I had my first panic attack when I was 8 years old in the middle of a swim meet. I remember exacatly how it felt; as if I was still underwater eventhough I had turned my face to breathe. My hands were shaking, my body aching, my chest tight. I mistakenly labeled it an asthma attack because I didn’t have the words to express that my out of control feelings had manifested into a full on anxiety attack.
It wasn’t until recently, as a young adult, that I have been able to look back and recognize the extent of my anxiety over the years. Moments of intense fear and doubt and stress that I now have the vocabulary to call anxiety. I know that I am not unique in this nor am I naive enough to believe that my struggle with anxiety is as crippling as it is for some. But I am self aware enough to realize that my anxiety is more than just the poor stress management of a type A personality.
The past 6 months or so have been the hardest of my life. I am exhausted in every area; physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially. And in that exhaustion, my anxiety thrives. It’s this weight on my chest, a shake in my hands, a catch in my voice. It is blinding and frustrating and isolating. All I want to do is lie face down on the floor and let my anxiety envelop me, squeezing with it’s powerful grip, dictating my worth (or lack there of).
But, in this dark, dark season of my life, the most amazing thing has happened; people have been lying with me. Through text messages and Snapchats and FaceTimes. Through meals shared and art appreciated and concerts. Through hugs and prayers and words of encouragement. Through conversations about God and football and teaching. Through generous, genuine acts of love, I have not been on the floor alone. My anxiety often tells me just that…that I am alone in these hard times. But I have seen in such a beautiful way that I am not.
I am fine. I really, truly am. And I don’t share these honest thoughts to gain sympathy or as a cry for attention. I share because even in this difficult time, the silver lining is so great, the love I’ve been shown is so deep, that I can’t help but be grateful. Thank you thank you thank you for not letting me lie on the floor alone.