Hey! My name is Brianna Arsenault and I struggle with anxiety… probably just like you. We all have worries or triggers that make it hard for us to sleep or focus while we are at work, home, or school. I tend to stress myself out like no other, whether I’m overbooking myself or getting way too worked up about the simple things. I have a difficult time going to social events or even initiating friendly conversations at work thanks to my own anxiousness. I’ve dealt with this for years and have had my moments but overall, I’ve coped really well. It wasn’t until this year that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I just wanted to be open and honest with you all about my recent battle and hopefully encourage you all that it’s okay to not be okay every day and the grit you gain in the fight is more than worth it. So… where should we start off?
Just a few weeks ago I was having a pretty great day. I was super productive at work and in a great mood. I was heading to grab a table for my friend’s birthday dinner and… traffic hit. Not too unusual when you’re driving downtown in a big city, right? Well, this traffic made me half an hour late and I left everyone waiting for me. Once I finally got to the restaurant, there was hardly any parking. I drove around for 20 minutes sobbing and my heart racing so fast I felt like I was going to explode (I’m a wee bit dramatic if you can’t tell). I pulled over to the side of the road and a legit anxiety attack began. I was so scared yet so mortified. This was my first one in almost 5 years and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed… how had I let myself get to this point?
This seems kind of random, I know. An anxiety attack over not finding a parking spot or more like an anxiety attack after a 6-month build up? After that happened, I decided to take a step back and understand what was really making me feel this way. I know that I am not a weak or fragile person because Isaiah 41:10 says, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” But the thing about that is, God can uphold you and strengthen you when you are truly close to Him. It kind of donned on me that I hadn’t really read my Bible in a month and outside of church and occasional prayer, I wasn’t being very intentional about my relationship with Jesus.
I chose to try. To try and be in His presence more, to listen to podcasts that had intentionality, to pray more. I also decided to start taking vitamins that would improve my mood, to try more breathing exercises, and pause whenever I felt broken down, stressed, or like I couldn’t catch my breath. Even as I’m writing this, I can feel my heart rate increasing and my breathing is getting more and more difficult. I literally have to step away, take a walk outside, or find a quiet place to regain my steadiness. But it’s not always that easy.
So how do you overcome anxiety? Day by day. Draw out the big picture rather than focusing on all of the details. Getting married? Think about your significant other and the life you are beginning rather than the wedding details. Having a baby? Think about the miracle rather than the “what if’s.” Starting a new job? Think about the opportunities rather than the obstacles. Every day you have to choose to take a breather, and you won’t always win. I thought I had conquered this fight when I was a teenager and was so mad when it came rearing its ugly head back.
But that’s the thing about life and the thing about being human… we aren’t supposed to be perfect and struggle is inevitable. I know that can seem so depressing but as Christians, we know what’s on the other side. We know we get to cross the victory line. We know that Jesus won and He won for us. You may not feel great every day and that’s perfectly fine. You will, however, win and remain the champion even if you have to take a punch or two along the way. Fighting anxiety isn’t easy… actually, fighting any mental or physical challenge is so far from easy. But God equipped us with exactly what we need as long as we earnestly seek Him. All of us, especially myself, are so far from perfect. And guess what? That’s okay and that’s normal. So take a deep breath. Today may not be your today, but tomorrow will be.