Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
There is an old Jamaican saying, “everyday bucket a go a well, one day di battam mus’ drop out.”
—For everything, there is a breaking point.
I have been seeing articles about people silently suffering from depression and anxiety. The world lost renowned chef Anthony Bourdain, fashion design mogul Kate Spade, and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park to suicide as a result of anxiety and/or depression. If I were to name more names, we would be here for a while. They appeared strong and successful but secretly harbored thoughts of unworthiness and failure. They opened the door for further exploration of my own experience. I had a breaking point and I bounced back. But, I believe there should be more stories of triumph, more stories about conquering the darkness. I believe we can overcome life’s complexities and unreasonable, unrealistic expectations of happiness and find peace. Here is how my faith and affirmations helped me.
I was diagnosed with anxiety in 2015 after seeing a Psychiatrist for some paperwork. I thought the random things I was experiencing were completely normal and basically ignored them until then. She recommended therapy and I attended a few sessions but had to stop because my insurance didn’t cover it. I also couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket anymore.
Some of my old feelings were easily identified but something changed. There were little signs but the first time I noticed a difference was right after my birthday in 2016. It was a rainy Monday so I skipped the gym and went straight home from work. Everything was routine but I was restless. I started pacing the floor. I suddenly felt like there was something missing. I tried sleeping but that was a complete wash. I scrolled through Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest; I tried writing, I watched Netflix, but nothing. I was tired but I just couldn’t sleep. I opened the Bible app on my phone and started reading, Exodus 14 (Moses leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt). I got to verse 14 and I stopped. I read the words over and over again and that’s how I fell asleep. But that was just the first night.
I wrote about it a few days after. The ability to identify what was happening was a blessing in disguise, but I was blind to the fact that there was something deeper going on. In fact, it had been happening for some time, and this was obvious in my writing. I scrolled through my old Instagram posts and it slowly dawned on me. I used my words as a crutch. I had hoped, if I spread enough positivity around, it would eventually come back to me. I clung to my faith, quoting scriptures, found the right songs, and searched for spiritual leaders who served as constant reminders of God’s love for me.
Then it happened.
It was a regular Wednesday afternoon. I had just finished lunch and I had been feeling like I was coming down with the cold or flu. I shrugged the feeling off. Later, an intense pressure surged through my head. It felt like I was having a stroke, or, something was trying to squeeze my brain out. Confusion fell over me and I walked to my supervisor. I have no idea what I said to her but she immediately rushed me to the restroom. She had me use a wet towel on my neck, rushing water all over my face and breathing. The episode subsided until she walked me back to my desk. I quickly realized that it was coming back and returned to the restroom. Two of my other co-workers realized what was happening and stayed with me in an empty office until I was feeling well enough to leave. The ride home was terrifying. The New York City subway is definitely not the place for anyone who had just had an anxiety attack. The train was stuck between stations and all I remembered was drinking water and silently pleading “move”. That night, the head pressure worsened when all I wanted to do was sleep. I found online that chocolate and exercise were useful. I added some yoga and finished off with the most profound prayer. But the tears sealed the deal. I sat there clutching my stomach and rubbing my knees until I ran out of tears. The floodgates were open and I was in an unfamiliar place and the most vulnerable I had ever been.
It took me by surprise and I had no words. My bucket no longer had a bottom. In that moment of falling, I failed to find the right scripture, no song came and I felt powerless. All that positivity disappeared and I existed, for the sake of existing. Years of unresolved disappointment and rejection took a toll. Years of going to the same places, getting the same crappy treatment from people, trying to fix things I had no business fixing. There I was, still a positive girl that deep down felt like a failure. I was truly in for a rude awakening. The crying increased over time, the lack of sleep worsened, until it became excessive. I lacked energy. Some weekends, I slept, all of the time, with breaks only to use the bathroom and occasionally eat. I tried to keep writing to soothe my soul, breathing techniques, and even whispered prayers. I only socialized when invited, until it was deemed I wasn’t worth inviting.
show up for yourself
I was bound to experience life-shattering change. I found my change through a complete loss of control. I was an empty bucket, a useless, empty bucket. I literally woke up one day and realized that that place was not for me. It went against everything I stood for, believed in, and wanted to be. Even after coming to the realization, it would take almost two years to get to a point for absolute peace of mind to manifest.
At a cost, and one I was willing to pay.
Believe in the intentionality of our God
I honestly can’t say when it happened but I found myself reaching out to God and praying more than I have ever prayed in my entire life. I had to learn to forgive, especially myself, for my thoughts and actions, at least those I had control over. I made a decision to move forward, one step at a time with an intention to be present, mindful, and positive. I decided to put myself first, stop being so available to people and fight harder for myself. The selfless persona is taxing. I was proudly the giving type, but I had to ensure I was leaving some things only for me. Positive affirmations really cemented the whole process. Acceptance is important. Being able to look in the mirror and be okay with who you are and what you look like is important. A positive affirmations challenge taught me the importance of identifying things I liked about myself. It also helped to highlight my flaws, recognizing that they too played an integral role in my self-esteem and growth. I could see them as hindrances or I could use them to get better.
My anxiety was as a result of persistent worry about my future. The uncertainty had been crippling. The depression showed up to remind me how sad my life apparently looked and to beat me up about doing better. I have been practicing fully letting go of all the maybes, could-haves, should-haves and I-need-this-to-happens and it really cleared up some space in my head. I sleep better knowing that I handed my worry to God. Thanks to the power of faith, my actions are more calculated and more aligned with my gift. I am learning to let go of dead-end relationships, find new ways to cope with disappointment, and understanding the weight of the words I tell myself. Leaders such as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastors Sarah Jakes Roberts, and Toure Roberts have been holding me down. Their messages have been providing the spiritual guidance I need to build my faith, expand my relationship with God, and to appreciate the power of no’s.
Rest assured your faith will be tried but by developing an attitude of gratitude, having a strong foundation of love of God and self, and experiencing each day as it unfolds, you will get by. Maybe, Faith isn’t your thing, but find whatever keeps you grounded. Find a reason to unconditionally love the person you are and becoming. Live unapologetically in that truth and smile. I do hope, whatever place you are in right now, courage will find you and your will to survive increases and overpower darkness for life to prevail. Be here now. Be here for you.
Trust the Process