Taming the Beast of Anxiety

1 Aug

OK, let’s be totally honest:

My name is Amanda and I struggle with anxiety.

I’ve always been the tightly wound, high strung, perfectionistic, type A personality.  When I was in second grade, my parents and teachers worried that I would end up with an ulcer because I was always worrying about doing my work “right.”  Let’s just say, not a lot has changed in 25 years.

However, the way that I’ve learned to cope with the gripping anxiety that can keep me awake at night, suffocating me and making me feel like I can’t breathe has changed—thanks be to God!  For the most part, I can keep the beast in line, but it takes work.

Here’s my artillery:

1.  Exercise:  every. single. morning. no matter how tired I am or how long of a night I’ve had, I must get up and walk.  The speed and length of time depends upon how wigged out I am with stress and anxiety, but the minimum is a half hour at a get you sweating, but not kill you speed.  I’ve been totally hopped up on stress prior to the walk and it always, always, always calms me down.

2.  Pray:  During my walks, I pray the Rosary, which is a series of prayers with some big guns, get the heck away from me devil content.  I’ve had some of my most insightful and powerful prayers in the early hours of the morning when I walk.

I also bring the anxiety to prayer throughout the day—especially if there is a situation that is causing it.  One of the most important things I’ve come to understand is that the devil knows all too well my weaknesses and he does everything in his power to use those to create anxiety.  But I know with certainty that anxiety is from the devil, not from God.  My God is one of love, and peace, and mercy.  To Him, I run to everyday and beg for the grace to be at peace.  I often grab a crucifix and lay it before me when I am praying.  I place my anxieties at the foot of the cross.  I give them to God, and ask Him to fill my heart and mind with HIS peace.

When I am feeling particularly attacked (because c’mon, spiritual warfare totally exists), I ask for close friends or family to pray for me.  I need help.  I am weak and I’m not too proud to admit that.  Jason often prays over me and together, we tell the devil to get back to hell!

For sure, I’d be in a very bad place without my faith.

3.  Diet:  Certain foods and beverages wig me out.  I pretty much don’t ever drink alcohol, not because I don’t like a good glass of wine, but because it makes me hyper-anxious.  I also never drink caffeine, because oh my geeeeeez that flips me out.  I also know that I can’t have chocolate after mid-afternoon, because sadly, that makes me too wired to fall asleep, which makes me anxious, and no amount of chocolate or coffee or wine are worth that crazy feeling.  It is strict, but my mental health is worth it to me.

4.  Talk:  I talk to my husband a lot.  Thankfully he is a great listener and has a way more laid back disposition.  He know just what to say (most of the time) to help bring me back to peace.  He is my earthly rock.

5.  Write:  I have journals full of my “working through it thoughts.”  And, yes, you may have noticed that rants show up on this little blog.  These are innocent, folks, I promise.  I’ve had friends and family email or call me, “Are you OK?”  Yes, totally.  I just write to process.  I’m an intense personality (or so my husband tells me), so it fits that my rants are intense, too.  Sorry.

6.  Vitamins:  Over the years, I’ve had numerous doctors try to prescribe me medications for anxiety.  To this point, I’ve never felt called to take anything.  I’m not comfortable with it and I hope I don’t have to go that route.  Instead, I work with a “natural” doctor who has tested various B-vitamins and other nutrition support to keep my mind a (mostly) happy place.  I have had amazing results going this route and I am so thankful for good doctors who do it differently.  I’m not saying anything about anyone who does take prescription meds.  I think in the end, we are all doing what we know and believe is best, and that is OK.

So, yeah, lately I can feel the anxiety mounting as I prepare our school curriculum, open up another atrium at church, and other life issues that aren’t appropriate to blog about.  I HATE THAT FEELING (yes, all caps is necessary).

And, I often find myself wishing my brain worked differently, but it doesn’t.  So I struggle, and I fall, but I always pick myself back up, through God’s grace, and do my best to kick the devil out of our house and my brain.  Because he is not welcomed.  The End.

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2 Responses to “Taming the Beast of Anxiety”

  1. Jason August 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Interesting, I never knew any of this about you… this explains a lot.

    Seriously, though, if I am your rock then you’re my Mt. Everest. There will never be any anxiety we can’t work through together, and it always seems to draw us closer (take that, Devil!) Reading this reminds me of how grateful I am to have gotten to a place in our lives where we recognize these things about ourselves, and we know how to deal with them. Thank God for that!

  2. Katie August 2, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Sigh. Yes. I needed to read this today. I REALLY REALLY need to go back to work if only to get myself on my eating/sleeping/etc schedule that keeps me sane. It’s soooo hard for me when I am home filling everyone else’s demands first except my own. It means i eat something quickly (that is not always the “cleanest” food). It means that when I get a moment of quiet, I read or nap instead of exercise because I JUST NEED QUIET. Something has to give because I am so full of anxiety about the start of school.

    My main goal for this new school year is working in yoga or something that is both fitness and relaxation. When I used to go, I used the 10 minute “mediation” time to pray. It was amazing.

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