Being a Warrior
By Christine Elizabeth
* I would like to preface this blog post by saying the author is a huge advocate of therapy and medication and has been in intensive therapy. She is simply writing from her own experience during this period of her recovery. Please note that therapy is always advised when dealing with anxiety. *
And just like that the year is over… I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions, because I think you don’t need to wait to start to do something. Like Nike says, “Just do it.” But I am an all or nothing kind of girl and I know it just doesn’t work that way for everyone.
Anyways, being the all or nothing kind of girl I am, I wanted to share about my journey of this last month or so. I was struggling a lot with anxiety on and off the whole time I’ve been in Warsaw, until recently. A few weeks ago, I was fed up with how my anxiety was starting to make me feel physically, and decided to commit to doing whatever I had to do with full force to handle it. I decided to stop letting it have power over me, especially over my train of thought.
I have done this before, willed to change my mindset. When I first started running in 2011 I would have such a mental war with myself. My mind wanted me to quit even though physically I wasn’t struggling. When I would start to struggle physically I learned that I could also use my mind to encourage my body and soul to keep going.
I have taken this all a step further in the last couple of years to try to will my mind and body and heart to do something by leaning on God through some kind of prayer. So I am saying all of this, because I saw how strong I can actually be if I gave myself the chance. It wasn’t always easy and I still struggle at times, but I can reflect on overcoming some of my past obstacles successfully and use that as fuel to carry on.
I am no therapist, and I know we can’t always wish for our mental symptoms to just go away. There’s not a magical solution, but I do believe there is a lot of room for grace and blessings when we finally decide we want to overcome something. If we can’t do it on our own, which ultimately we can’t, then we should have someone to lean on. I firmly believe that someone is God, and the Sacraments, therapist, as well as a good friend who will be honest with us.
We need a friend who will call us out on our negativity or when we wallow in our misfortunes. We need someone who can remind us to be grateful, and not jealous, and we need someone who will still love us after an argument. God never said this journey to heaven would be easy, but He did make it clear that it was worth it.
I wrote about this at the end of November when my friend brought my negativity to my attention. It’s been such a blessing to be aware of this cycle I put myself through so I can acknowledge when and where there are truths or untruths to my feelings. I started feeling something immensely the other day, and it’s caused my anxiety to really impact me. I also know that I was still trying to get over a cold, and it was also the holidays. Hello trigger points!
My dear friend asked me why I was feeling what I felt, and at first I found it difficult to say. I felt stupid for feeling what I felt, even though I knew there was some validity to it. Eventually, after a few tears, I shared it, and she told me that she understood. This was important, because if I hadn’t shared it I would have kept it inside and kept thinking it was silly for me to feel what I felt.
The truth is, there was so much validity to what I felt, and it’s okay that this is something troubling my heart. It’s still bothering me, but now that I’ve shared it with my friend, and also in prayer, I don’t feel trapped. I feel my anxiety was trying to bring a need to my attention, and if I didn’t address it I wouldn’t be able to better myself and deal with it. We can’t stuff our anxiety away.
So I have said a couple things that seem like contradictions. I essentially said I willed for my anxiety to not have control over me, and that we can’t ignore it. Both are important, and this works for me. Let me explain. I have to acknowledge that I have some level of control in a situation, because if I accept that I have no say over how I handle what affects me then how does one ever deal with something negative in life?
We can’t just roll up in a ball and hide in a corner. I’ve spent way too long watching my life happen to me, instead of actually being proactive in my life. I now try my best to see that I am capable of living this life that God blessed me with and that I deserve to live, and I can see that when I do have anxiety or depressive episodes I have to pay attention to them. They don’t diminish my ability to be a part of my own life though.
I usually learn the most about myself when I am facing a difficulty, and see where I need more healing. So we can’t ignore it all, but we have to see where we still have a say in what happens. We can’t waste our life always reacting to things. We need to respond and give ourselves a chance. We can’t let mental illness symptoms diminish our value as a person or our capacity to be the person we want to be.
We can do so much more than we think. Limiting ourselves, because of anxiety or whatever it is for you, is not the answer. It can actually empower you to see that you are stronger than you think. Not every war zone involves the military, and you are a warrior for battling what you battle every single day. We can all be our own heroes.And when we reach out to God or a good friend or therapist, we are still heroes, because even heroes need heroes.
P.S. You are enough.