Hello, my name is Lucy, and I have anxiety.
Some weeks are worse than others. There have been days that I have had an anxiety attack while walking to class because I was afraid to be five minutes late. I’ve gotten used to the fact that going anywhere by myself is terrifying. There are days when I can’t eat anything because I’m so nervous about nothing. But guess what, it’s ok.
Anxiety is not a rare disease that only affects insecure and fearful people. Around 18 percent of the United States population is touched by anxiety in some way, yet only one-third of them ask for help. I am here to tell you that it is okay to ask for help.
I have always been the type of person that wants to be strong and independent. I don’t want to be seen as fragile or afraid. My anxiety can be considered very mild compared to other people that struggle with it, but it can weigh me down. And when I feel like I’m buried by everything that life is throwing at me, I don’t want to ask for help. If I am honest about what is worrying me, I’m afraid that everyone will think I am being irrational or weak.
Last semester, my first semester of college, was rough. My grades were lower than I expected. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I stopped going to the cafeteria because I couldn’t go alone without having a panic attack. The week before finals, I had a nervous breakdown. That’s when I realized that I needed to ask for help, so I set up some counseling sessions with our school’s counselor.
Fast forward to this semester, I still have anxiety. But I know how to handle it. I know how to calm myself down when a panic attack hits me. I can go to the cafeteria alone, even though I hate it. I have all A’s and B’s. I’m still not getting enough sleep, but that’s because my social life is crazy amazing, not because my anxiety keeps me awake. I still wish I was stronger and more independent, but I have learned that God didn’t make us to survive the craziness of life alone. We were created to do life together. Through the joy and the pain, in the good days and the nervous breakdown days. We were made to be here for each other.
I’ve written about vulnerability before, and I know I’ve probably said this a thousand times in my life, but really. Vulnerability produces vulnerability. I have never regretted the times that I have told people that I’m having a rough day, or the times that I have told someone that I’m struggling with anxiety. If you have friends like mine, all they want to do is help you. Tell them you’re struggling. You can’t make it without their help. You cannot survive this alone.
If you don’t have friends like mine that want to help you through life, tell God you’re struggling. If I can’t make it without my friends, I definitely can’t make it without God. I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed myself through a panic attack. On the days when I have to eat by myself, I’m talking to God the whole time. Because if I’m not talking to him, I’m talking to myself, and if I’m talking to myself in that moment it’s probably negative.
Phillipians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Don’t be afraid to tell someone you’re struggling. If you keep all of it inside, you will be crushed by it. Take it to God, and let Him fill you with peace. Remind yourself that no one is perfect. Everyone struggles with something, I promise. I am a nervous wreck most of the time, and that’s ok. God can work with that.
words and photo by Lucy Boyland