When I was 14 years old, I laid on my bed crying myself to sleep. My body felt tense; something wasn’t right. I could barely breathe anymore. My chest was so tight I felt I was suffocating. I cried so much my eyes hurt to open them, they wanted to stay closed because they were tired. I prayed to God that He would take this from me. I wanted to stop feeling these things, I wanted to stop feeling like I was weird and not like everyone else. I wanted to be normal. I didn’t want to have anxiety. As I prayed these things, I felt arms wrap around me. No one was there, but I could feel arms wrap around me as God whispered to me, “It is okay, my child.” The weight was lifted – the pain didn’t go away, the breathing didn’t get easier – but the crying stopped and I felt safe. The chaos was still raging in my head and the symptoms were ever-present, but I felt safe. For the first time in a long time I felt safe. The thing that made me feel safe was God.
At 16 years old, I accepted a position as a coordinator at my favorite camp in the world. I loved it so much. Until the stress was unbearable. Most anyone could handle the job, but not me. I felt crushed. I spent every night in my cabin crying as I hyperventilated. I hid this for days. Until one day a friend told me I needed help. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You need help, you can’t do this alone.” I asked a fellow coordinator if I could borrow some of her staffers for end of the night jobs and I kept going. But the anxiety still didn’t stop.
My boyfriend at the time, who is now my fiancé, was the only one who knew what was truly going on. He finally talked me into talking to my parents. I told my mom everything and she was so good about it. Her and my dad wanted to help. I got a counselor, that I started seeing once a week. But that didn’t go well at all. She was not right for me and actually made me feel worse than I did before seeing her. Then I found another counselor – she was much better. I was seeing results. But not great. By this time it is fall and college is in full swing. Tests are starting, classes are challenging, and I wanted to stay in bed 24/7. Around November I had to start taking medication. That helped too, but again, not a ton.
Now this camp, both the counselors, my parents, my fiancé, everyone around me, were Christians. I was surrounded by God, but God was not in me. My heart was hardened to Him because He didn’t heal me. I was in need of Him and a relationship with Him, but I didn’t want it. I was mad and hurt. Finally, over a few months time, my heart was softened. But with the softening and opened eyes to my need of Him, I was feeling even more anxious. This was because I was disappointed in myself and it came out in the form of more anxiety. That is when I found essential oils. The scents and healing properties of essential oils were able to calm me down, balance out the crazy hormones, and get me to focus on what was at hand. I was able to use these to calm down enough to focus on God and His love and goodness. When I finally was able to pray, read my Bible more, and grow closer in a personal relationship with Him, I saw improvement.
I am not healed from anxiety. It is still a very present struggle in my life. But I gave control of my life to God and leaned on Him. I leaned into my relationship with Him. I prayed at 14 years old to be healed, I asked Him to take this from me and to help me and He answered in the way I needed. I thought I needed Him to take it away, but what I really needed was Him.
Here are some of my favorite verses that have helped me so much over the years with my anxiety:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
– Psalms 34:18 (NIV)
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right path for His names sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, the comfort me.” – Psalms 23:1-4 (NIV)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
“He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” – Matthew 8:26 (NIV)