This resource is designed to help you navigate mental health and spirituality. Mental health looks different for everyone and this article should not be used in place of a clinical diagnosis. If your symptoms are getting in the way of daily functioning in the areas of work, sleep, health, relationships, or emotional well-being, it is best to talk to your doctor or a professional counselor.
Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whether I was watching those I loved struggle with mental health, or struggling with it personally, I can say that anxiety and I are familiar friends.
My anxiety started when I was in high school, but I didn’t necessarily have the words to describe what I was experiencing, and it seemed mild and manageable. It escalated a few years later when I was a newlywed, living in a new city in the middle of a pandemic.
I was really struggling with my mental health. My heart and mind were always racing and I lived in the constant fear that if anyone knew the thoughts in my head, I would be rejected and cast aside. The only person who knew the depths of my struggles was my husband, and even then I tried to keep my thoughts and anxiety to myself.
In this new city, I slowly started making friends, but could feel myself keeping everybody at arm’s length. I was bound by the lie that I was a “bad Christian” because of the anxious thoughts that occupied my mind.
There were many nights that the only way I could pause my thoughts was by sitting against the bathtub. The solidity of the floor beneath me and the coolness of the tub on my back felt comforting and calming. Sometimes my husband would sit in the bathroom with me.
I thought I had a good system: I’d hold it together when I was around others, and then I’d let loose and weep on my bathroom floor when I was alone.
That was another lie. That system wasn’t “good,” and it definitely wasn’t sustainable. This “system” came crumbling down when a panic attack hit one evening after we had made plans with some friends. They were going to come over and we were going to make dinner and play games together.
When they arrived, I was at the peak of my feelings with my back against the tub. My husband came and sat on the floor with me, and asked me how long he needed to stall them.
These were friends who I really liked, and I had even started trusting them. I knew that the wife had struggled with mental health before, and admired how open she was with her story.
So I wiped my eyes, splashed cold water on my face, and went out to see my friends. With a shaky voice and sweaty palms, I let them know that I was really struggling with my mental health. I was expecting rejection and shame.
Instead, I was met with compassion and empathy. And almost immediately, I felt the weight of this burden lifting. It wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t nearly as heavy as it had been. I was reminded of this verse from Scripture:
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NIV
Talking about my struggles didn’t make them go away, but it brought hope that I wouldn’t be held hostage by my anxiety forever. After that night, I took more steps to finding help and relief—including talking to my doctor and finding a counselor.
I still have hard days. And there are still moments when I struggle. But I’m not doing it alone anymore. So if you’re struggling with mental health, try talking to someone about it.