How I broke loose from the grip of anxiety
I had a wonderful childhood until I was 9 years old, and I found out my family was moving.
I was told my parents would be getting a divorce and dad would not be moving with us. I remember wanting to flee from the car and run from the news I just heard.
I thought things were good. I never suspected otherwise. My parents almost never fought in front of me.
That was the first time I remember feeling helpless and devastated. I didn't know how to cope with this news, so my thoughts turned inward. I hated the new house because, to me, it represented my world falling apart.
I always wanted to run; get away; avoid everything.
Enjoying a fun day with my husband, Nathan, daughters Mallory and Madelyn, and stepson, Marcus. Happiness was a daily struggle when anxiety and depression controlled my life.
I began having horrible nightmares and felt scared all the time. I started seeing a counselor and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression a few years later.
I would have panic attacks that would put me in the hospital. Any change — a new school, new people, new places — would cause me stress. I started having terrible stomach problems whenever I had to face a new situation.
Doctors would tell my parents I was faking it. I was called a hypochondriac, attention-seeking, and more. But these episodes were very real to me. Why didn't anyone believe me?
I was put on different medications with terrible side effects that sometimes made me feel worse than just dealing with the pain.
I always wanted to run; get away; avoid everything. I always felt alone or like I didn't fit in. I faked being happy. After so many times of being asked what was wrong, I was tired of explaining my feelings. After all, they wouldn't understand or believe me anyway.
I limited what I gave to God.
Posing for a Campus Safety group picture, with Clayton King, right. Volunteering was my first step toward giving my anxiety to God.
Afraid to be Alone
In high school, I was invited to a church where I remember hearing the Gospel, and eventually, I asked Jesus to be in my life.
Jesus lived in me now, but I still struggled daily with the physical and mental aspects of my anxiety and depression.
I hated silence because I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts. I was always in a relationship because I was too scared to be alone.
I limited what I gave to God, and in doing so, I limited what God could do in my life. I limited what God could use me for, and I still battled with feeling not good enough or like I mattered.
I was able to be myself and discover who I really was in Christ.
My best friend, Crys, reminds me that I don’t have to go through any situation alone.
The Hope of Belonging
That only began to change when my husband and family started attending NewSpring Clemson in 2016 more than 15 years later.
We had visited the larger Anderson campus for a little while, but the number of people caused me some anxiety. The Clemson campus was a smaller crowd, so I felt like I could let my guard down a little.
I started hearing the concept of not doing life alone, and I felt a pull to start volunteering. I attended an event to get connected and eventually joined Campus Safety.
I started to feel like I fit in for the first time in my life. There were others out there who struggled, too, and we could talk about it.
For the first time, I was able to be myself and discover who I really was in Christ. I could see I have a purpose, and my story does matter!
“The darkness,” as I call it, still tries to creep in. But I know that Jesus will guide me through it.
Hanging out at the lake with some of my fellow volunteers. My “no ordinary family” helps me battle the darkness when it tries to creep in.
Light in Darkness
This past year my family experienced a terrible loss, but God placed people in my life at just the right time that helped my family and me through all of it.
There was a light in the darkness. Jesus was fighting for me. I didn't have to go through that situation alone.
I'm not saying I don't struggle at times, but I know from Scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” I know my identity doesn't come from my situations but from who I am in Jesus.
God has placed me in situations outside of my comfort zone many times over this past year. “The darkness,” as I call it, still tries to creep in. But I know that Jesus will guide me through it, and He is right there with me the whole time.
He has given me the tools and the relationships to get me through it all. I not only have my own family but also this “no ordinary family” in my church to remind me that I am not alone.
Now I see challenges as an opportunity to overcome my circumstances. I see the blessings now more than I see the pain because I know that God's plans are much bigger than my own. The battle is already won!
I see my trials as a testimony that will help someone know there is hope in Jesus.