your theology,” essentially.
They offered spiritual truths and reminders of God’s provision, promises, nearness, and sovereignty. But those truths–the ones they expounded and reflected and applied–were not new to me. I had the great privilege of being raised in them, and I have embraced them as far back as memory takes me. I still hold them true. As a matter of fact, it’s that very nearness and faithfulness of God that sustained me through the pain inflicted by this new and hideous thorn in my flesh.