The Neighborhood Liturgies


How I'm "Surviving" Anxiety

On the day of my wedding I was filled with so much anxiety. Anxiety about what the night will be like, moving into a new environment, moving out of my mom's house. New everything. Before I got married I was always told don't have sex, dont have sex till you're married, and then there's a ceremony and everyone's asking when you're going to have kids. It gave me anxiety because just over night it becomes okay to have sex (we'll talk about this another day). I struggled with anxiety about my health (even though I was healthy and knew I was healthy). I feared I would die of something I didn't know I had. It was miserable and straining our new marriage.

I went to the doctor and told them how fearful I was and how it was affecting my everyday life and they put me on a medicine. I know a lot of you probably are thinking I shouldn't be on medicine for it but to each their own. You don't know what someone is experiencing until you walk a mile in their shoes. There's a lot of church people who say that you're weak or don't trust God if you seek treatment for mental health. It's this old idea that the brain isn't an organ like a heart or a kidney. If it's sick it needs to be treated! The medicine helped me a lot too. A LOT.

After I was properly diagnosed with clinical anxiety and on medication things started looking up. We moved out of our apartment (which was also a cause of anxiety) into our first house. Everything started feeling normal again! We got a dog, I was finishing college, and then we met our next door neighbor. It changed a lot of things. When we first met her she said " when are you going to cut your grass?"(we had only lived there a week) "My name is _____ I'm an alcoholic".

 We have always tried our very best at loving our neighbor and it was incredibly hard with her. During that first year I was able to get off my medicine and my anxiety made progress. Winter came and I received my early childhood development degree and then spring came. It came time to mow the lawn for the first time when it happened.

She started yelling and swearing at us and being incredibly aggressive and unprovoked. It got so bad that we had to call authorities in order to finish the lawn. My anxiety exploded like a firecracker! Any window that didn't have a curtain I duct taped a garbage bag to. I sat upstairs until Charlie got home. I would call him every day to make sure I would be ok. It was awful. It is awful. Then she went to jail over an unrelated offense. We have decided it is time to build a privacy fence and take time for self care while she is away from home. 

When this happened it was traumatic for me because with my anxiety I have a tendency to replay things in my head over and over and over again! Although it happened a few months ago I'm still replaying it in my mind. It caused me to stay in bed for days and not have much of an appetite. When anxiety gets to the point where you don't want to leave your bed it is time to get help. I went back to the doctor and I am back on my medicine for a boost to get through it. One thing that has really helped me overcome anxiety about this situation is telling myself

"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace".

This is so true because even in our everyday life people will ruffle our feathers but we can't let them tear our nest down. I say nest as in my home because the anxiety that my neighbor has caused me has affected our home, because  when I'm anxious I'm not myself, I'm not present, and I don't have peace.  Another thing that is helping me to overcome my anxiety is to not let "the devil" win. "The devil" wants to see us crumble, wants to see us not be able to get out of bed, and wants us to be scared to live our lives. There is good news: Jesus wants us to have peace, gives us strength to face the day, and wants us to live our lives abundantly in his name. Jesus always leads us out of fear and into truth. I'm learning that whenever  something or someone causes anxiety that they are powerless without my reaction. I am in control because of Jesus. I am learning to react with peace, kindness, and to lay all my worries at Jesus's feet and NOT let "the devil" win. Jesus loves all of us even when we have worries. Anxious me, my alcoholic neighbor and you all have a place in the love and peace of Christ.

How am I surviving anxiety? A lot of love and grace and a little medication and that's ok with me.

May we all put our anxieties on the Lord because he cares for us. Amen.

Allie P.