Like 40 million other adults in the U.S. I experience anxiety… and depression, which puts me in the company of 332 million other people in this world. Scientific studies have documented that anxiety and depression are caused by several variables including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. These realities are pretty overwhelming. However, these numbers do not account for the millions of teens who suffer from the same experience with anxiety and depression.
If you have never experienced anxiety or depression, I am very happy for you. For the rest of us, we know what a prison it can seem like. Some days it’s like anxiety is the prison and depression is the warden, then just for fun, they switch rolls. It can be quite debilitating. It takes a toll on our self-esteem and our confidence. It distorts our view and makes the world seem very intimidating, even scary.
Many people believe that people like myself just need to “get over it” or “snap out of it.” We often receive all kinds of well intended advice. Much of that advice is from people we love, like and respect. Other times it comes from blow hard know it alls that we wish would just shut up. At the end of the day the people we love and the people we wish would just shut up end up in the same camp of “people who just don’t understand.”
I agree that anxiety isn’t something you can just “snap out of.” It takes more than that. Coping with anxiety and depression takes acknowledging our disorder and intentionally addressing it. For some of us we require medication to navigate this difficult and elusive disorder. For others of us, we have found ways to cope and thrive with anxiety and depression without relying upon medications. For all of us it takes a support system of people we love and people that love us.
I have found freedom from the prison of anxiety through my faith in God’s revealed truth, Jesus, prayer and meditation. (These are not exclusive. I didn’t replace medication with some superstitious faith. In fact, the medications helped me through a time when I couldn’t think clearly enough. This post is not about rejecting medications as part of treatment.) However, I am convinced that the Scriptures and faith significantly assist me and others in living a much healthier life as someone who fights depression and anxiety.
Psalms 24 is a truth that I have meditated upon and used to recenter for over 15 years.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”
The entire Psalm helps me refocus on who exactly created me. He is the victor, “invincible in battle.” (v. 8)
Psalm 115 reminds me that God is all around me.
He is in battle For me as the invincible. My depression and anxiety is not pushing Him around. I give way for His glory by relying upon what He is doing that my thoughts alone aren’t connecting with. He is good and He is fighting for me!
Psalm 115:1–3 (NLT): “Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
2 Why let the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in the heavens,
and he does as he wishes.”
Psalm 121 reminds me that the LORD himself watches over me.
There are days anxiety is trying to steal my peace. There are sleepless nights of pain that want me to believe pain and sleeplessness is the warden that has locked me in solitary confinement. However, Psalm 121 reminds me that the truth is far different than I feel.
Psalm 121:5–8 (NLT): “The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.”
And last but not least, I have to act, not just observe.
I have to begin the action of releasing these things that are stifling me and holding back.
1 Peter 5:7 (NLT): “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
This is not a formula. These are not “go to readings” of triteness in my life. These are pillars that I remind myself of often.
I do this before I feel the “spiral of depression.”
When my thoughts are about isolating and avoiding people. I immediately go to some of the safe places in my life where safe people gather. For me, it’s the coffee shop, or my friend Brad’s garage. It’s the discipline of meeting with my “platoon” on Sunday evening.
As with a diabetic, or person with thyroid deficiency, skin disorders, or obesity; I must take responsibility in the battle and treatment for my own health. The resources will always require that I reach for them.