f a i t h .  o v e r .  f e a r

Do you worry? If you said no, I wouldn’t believe you. We all worry, we are human and it’s a natural reaction to a lot of things. I see worrying as healthy to some extent because you care. You are empathetic to others and yourself. Worry can be healthy or it can be debilitating. SO, let’s chat!

Mental Health is, well….mental. The term can mean so much to so many different people. Some suffer , some are survivors, some just helpless bystanders. Some fall under multiple categories. I actually think I have been all three at some point. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes in so many degrees of severity and scenarios. It can be so inconsistent that you do not know which way is up to help yourself, or someone else struggling. The one thing that is consistent, is God’s grace! I’m pouring into this post, so that you can help me end the stigma on mental health, rely on God’s grace & faith, and learn not just about postpartum anxiety but anxiety in general. We all go through things in life that cause it. There is usually one choice to fix it, faith! By sharing, I become less worried about what others think of me and my family, to be honest. I hope sharing this personal journey, people look at me and say “she is a warrior, she is a woman of God”.

Life with anxiety as a mom, can be a different ball game. Anxiety can tell us we are not doing it right, we cannot trust others to help us with our children, that we are just simply not good enough. Anxiety can beat our mental health down with a sledge hammer. This is the other part of postpartum that people don’t see–Postpartum Anxiety. I know I touched on this in previous posts but I don’t think my posts are done in this category. I have too much to say on it and since its something I will battle my entire life, that just means others are too, so let’s hash it out. Shall we?

Anxiety is something I cannot remember not having– something that was around way before I had kids. From a young age, I always felt this sense looming over me that I probably thought was so normal but it wasn’t. I feel like I was vulnerable, sensitive and awkward at times in social situations because anxiety would literally hold me captive. I felt hostage to this worry and fear of what others thought of me- that it crippled me. I can remember being red faced, sweating and blanking out if someone just wanted to have a simple conversation with me. I don’t even know that person anymore but it was a part of my journey, anxiety and me.

I think anxiety held me back from figuring out who I actually was early on. I wasn’t confident in myself, I worried about everything, pleasing my parents was main priority, I made silly decisions because it was always driven by what others thought. The pit in my stomach was always there. In my adult age, I have learned to manage it with a lot of work and confidence building. I am not always anxious, and I don’t appear that way to someone who doesn’t know me. But I am prone to high anxiety episodes, and although I have a good idea what my triggers are, I never quite know when those episodes will show it’s face. When anxiety strikes, it prevents me from being the present person I aim to be. I am not able to focus and be mentally present with my children or husband the way I want to be focused. I am somewhere else, a captive to my thoughts.

Postpartum depression is focused & discussed  a lot more in society than PPA, so when new moms start to experience the mania of worry and a loss of balance and calm, they are not sure what to do with it or what is happening. Some worry can be so adaptive. Anxiety is a natural response to so many things, especially when we are a new mom protecting our family. Hyper-alertness and vigilance is just a part of it right? I think there is a healthy and unhealthy balance of it. Anxiety is a problem when it overshoots reality. In my experience, I was worried my babies would suffocate, or that one would have SIDS and the other would be alone without their twin. I was thinking up all of these awful scenarios. I was NOT sleeping. The anxiety of them being separated for some reason, made me worry and kept me up, hyper vigilant. I have never really told anyone that.

I think it’s very common for moms to worry. In fact, I think it’s common for anyone to worry. Aside from postpartum anxiety– There are so many things we can worry about: finances, relationships, jobs, school, health, success, pregnancy, the future, and the list goes on and on but when it exceeds that reality, it can become a problem. We need to find a healthy balance here because life is difficult.

Since we can attribute worry to personal stresses, it is important that we find our triggers so that we can be intentional with our living.

Identifying my own triggers was not only postpartum but was the fact that I was experiencing personal issues within my family dealing with my brother battling Bipolar 2 Disorder . (more for another post when the time is right) The overwhelm of trying to fix things with your loved ones can throw you into an anxious spiral. Feeling like I was on the “helpless bystander” end of things, worry can accelerate because you want to control so much and make everything okay, make everything perfect. I bring this up, not for sympathy but because I know I am not the only one in this position in life. We all have things that trigger. We all have things going on in life. When everyone isn’t okay, I’m not okay. I had to let that go! You can also let this go. Whatever your circumstance is. When I cannot make things better and it is out of my control, this is my trigger.

In being 100% transparent, there are things that we can control and be intentional with but who is REALLY in control? NOT ME! This is when we take a hard left into the faith category. The Lord has us wrapped and reminded that with HIM there is no fear. There is peace, there is no worry. There is triumph in all situations. I know not everything is perfect but when I am helpless and there is turmoil, anxiety will consume and I don’t always remember to throw my worry into trust and faith.

Rick Warren once said these 3 truths that I have written in the cover of my bible.

  1. There are no comebacks without setbacks.
  2. Every setback is a setup for a comeback.
  3. My setback is not intended to punish me but to prepare me for my next responsibility.

I believe God uses anxiety for me as a delay, difficulty and sometimes a dead end to prepare me for the future things I need to encounter. It builds our character, it builds our relationships, and it builds our faith.

My anxiety is currently very much managed but it takes a lot of intentional thought and action in order to ensure I do not trigger it. It also takes a lot of intentional behavior for me to trust and have faith. You can let the fear consume you. You can let it cripple you. You can let it tell you false things. Or, you can throw all of your worry into faith. You have the option to trust the Lord’s plan & accept this as a minor setback in order for yourself to be great in the future. Do not get me wrong here– I am not saying if you choose faith over fear that your life is butterflies and rainbows but its a ton more easier to get through life with God’s grace and acknowledging our imperfect life is in the hands of a perfect God. You have the option to replace your fear with faith and place all of it in His hands.

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Ps 6 1:2

The faith within our hearts builds from the foundation of love from God. By choosing the Word of God, we choose faith over fear. I hope this message met you where you are and reminded you to choose faith over fear today. Would love to hear your stories and how you relate!

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