What It’s Like to Lose a Battle to Crippling Anxiety (And How to Win)

elder holland quote

Yesterday, I lost the battle.  At least on my own anyway.  Don’t worry though, this story has a happy ending.

If you’ve read a little bit on this blog before or if you’ve read my About page you’ll know that I have an anxiety disorder.  It’s something I battle constantly and the majority of days are better than the others.  It’s not something I usually like to talk about or even admit to because the majority of people don’t understand mental illness or what it’s like to suffer from it (unless you have it of course…).  I still think the majority of people think that “you’re making it up”.

I can assure you, I’m not.  Coming to terms with and understanding what I have was the first beautiful step to helping me live a normal, productive life (for the most part… I still have rough patches).

Without an understanding of what I face, how to fight it and certain tools to help me battle it, I would be in a much darker place.  In fact, it was God who helped me understand that I needed help (but that’s a completely different story for another time…)

Maybe this short description of yesterday can help show just a little bit of what it’s like.

When Brains Attack

For me, my anxiety usually gets funneled into a topic and my mind starts obsessing on it.  Most of the time it’s on whatever project I’m dedicating myself to at the moment.  My anxiety latches onto my inner desire for every project I do to be perfect.  It also has a habit of taking a really small molehill and turning it into a giant impassable mountain.  Even the littlest things.

These past few weeks since I graduated school I’ve been working on a new site for my poetry.  This site is incredibly important to me as it is the foundation for all of the work I’m going to be producing in the future and is key to helping me follow my dream of sharing positive, impactful poetry and media.  As well as supporting my family in the process.  Consequently the website has also turned into the bane of my existence.

Yesterday I just couldn’t get things to look right or even satisfactory to me (a small problem right?  You would think…) and my mind just went into overdrive.  This small thing that will probably take care of itself in a few days suddenly became a thicket, entrapping me in its snares.  It had to look perfect.  It had to be right.  Nothing else would be acceptable, especially not at that moment.

To most people this would be an annoyance, I imagine in most cases people would just take a break from their project and focus on something else for a while but my mind just wouldn’t let it go.  

I could not stop obsessing about it, no matter what I was doing.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I couldn’t stop checking it.  I couldn’t stop trying things.  I was losing control.

Revisions on my site.  Probably over 200 of those changes or revisions came from yesterday...

Revisions on my site. Probably over 200 of those changes or revisions came from yesterday…

Then the anxiety snowball happened.  This is where completely illogical thoughts start avalanching in your mind.  Situations that would never happen suddenly became very realistic within the channels of my thoughts.  These were doubts to the most extreme, being harvested and used by the Adversary himself (he always tries to rob of us of our faith.  Always.)

I imagined thousands of people scoffing at my site and it being thrown under the rug to wither into nothingness.  I imagined failing.  Big time.  I imagined never being able to figure this thing out.  I imagined trying to fix and fix and fix and never finding anything I’d ever be happy with.  I imagined posting it on Facebook to my friends and a lot of them offering up harsh criticisms and thinking it looked stupid.  I imagined nobody signing up for my email list because the subscribe button wasn’t put in the right place (seriously, this was wigging me out)  All of this caused me great anxiety and obsession.

It’s silly right?  Looking back on it, it’s illogical.  But when you’re in the moment, it’s like you can’t shut off your brain.  It’s like a broken water line, the water keeps flowing and spraying everywhere and you’re left scrambling to try to turn it off.

I tried playing with my kids.  I tried being around my family.  I tried to do all sorts of different stuff but I just couldn’t stop it.  And that was the problem and the solution.

Of course I couldn’t do it.  But He could.

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I don’t know why I didn’t jump to this conclusion first.  In all my obsessiveness I forgot about it.  I hadn’t relied on the Lord that day like I should’ve.  So I knelt towards the end of the day and had a sincere prayer.  Not praying because it’s something I should do, or I’m supposed to do, but praying because it was something I needed to do.

Then I turned to my scriptures and found this gem, a tender rebuke and reminder-

“…For ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men…” 2nd Nephi 31: 19-20

The beauty of the scriptures is that the Spirit will reveal a different meaning to you depending on your circumstances.  In that particular moment I knew I needed to rely on Him.  I have only made it this far because of Christ and because of His words and I would only be able to continue in the same pattern.  I had to rely on Him and not on my own “arm of flesh”.

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Then I was comforted.  My mind calmed down and I was able to focus.  I made some great progress on my site and received some inspiration on how I should make it look.  I was at peace.

I suppose the thing that amazes me the most about this experienceis that it’s just a silly website.  But because it’s important to me and I’m important to God, it’s important to Him.  All of our struggles are.  He cares about us.  We matter to Him.  

So yesterday I may have lost the battle.  But only He, helped me win the war.

-Alex

What about you?  In what ways have you realized that you are important to God? 

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7 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Lose a Battle to Crippling Anxiety (And How to Win)

  1. Pingback: thunderlane12

    1. Alex Barlow Post author

      You’re welcome. Thank you for your kind words. I’ve decided to try and be more honest about things and hope that it could help someone else who may struggle with the same things. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
    1. Alex Barlow Post author

      Thank you! My diploma came in the mail yesterday. I expected to open it up and it would suddenly grant me super money making powers…still hasn’t happened yet! 😉 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jan

    Of course you can win Alex. Remember to look around you. The adversary with all his forces is wimpy compared to the might of God.

    Reply

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