It’s crazy how time passes. Three years ago I published a post on my blog title, “My Nervous Breakdown, or At Least Almost.” You can read that original post HERE. Since then I have not had another episode as mad as that one. I’d love to say that I haven’t struggled with anxiety at all, but that would not be true. However, I have learned a lot about anxiety, God, and myself since then. So, what have I learned?
Anxiety is real. For people who do not, or have not struggled with anxiety it is very hard to understand what it’s like. From the outside looking in you might find yourself looking for the THING that is causing the anxiety or fear. The truth is there often times isn’t any thing. We know that. We understand that there is nothing to be afraid of. We understand that we shouldn’t be feeling the anxiety that we are feeling. Trust me, it is as frustrating to us as it is to you.
Anxiety may never go away. After that first night three years ago, I woke up different. I had fear when I had seldom felt fear before that. There were things that scared me that had never scared me before. For a time I was convinced that I would never be the man that I was before that night. Since then I have gotten a lot better. I don’t have the same level of anxiety that I had in the weeks right after that night. But, it’s still there. I still have moments that I have to remove myself from, due to irrational fear.
God is faithful. In the midst of my most difficult moments, God was there. In the times after that, when I needed strength and peace, God was there. For me my anxiety was worse when I went to bed. Many nights I would lay in bed, feeling the anxiety coming on and I would pray, “Lord, give me peace, give me strength.” He was there for me.
God is able. All too often we look at ourselves, at our own opinions about our abilities and use that to judge God. We think that because we are incapable of certain things, that God must be too. As I lay in the bed, praying that simple prayer, over and over again, I was unable to handle my anxiety by myself. BUT, God was able.
Night after night I laid there, feeling fear creeping up on me. Feeling the tightening in my chest, and in my throat. Feeling as if I couldn’t catch my breath. Contemplating whether to wake Kim or to just push through it myself. Then, night after night God gave me the strength I needed to push through. Night after night God gave me the peace that allowed me to sleep.
God is good. In the midst of the storms of life it can be easy to feel that God is not good. At the least, we can forget that He IS good. As I look back now, I realize that even in those dark moments, God was still good.
I am ok. As I’ve often told people, there was a time after my first major run-in with anxiety that I worried that I would never be “normal” again. I feared that the person I was before was gone forever. Since then what I’ve learned is that I am ok. Have I been changed by the experience? Sure. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Either way, what I do know is that whoever I have become, I am ok.
I’m going to be ok. As I look back on that night and on the many days and nights since then, one thing I am certain of is that I am going to be ok. Having made it through a night of uncontrollable fear, and a number of fear filled nights since, I’ve become convinced that even in my most difficult moments I’m going to be ok.
I am stronger than I think. Before all this started I thought I was strong. I was convinced that I could do and endure anything. Looking back on the past three years I’ve learned that I’m even stronger than I thought I was. The truth is you never really know how strong you are until you are tested. Who is stronger, the person who has never had to do something difficult or the one who has faced hard times and come through them? I thought I was strong before, and I was. Now I know that am even stronger than I thought I was.
You are too. My journey has been MY journey. It is intensely personal. The specifics of it are specific to me. However, my experience is not unique. Through my experience I learned that I am much stronger than I thought. It also taught me that YOU are stronger than you think you are. You may not feel it right now, but trust me, you are stronger than you think you are and you will come through the difficult times.Matt Norman
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