Grace Michaelson

Social Anxiety and Backyards

Dec
23

I’ve been dealing with Social Anxiety for a very long time. Being at the PRC this last month has thrown me into a social environment and thrown me out of my comfort zone to the extreme. I’ve been using every single coping skill, whether good or sometimes bad, to get myself through this month, just so that Caleb could get the full benefit of the program.

One of the things I do for myself is paint pictures for myself so that I can distinguish for myself what is mine and what belongs to others. So during this time, I have been thinking a lot about backyards. I look at myself like I’m in a backyard. My feelings, my thoughts, my judgments, my decisions, and my actions are weeds or flowers in my backyard. When I use a good coping skill I pick the weeds in my backyard, if I use a bad coping skill then I let the weeds grow.

Some people, like those of us who are socially anxious, don’t know how to stay in their own backyards. We worry about what others think of us, or what their judgments are, what their feelings are, etc. So we go over to their backyard and start pruning their flowers and picking their weeds and don’t tend to our flowers and our weeds start getting overgrown.

This picture has helped me a lot over this month. Every time I was thrown into a situation where I became really anxious about if someone was thinking negatively about me, I would say to myself, “That is their own weed.” Then I could go on with the situation using some deep breathing or some other good coping skill. After all, what can I do if they actually are thinking negatively about me? Nothing. In the past, changing my behavior around negative people has only always made them more negative because then they know they have more power. In the end, it’s just best to be yourself, weed your own backyard. I like who I am. If you don’t like who I am, then you’re totally screwing yourself and missing out on are really nice person. And that’s the truth.

Anxiety and God’s Peace

Nov
16

As I have shared in many of my posts, I have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is not something that I fool around with. I hate the feeling completely. It’s an out-of-control feeling in the pit of my throat and upper chest that tells me that I am deeply, deeply afraid of where I find myself and what my circumstances are. My heart beats above 100 beats a minute resting and I have to take extra breaths or my head will start to spin and I will feel like I’m going to faint. My hands tremble and I can see “those looks” coming from people around me because I look anything but normal when I’m fighting panic. Have any of you tried to pretend you are perfectly OK while fighting back waves upon waves of panic for no reason at all? This is just part of what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a very read disorder. It’s not something you should deny or “just live with” or try to spiritualize and blow off. So what I’m going to share, though it may seem like I’m “blowing off anxiety”, I want to forward with a warning. If you haven’t sought help and gotten the physical part of your anxiety disorder dealt with, this post is not for you. This post is for people who have dealt with the physical aspect of their anxiety-are on medication that is replacing the hormones their body can not make on its own, or are taking medication to suppress the hormones they are making too much of.

After you have that medication on board, it’s time to deal with the bad habits your left with as a result of your brain having been broken (having too little or too much of the hormones that caused your panic/anxiety disorder.) All of us are left with residual effects, no matter what your mental illness might be. That is why it’s so important to add counseling, spiritual growth, and exercise to your regimen of healing.

So, lately my life has been very stressful. I have been very ill and one of my children has been very ill. We are both headed to Mayo tomorrow, in fact, to get checked out and hopefully diagnosed. This has caused some of my bad habits in the anxiety disorder to rear their ugly head. So I took some steps:

I immediately informed my psychiatrist that I was having trouble with my anxiety again. He was able to adjust some of my PRN meds to be able to get me through the next couple of weeks that will be stressful.
2. I decided to take steps in my spiritual walk. I found verses to encourage me that talked about walking in obedience to the Lord in regards to anxiety. I want to share with you some of the verses so that you can be encouraged, too. Philippians 4:4-8, Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Peter 5:6-7, John 16:33, Philippians 4:11-13.

The biggest thing I have learned about anxiety is that it can be beat by obedience to Christ and prayer. Pretty much all those verses above are either talking about casting your anxiety on Christ, or are about someone praying and casting their anxiety on Christ. That is where we must obey. We must cast our anxiety on Christ in obedience and ask him to replace that anxiety with His Peace as we pray and thank him for His answers in regards to what we were afraid about.

We can be set free from being victims to our fears. We can be victorious.