How to View Anxiety when it Stares you Down

Anxiety mocks those who will not confront it.

Don’t let it mock you. Confront it. Listen this whole “stigma” around mental illness ought not still surround people. Today the biggest challenge facing my generation – millennials – is mental illness. In this short blog I will explain what I believe prevents people from getting help and I will give what I hope is insight into how you can view your own anxiety when it will refuse to stop staring at you and staring you down.

Generations Before Us

For my peers you should know this. Our parents’ generation and the generation before them were “doers.” They went out to vote, they went out to work, they went out to provide for their families. They “did.” Have a problem? They generally took care of it or tried to. Our generation could learn so much from them here. However they were not “doers” in the arena of mental health – rarely did they speak about it. This isn’t a crack to them because they also lacked the tools and resources we have today. They really didn’t know how to confront something that was still being uncovered – from diagnosis’ to therapy to medication. This is also not an excuse for them. Many swept it under the rug and many are still reaping what was sown by them doing that. It was all a developing field – and still is. But today more people are getting the help they need while throwing off the stigma which they do not need. Generations before us can and will learn from us in this area!!

Our Turn

Ask yourself this: “If you knew you had an illness would you get the help you need?”

It is no question if you had a temperature and were throwing up you’d see a doctor. It’s no question if you broke your arm you’d get treatment. Yet when this brokenness reaches the mind suddenly it’s off limits – to some. Don’t let it be. The beautiful thing I’ve learned is we are all broken. I’m coming from a Christian worldview so I see the issues in this light: When the first man and woman invited sin into their lives, sin created brokenness. It created “estrangement.” Separation. Between man and nature. Between man and man. Between man and God. And between man and himself. Yes, man and himself – the inner world of a man. That world is broken too. 

Sin got passed down and so did brokenness and it’s no wonder when all sorts of diseases, conditions, ailments get passed down genetically within a family the children then  become at risk for them too.

And so it goes for mental ailments. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about. I don’t know the stats but I’m pretty sure at least half or more of my generation has experienced this – if not in themselves then in their own family. And it may even be more than 50% of people today. Things like bipolar, manic-depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD run a high risk of being passed down to children within families. Knowing is not enough. The key is breaking the stigma and then doing something about it. More and more people talk about it openly. I know I do. There’s less stigma and judgment of people suffering than ever before. That’s a good thing.

A Way to View It

As I was driving home the other night I was listening to a sermon. The man said something about expectation and anticipation. I then thought of these two things and how they exactly relate to ANXIETY. “Expectation and anticipation” are great things. Think about it: you know the feeling when you’re about to go on a vacation or road trip? That feeling in the pit of your stomach. You practically knock the door off the hinges when it’s time to leave! The feeling itself is pure and not corrupted. It’s a good feeling. Sometimes the anticipation makes the trip more fun than the actual destination.

Since we live in a profoundly broken world you should know all good things have become distorted. Counterfeited. Broken. By both sin and by the enemy of our souls, satan.

Anxiety’s playground is where expectation and anticipation cause you to expect and anticipate bad things. Bad outcomes. To expect “the worst.”

“He must be thinking badly about me to say it like that.”

“There’s no way she likes me after she gave me that look.”

“My boss didn’t respond to my email until today…she usually only takes an hour at most! What’s wrong. Did I do something wrong? I was so nice to her all day…”

Those are yet a few minor examples. There’s much worse.

The feeling in the pit of your stomach when excited. Weren’t we just talking about that? Yeah, anxiety produces that feeling too, but it does not feel good. It is a different one. Much like we anticipate the best things in life we can also anticipate the worst. That’s where anxiety takes off and does its worst work! This is just a nutshell of the larger issues of anxiety but I hope seeing it in this light will benefit those who suffer from it in both small and large capacities.

Yet if you think about it like this you will be able to have greater insight into yourself and hopefully see why you feel the way you do. After all, anxiety has a lot to do with good, pure desires being misused and misplaced. Creating various bad scenarios in one’s mind is but a way anxiety accomplishes its purpose. See I believe we were created by design to expect and anticipate great things from a Good Father – God. But the enemy of our souls has used those very feelings for alternate, inferior purposes. Much like all good things, he takes them and distorts them to become harmful things.

If we can learn again to see those feelings as pure, we may be able to stop anxiety in its tracks before it even gets traction.

I have much more to say on this topic so stay tuned for the next blog!

Alex Oram

October 19, 2018 

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