So I had my first anxiety attack in a while yesterday. I knew it was coming and it started with a loud environment (where I could hear EVERY WORD around me – except at my table – and those stupid video game sounds from an iPad on full-blast across the dining room), and a large group of family. I sat in a seat in front of not one, but two, barriers and surrounded by my family. I made it through lunch with deep breaths and stopped the tears before they started. That time.
Within a few hours, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, everything was too bright and too loud, and I lost it.
Anxiety sucks. It never leaves. It’s dormant for a while (thanks to breakthroughs in modern medicine and above average prescription benefits), but then it strikes again.
It does not aim to wound. It aims to incapacitate. For a strong, independent woman, it’s not only terrifying, it’s humiliating. You gasp for breath, praying that you don’t pass out and make a spectacle of yourself in front of people. You worry about appearing calm, but you know you look like a paranoid person, with crazy eyes darting around in all directions. You try to calm yourself and fail, then you freak out because you nixed your doctor’s offer to add an “almost immediate anxiety reliever” because you’re afraid you are a lightweight with those meds and are terrified of needing them. It would be admitting a weakness.
These symptoms, my friends, are the enemy. He attacks you without remorse and takes glee in your shame. He renders you useless and ineffective. The shame and guilt of anxiety as a Christian is overwhelming. It’s failure, plain and simple.
Anxiety exposes your weaknesses and exploits them, all the while reminding you that you aren’t “enough”. You aren’t good enough. Pretty enough. Lovable enough. Christian enough. Strong enough. This is my hell on earth.
It’s not easy for me to admit that I am on anti-anxiety medication because, at the root, I blame myself for not being able to handle it.
The moment I knew I needed meds, I was in the back seat of a friend’s car on the freeway heading to girls’ night at the movies. A semi was next to us. The semi stayed next to us. I proceeded to have an irrational break down because I. Was. Trapped. In a car. On an interstate. Because a semi was next to us. It sounds ridiculous, but it was my breaking point.
I can recite scriptures that tell me God is with me, for me, going ahead of me, loves me. I believe these words wholeheartedly because they are the voice of truth. They are indisputable. Yet, somehow, to my miswired brain, they are foreign thoughts in my anxious moments. I am unable to process them in the midst of the turmoil.
I’m studying the Armor of God. Ironically, my anxiety reached its peak as I was preparing to head to my study group on the Armor of God.
The enemy attacks us when we are working for the good of God’s Kingdom. The more we learn, the harder he attacks. He’s ruthless. He doesn’t fight fairly. He likes to land low blows.
But he cannot win. Spoiler alert: darkness has already lost.
Why, then, must we continue to engage in these battles over our minds? It occurred to me last night that it’s because the enemy will stop at nothing to collect as many small wins as he can gather along the way to his ultimate defeat. Each time he renders one of us silent, he delays us in achieving our God-given purpose. If he keeps attacking, he hopes we will abandon ship and give up.
We have to be vigilant and protect our minds from his attacks. The enemy is slippery and slimy and will wiggle his way into cracks in our armor when we are not paying attention. We have to pick ourselves up, pray on our armor, guard our hearts and minds each and every single day, all day long.
The victory is God’s. We know this already. That story has been told. But we should be a part of that final victory by stepping into our purpose and walking out our faith. We can never give up. There will be shortfalls. There will be hardships. However, there will also be victory greater than we could ever imagine.
Ephesians 6:11-20 (NKJV):
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.