I was a happy newlywed when the first panic attack hit. We had just turned off the lights and were going to bed when I suddenly sat up. “It’s hard to breathe,” I told my husband. Within half an hour we were in the emergency room. A week later it happened again, but at least I knew that I wasn’t dying. Thus, began my journey with anxiety.
I was angry and confused. Why was this happening to me? Why was God allowing me to experience these horrible symptoms in such a happy (and busy) time of my life?
Now, 7 years removed from that first episode, I understand that these panic attacks, and the subsequent anxiety attacks, were not some random, fluke occurrence. Anxiety had been culminating deep inside for years. Childhood trauma, unhealthy mindsets, hurried lifestyle, ignoring my body’s needs and signals, genetics, the pressure of pursuing Secondary Education – not to mention getting married – all of this built up until my system couldn’t suppress it anymore.
To be honest? My journey has been incredibly lonely. I have felt misunderstood by most of my loved ones. I have found that most people, unless they have experienced anxiety themselves, do not know how to support someone who is struggling with mental health. This is not everyone’s experience, but it was, and sometimes still is, for me.
Yet I have experienced the grace and love and power of God through anxiety in ways I never had before. He has never left my side, even in my darkest moments, and I have emerged stronger and more confident of his love because of them. Mental healing is a journey; it is deep and layered and intricate. Yet the Lord is with me through it all. Piece by piece he is healing and restoring mindsets and childhood wounds. I give Jesus all the praise for the healing I have already experienced, and I have hope for the healing work he is yet to do.