Yesterday, I acknowledged my anxiety disorder publicly. The response has been very kind and I truly appreciate it. I also have some very close friends locally who have been a tremendous help to me.
I thought I would do a quick follow-up. I am not an expert, just someone who is taking one step at a time, but here are some things that help me.
First, when anyone would like to talk, I do much, much better with specific times. “Can we talk at 3:00 PM on Thursday?” I put it in my calendar. That is a huge help to me.
Second, I have found that self-care is extremely important. I have started walking with Susan every morning. I turn the phone off when I need to. I spend time in prayer and simply meditating on God’s promises or nature or some theological point that I am mulling over.
I try to take a break when I need one.
I remember God’s people and pray for them, going down the list in my mind.
On truly bad days, I run through the fingering of Bach’s French Suites in my mind. If I have time, I do it physically on the piano. The act of running your fingers through patterns is strangely calming.
I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I avoid toxic people as much as I can. I know that there are certain people that will cause me a sleepless night, so if I do have to meet with them, I will plan on not sleeping that night. I will get my headphones ready, and my kindle, and prepare some calming exercises. Strangely, this seems to help. I guess it gives the illusion of control.
Medications help. They are not a cure, but they calm the mind so it can start to work properly.
Someone wrote that anxiety is dwelling either in the past or the future. We fret over things in the past that we can’t change. Or we fret over the future over which we have no control. To calm myself, I remember Jesus’ words, grounding me in the present. Take no thought for tomorrow. Which of you by worrying can add a moment to your lifespan?
Breathing deeply, counting the breaths. In. Out. In. Out. Five things that I can see. Five things that I can touch. Five things that I can hear. Breathe. In. Out.
God remembers that we are dust. He remembers our frailty. He doesn’t put near as many burdens on us as we heap on ourselves. “Come to me”, Jesus said, “And I will give you rest.”
I have a coloring app on my phone. It is surprising how much it helps me.
I take comfort in the encouragements of scripture – take no thought for tomorrow. Be anxious for nothing. In everything give thanks.
And I thank God that these are not commands barked at me by a sergeant-at-arms, but the lullabies of a merciful heavenly father soothing a troubled heart.
And above all, get help. Talk to people. Use words. Call things by their names.
Help is there. But you have to admit that you need it.