I have a secret to share with you.

I’m feeling anxious. 

Not so much of a secret right? I’m probably just about to take part in public speaking, enter into an unfamiliar social situation, or am standing on the top of a tall building with a fear of heights
perhaps?

Wrong.

Despite knowing that I am completely safe, surrounded by people who care about me and enjoy my company, I can’t ignore that familiar unsettling feeling creeping its way into my mind. It is planting seeds of doubt and worry that will soon spread their way throughout the rest of my body in the form of adrenaline… readying me for fight or flight. Only problem is, there’s nothing tangible to face up to or run away from.

Everyone hates potentially fearful situations and we all try our best to avoid them. My ‘anxiety’ is something else entirely, moving far beyond any rational sense of fear.

Anxiety is a crippling sensation of worry that you can’t ignore.

That is how I explain the difference between people’s perception of the disorder as being a ‘fun quirk’. It can be both rational or irrational, but for someone who suffers from anxiety on a consistent basis, it is predominantly the latter.

I first noticed I had anxiety at University. I would feel physically sick due to the pressure I put on myself to achieve a First Class degree. Slowly but surely it manifested itself into feelings of responsibility for things that were out of my control and caused me to have horrendously low self-esteem.

At times, it felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and so much to cope with in one go, that I would simply collapse underneath it all.

Most people, when they are struggling in life, resort to some form of coping mechanism. Whether that is alcohol abuse, drugs, or becoming dependent on friends and family. It becomes a way of taking control of your life and of your decisions when everything else around you seems to be spiralling out of control. Luckily for me, throughout this difficult time in the muddy darkness of anxious thoughts and feelings, I found God.

He first came to me in scripture when I was told to

 ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. Be alert and sober in mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. (1 Peter 5: 7-8)

This was such a revelation for me as it helped me to realise that I didn’t have to be the one burdening these worries and anxious thoughts alone. In fact, The Lord was there in readiness to help me to dispose of them. This particular verse, along with others, are the ‘coping mechanisms’ I have learnt to engage with.

Recognising my anxiety as something that is not from God has enabled me to better understand what God has gifted me with, and how to use these traits as my shield and armour when the all too familiar crushing hand of the devil attempts to take hold.

I still suffer from intrusive thoughts – horrible, irrational thoughts that come from nowhere. The way my brain is built means that I struggle to ‘change gear’ from these and to move on.

I am learning not to react but to trust myself, because I am a Child and Warrior of God.

The most important thing that I have learnt, and the reason I wouldn’t have had things any other way, is that you may lose yourself for a time; but finding yourself again through the Father is beautiful.

- Alice Loney