Dealing with Anxiety
My form of anxiety is separation, which was brought on by a traumatic event in my early childhood. I fought this secret for many years until recently when I came out about my mental health problems. In the first part of the series, we will be looking at Philippians 4:4-9.
The passage from Philippians 4 speaks to the handling of anxiety and strife, specifically when there are disagreements. And as a reminder, everyone, at some point in their life, will deal with anxiety. Acute anxiety is the body’s normal response to the stress around us. So my prayer is that my writing will be of some help to those who are hurting now and to those who may someday suffer.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
The verb, rejoice, means to feel or show great joy or delight. Ironically, and contrary to Paul’s current situation, the theme of his letter to Philippi was about joy. Examples of which can be seen throughout the epistle in verses 1:4, 1:18, 1:25, 2:2, 2:16, 2:17, 2:18, 2:28, 3:1, 3:3, and 4:1
While studying for this blog series, I read through several biblical commentaries written by some great theological minds; however, the snippet below from Charles Spurgeon, really resonated with me.
“There is a marvellous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful; but this, which is the best of all medicines, is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart." Joy, A Duty - Sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon on March 20, 1887
In addition to prayer and meditation on God’s word, and my digital art, I supplement my treatment of depression with medicinal therapy. And as with all medicines, there are side effects to sertraline. Sometimes those effects are not pleasant, or as Mr. Spurgeon pointed out, distasteful.
Moving back to our passage, notice how Paul repeats himself with “I will say it again: Rejoice!”? The context for Paul’s expounding is to address a disagreement between two women in Philippi. He really wanted the people at Philippi to catch this because strife can quickly separate a family of believers.
This part of the passage also speaks very loudly to me. In addition to my severe Separation Anxiety, I do not handle strife very well. Whenever there are disagreements, I tend to take a back-seat approach and try to fade into the shadow of the conversation. I struggle with picking a side. I struggle with which side of the argument to land. And this goes back to my life goal of always wanting to make people happy.
Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Smiling Depression use to be my modus operandi until one day, just a few years back, I came out to my Connection Group (others may refer to as Bible Study Group). For years, I had kept my emotions bottled up like a freshly shaken coke — waiting to explode. And on that night, in front of my friends at the bible study, my emotions exploded in the form of tears; as a plea for help. I was broken and had known for years that I needed help. I just did not know how to ask for help or even if anyone would believe me.
So, have you been keeping a secret about your mental health? I had kept mine almost too long so I beg of you, do not keep it bottled up.
And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
How very true are these words written here by Paul. Now, when I am feeling down or depressed, I look first to Christ knowing that His peace surpasses every horrible thought. Does His peace guard your heart and mind today?
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul wraps up this passage with a reminder to always dwell on the things which are honorable, just, pure, lovely, or commendable. Of course, there will be times when finding the good in life will be challenging. When that happens, I beg you to reach out to your friends, family, loved ones, or even a random stranger — someone! Anyone! Do not suffer in silence as the silence will eat at you from the inside until there is nothing left but a shell.
I really appreciate all of you. Your prayers are felt and your comments are read. My goal for starting this blog was to help me in my fight against depression. So if you have enjoyed any of my blogs to date, I ask that you share my blog with your friends and family. Getting the word out about Mental Health Awareness will help to further remove the stigma.
And just a little reminder — my Etsy store is ArtByOBXJack. A vast majority of the proceeds are donated to suicide prevention charities.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.