In my opinion, there are many different types of anxiety and I categorize these different types of under two labels: Healthy anxiety and unhealthy anxiety.
An example of healthy anxiety:
For the last month, I had been preparing a speech for my universities Korean Speech contest. I spent about three days writing the speech and getting it edited, 2 hours a week (over the last 2 weeks) practicing and doing minor edits on it, and finally a hour reading over it and getting it to sounds the best I could.
I was pretty nervous. I invited people because I wanted to be sure that I was supported. My parents came (which was nice) and I got 4th place out of four people (and I won $100).
This anxiety makes sense to me. The situation and context of the anxiety makes sense; a Korean speech contest is an experience that many people would find intimidating and explaining the anxiety is agreed upon as understandable and legitimate.
An example of unhealthy anxiety:
As I was walking to class yesterday, my mind was racing and I was processing a recent rejection. In my head, I knew that the best thing to do in this scenario was to talk to someone about what I was feeling. My thoughts led me to a place of feeling like I would be judged for the thoughts based on past experiences of opening up, feeling that the rejection was illegitimate and not worth the time of grieving it, and feeling guilty for even being sensitive to rejection.
This all led to me having a brief panic attack. I seriously considered just walking back to my car, driving home, and going back to my bed. But I ventured on, believing that going to class is important and knowing that this too shall pass.
In the NIV translation of God’s word, the word anxiety appears 7 times (5 times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament with none of those times being in the Gospels). The word anxious appears 5 times (3 times in the OT and twice in the NT with one of those times appearing in Luke’s Gospel) .
As I was reading the context of all these references, a few connections occurred:
- Feelings of anxiety should be shared with people and God.
- Even Godly people have anxiety,
- Luke 2:48 is Mary’s reaction to teenage Jesus sticking around in the temple. A lot of people consider Mary the best of the best because she carried Jesus for nine months, so it humbles me that even she got a little antsy.
- Philippians 2:28 is Paul expressing that he sent Timothy to the Philippians to ease his worries.
From my very brief research session on this topic, I see one verse about not being anxious (Philippians 4:6). But the response to anxiety isn’t, “You should feel bad.” but rather, Paul says encourages by reminding us to pray and present the situation to God.
So, what does all this mean? For me, this means a few things:
- Anxiety exists. People get anxiety. And the way to nip it in the bud is to take it to God.
- Satan loves to mess with me when I’m anxious and knows exactly how to belittle me. He makes me feel like no one cares, like my problems aren’t worthy, and these two things give me even more anxiety!
But notice how I’m writing this blog pots a day after this all occurred. Yesterday morning, I wasn’t in this place of perception and understanding. I was anxious. I was scared. I felt like I was underwater and I could not physically push myself above.
This was all happening in about two minutes.
You may be wondering “What can I do to help?”, “How should I approach this with you?”, and other questions alike. And, to be frank, I have no idea. Unless I have chosen you as someone I trust, I won’t open up. Past experiences with have led me to develop an anxiety disorder which is essentially “Being anxious about being anxious”, which to the average person doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But that’s exactly what it is.
A comforting thing about yesterdays little episode was I fully understood that God cared (plus one for me). What I wrestled with the most (and is the root of the issue) is not believing people around me care which stats the whole cycle mentioned a few paragraphs before.
When I was in high school, I told everyone my problems. Heck, I stood up every Friday night at youth group going on and on and on about my issues. In retrospect, they were pretty minor issues and yeah, my delivery system of the issues was pretty immature. And eventually people started telling me that in unloving ways (laughing at me, telling me to shut up, patronizing me).
For a while (like, up until this year), I didn’t tell anyone. I dealt with it. I avoided being made fun of by not talking to people. I did the exact opposite of what I did before because I did not get positive feedback.
So, what am I doing now? Well, I’m creating healthy boundaries while also keeping in perspective that I do have a select and small group of people I can talk to, who I trust to not judge me and my anxieties. But, it’s a work in progress. Yesterday is proof of that.
In conclusion, don’t feel guilty for not being there for me. It’s not you, it’s me (unless it is you who was unloving towards me, then feel a little bad). If you want to be a person who is thinking “Man, I want to be a person Angela opens up to”, pray about it and God will deliver it to me.