WHEN IT’S STORMING INSIDE 🧠 MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH
May is mental health awareness month and I have been chewing on this blog for weeks. In fact, I knew I wanted to not only touch on this topic but also share an excerpt from my upcoming book where I unpack what it looks like to suffer mentally. But first…
What?! If you haven’t been following my journey for very long (there are a ton of new faces + friends around here now, so exciting!), then you might not know that I have been working on a book for quite some time. About three years ago, I outlined this work in a way that I can, without a doubt in my mind, say it was entirely God. It’s titled, The Gift of Suffering, and it’s about suffering physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And you guessed it, it’s about looking at those moments of suffering as a gift.
Without delving too much into what it’s all about (I have to leave some mystery to it all), I did just complete 90% of the section on suffering mentally and I would love to share some of it with you now, especially as we wrap up a month where we are shedding more light on mental health.
How does that sound?
(Excerpt taken from The Gift of Suffering, section three: The Gift of Suffering Mentally by Erica Canant)
WHEN IT’S STORMING INSIDE: MY BATTLE WITH ANXIETY
I have been a worrier for most of my life. I remember worrying as a child. I remember worrying all throughout middle school, high school, college. Anxiety is a pretty normal emotion. I think most of us have experienced it at one or many points in our lives.
But it can go past that, as if there is switch that can be flipped on in an instant—all of of a sudden you feel this sense of impending doom, your fears control your every move, and your mood and health begin to spiral out of control.
For me, it was after the birth of our second child, Eliana. Ironically named Postpartum Depression (PPD), I was feeling the other half of it: anxiety. Some women feel depressed, some feel anxious, some feel both. But I found myself constantly worried, fearing that my children were in great danger or could die, not sleeping well because I felt so antsy, and having major panic attacks. It was awful. What was this?!
A crippling anxiety, that’s what it was, and it began my ongoing battle with this storm inside.
After some time, I began to realize what triggered my anxiety. It was moments where I didn’t have control, whether that was my baby crying because she needed something and I just could not figure out what that was or when somebody else was driving and I could have sworn it was going to be my final moments on earth.
Anxiety was also triggered when I was faced with any type of tough decision I had to make or when I felt overwhelmed. I could take a look at each person in my life and think they were all staring me down, waiting for me to give an answer or help them with whatever they needed. I felt absolutely overwhelmed, smothered, and stressed to the max—the perfect recipe for panic attacks.
The final trigger was fear. If I felt the smallest onset of fear, it would snowball and turn into the greatest episode of anxiety you had ever seen. Fear is a massive trigger, but then I realized that wasn’t all it was.
Not having control, stress, feeling overwhelmed, and fear were all triggers for an anxiety attack…but there was one of them at the root of it all, where each trigger stemmed from—FEAR. It was why anxiety existed within me to begin with. You see, understanding what triggers anxiousness and the root cause was a moment of earth-shattering revelation for me. Since then, I have been working on each one and tackling the core of my anxiety (something I will dive deeper into later). Because although I was a worrier, I was also a warrior... I do not give up.
And that’s the first step in not only learning how to overcome and battle anxiety, but also in discovering how much of a gift it is when you understand more about yourself. I now know my deepest fears and that makes me a better opponent in the mental health ring.
Do you suffer from anxiety? If so, do you know what triggers it for you? And to take it a bit deeper, do you know what is at the root of this ongoing battle?
I challenge you to write these things down and to learn more about yourself, about your mental health.
I hope this small excerpt gets you as excited as I am about not only this book I have been pouring my heart, blood, sweat, and MANY tears into but also gets you ready to discover more and more about yourself and who God made you to be—A GIFT TO THIS WORLD.
And as we close out the month of May, I hope we can keep having these discussions on the daily because we battle mental health issues daily. Let’s help one another to overcome and become better warriors.
And please know, I am rooting for each and every person who suffers mentally. You are on my heart and in my daily prayers. Your story matters, your mind matters.