Fear, Anxiety, and Faith
The Road of Fear, Anxiety, and Faith
In the last few weeks, I have spent several hours a day listening to podcasts on fear, anxiety, and faith. Also on learning to trust the process. I love podcasts! I’ve even been listening to podcasts on how to start podcasts! (yep very soon I’ll be bringing you my lovely voice as we talk about all these fun, yet hard truths about life and self-love)
Two recurring themes popped up. A message from God for sure, about fear and anxiety. The first is that my overwhelming, sometimes crippling, anxiety is rooted in fear of things I can’t control. The second is, I’ve spent my time numbing that anxiety/fear with whatever works best. In my case that usually means food.
Let me just say this, for all of us out there that deal with anxiety, it’s a bitch. There is no sugar coating the stress it creates in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, most humans live with a constant level of stress daily. While it isn’t exactly healthy, it’s mostly manageable. Until it isn’t.
Anxiety is like a ninja, most often slowly creeping up on you until suddenly BAM! Your first panic attack slaps you in the chest and steals your breath. You don’t know where it came from, you might not even know what it is. For me, the first time I felt a panic attack I was fairly certain I was having a heart attack.
Ignoring what makes you anxious only makes it worse
Most times when we find ourselves stressed out on the brink of panic we do our best to self medicate. For everyone this is different. Self-medicating is the first step to quite a few addiction problems. Some examples of self-medicating are pretty obvious; Drugs, drinking, and eating are the most common ones. Others you may not realize could be shopping, sex, or whatever you find yourself doing to fill the emptiness inside.
The problem that arises from self-medicating is that you are only creating a state of numbness or denial of what is truly bothering you. By ignoring the root cause of your fear or anxiety you end up creating bigger problems that you still *eventually* have to face.
For me, this showed up in my life mostly in the form of food. (for a while I had tried to find comfort in a series of not so healthy relationships as a way to self-medicate and feel loved but that’s a different story for a different day!)The problem that followed was losing control of my weight, my eating habits, and how I felt about myself. Instead of learning to cope with my fears in a healthy way, I turned to eating food in secret to give myself much-needed comfort. A reprieve from that anxiety.
Developing into what I like to call an emotionally triggered eater. I used to believe I had an eating addiction. Feeling like I couldn’t control myself around food, especially when I was emotional, lonely, or anxious. The reality was that I was using food to avoid dealing with harder issues that come along when you ignore fear, anxiety, and faith.
Learning to be uncomfortable
This is a really big step if you are in the process of transformation. Whether it be a new career, learning to love yourself from the inside out, or even taking control back over your life in areas that you have felt helpless in for so long.
There is a process that growth and change go through. I wish I could tell you that this process was easy and fun! The good news is that sometimes it is! Yet, just like everything else in this life, you need to anticipate the balance. Meaning it’s not always a cakewalk. The truth is, quite a few moments in transformation are scary. Some are even downright ugly.
You have to be willing to feel uncomfortable as you shed the past and step into the future. Most of us are so willing to do ANYTHING to never feel uncomfortable. To never face fear or pain. Our bodies and brains are wired that way. That whole survival instinct and what not.
Yet to grow in your life, you have to be willing to step into the process. Facing what scares you doesn’t break you. More often than not it STRENGTHENS you! Think about how many times you’ve felt worried and anxious in a situation that is beyond your control. Has obsessing over it ever helped? Not that I’ve ever been witness too. When you accept that some things are beyond your control, you end up empowering the only thing you DO have control over. Yourself.
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. The next time you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable, I want you to sit in that feeling. Embrace that emotion. Don’t try to numb it or push it away. Acknowledge that it exists. By facing it you’ve now permitted yourself to be ok in the moment. The more this happens, the less you will find yourself reaching for your go-to forms of self-medication.
When you’ve tried all the actual medication and it still doesn’t work, what next?
Let’s be real, even when you aren’t trying to self medicate, big pharma is just around the corner with some new anxiety or depression pill for you to try. In the past year, my anxiety grew to the point where it was affecting my performance at work, causing me to have really bad stress migraines (like 2 -3 a week), and making it extremely hard to be anywhere in public due to the crowds. I turned to the help of my Dr. We discussed various options, but I wasn’t interested in getting a prescription for valium or Xanax. She talked me into trying an anti-anxiety drug. My curiosity piqued, I went home armed with perhaps a new tool to combat severe anxiety.
Sadly those pills didn’t work. We could have upped the dose but the longer I was on medication the further away from the help I felt. So I went back to struggling on my own. Recently I tried another medication, a beta-blocker, to help my body stop physically reacting to panic.
This was ok for a bit, and I can take them as needed, but it’s’ still just a bandaid on a very deep wound. The anxiety and the triggers for that anxiety were getting worse. So what could I do? How am I supposed to take back the power from this thing inside me that was slowly taking control over my life? I can tell you, I have been feeling at my wits end about this. Hopeless with no real answer out there. I’m not sure where this anxiety came from, but I knew it was taking over my life. I needed help
Taking a leap; A story of Fear, Anxiety, and Faith
Last year, while my mom was visiting me here in Denver, we went into Walmart. Immediately the panic that set in was almost unbearable. I could feel my skin crawling with anxious energy. After snapping at my mom, which wasn’t a great feeling, we finally left the store. I remember her saying “when did that start happening, you never used to be like that”. I told her it had been growing for the past few years and it’s getting worse. She said “well knock it off.” At first I was angry, I mean yeah sure show me the off button mom and I’ll push it! Never underestimate a mom though, they can give you the right words when you need them the most.
After a while, we started talking about it again, and that’s when she asked me if I ever gave it to God. That stunned me, for all the therapy I had been doing, all the different drugs I’ve tried I never once thought to turn to my spirituality and faith. In truth I didn’t feel like I was good enough to turn my problems over to God, having turned my back on my faith many years ago.
I didn’t immediately go to God and ask for help. Honestly, I didn’t think about that conversation, even though it struck me on a deep level, for another year. However, I spent an entire year reconnecting with my faith, learning to see God’s path for me start to unfold. All the while, my anxiety continued to grow.
With no hope in sight of taking my life back from this growing fear of the world around me, I felt so lost. I remember sitting here in my room looking at my walls thinking “is this it?” My eyes wandering around my room until they settled on the framed picture near my desk. It read God can restore what is broken and change it into something amazing. All you need is Faith.
The question my mom asked me a year ago popped back into my head. Could I really just give it up to God? Was it just that simple? I’ve tried so hard to beat this anxiety. Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. I’ve since come to learn I was just trying to ignore or numb it. There was no way it could be as easy as saying Ok God, I can’t do this anymore I need help.
Psalm 34:4 Says I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. This little line of scripture found its way across my path shortly after that. And again, when listening to a podcast by Joyce Meyer talking about giving up fear and anxiety to the Lord. Then again, and again, the same message kept popping up in my life. I finally gave in. It’s time to step into faith and give it up to God.
The Power of Letting Go
I understand that some of what I’m writing about could make people feel uncomfortable. The subject of religion, spirituality, or faith can seem almost taboo in today’s society. That being said, I have recently come to an understanding in my life that as I share my story, I need to share ALL of my story. That includes my walk and relationship with God and my faith. I’m not advocating that you have to have a religion to find peace and strength in your life. Sometimes learning to have faith in yourself is just as important! For me, reconnecting with my spiritual faith, and strengthening my relationship with God has had a profound effect on some of the harder struggles I’ve been facing.
In the time that I’ve actively tried to give my struggle up to the Lord, He has brought people and things into my life that have made handling my anxiety easier. I can feel the pressure of that ever-growing anxiety easing. More importantly, my spirit has felt renewed in the determination to overcome this anxiety for good.
That means facing what scares me. Figuring out why the fear has run unchecked throughout my head for so long. In that moment of letting go, I was given the power to overcome. Armor to face the scariest monsters in my head.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to fear, anxiety and faith how you choose to handle each one will be part of your journey. The only thing I know for certain is that if you ignore the fear, and try to numb the anxiety then it will only grow. Anxiety is something that grows from unchecked fear and as it grows it takes over your life. Unwilling to let go of the steel grip it has on your mind until you find the strength that you need to beat it back.
Face what you’re afraid of. Face the uncomfortable truths about yourself, your life, and what you don’t like. Accept that those things may be a reality RIGHT NOW, but they don’t have to be PERMANENT. More importantly, as you take back the power and control over your life you will find that those things that scared you aren’t all that scary. You will become stronger just for having overcome them.
When you stop using self-medication to cope, you allow your world to open up to a new set of possibilities. By embracing the uncomfortable, putting down the self-medication, and facing the fear that resides inside you, you open your heart and mind up to an endless world of possibilities.
Remember fear, anxiety, and faith (whether its faith in a higher power or faith in yourself) are powerful things. How they impact your life is completely up to you.
Until Next Week my beautiful friends. Stay safe out there and remember YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!
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