The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Content warning: This story discusses sensitive topics including school shootings.
I don’t remember the first time I had an anxiety attack or how old I was, but I remember feeling helpless. I hated the fact that my mind had control over me and that I wasn’t able to regulate my emotions. I felt foolish for feeling anxious and stressed about things, but instead of reaching out for help, I tried to do it alone. Throughout my teen years, the anxiety progressed and began to evolve into something that was consuming my thoughts all the time. I was always worried for the safety of my friends and loved ones and I became the mom friend who said “Text me when you get home.” Once I started driving, I never left the house without saying I love you to both of my parents because I was terrified of getting into a car crash and I wanted the last thing I told them to be that I loved them.
I grew up in a religious family and I knew what people would say if I told them about my anxiety: “Just pray about it and it’ll go away.” I thought that having anxiety made me a bad Christian because I wasn’t trusting God with my worries and if I could just do better at praying, then all my problems would go away. I still hadn’t told anyone about my anxiety because in my mind, I was strong enough to go it alone; Although, looking back, I was just gaslighting myself into believing that I was fine.
When feelings and emotions are buried and suppressed, they find a way to break through somewhere else and that’s exactly what happened to me. Eventually, I became so overwhelmed and I knew I needed help. I remember my parents sitting with me as I explained the depth of what I was really going through and crying to them that I was exhausted and couldn’t do it alone anymore. The hardest part was initially reaching out for help, but I had now done that. My parents helped me find a therapist and were incredibly supportive through it all. I started to develop a ‘toolbox’ of coping skills and I eventually felt like I was able to manage my anxiety.
Fast forward to Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. The events of that night really made me think about all the hard things nobody wants to think about. I never thought it would be me until I was the one running for my life with my friends, staying in the shadows, hoping that we weren’t running straight towards the shooter. Once I was safe and I knew all my friends were also safe, the emotions began to pour over me. I had no idea how to even begin to process everything that had happened and I was so nervous being in public spaces. The thought of returning to campus was terrifying and my anxiety was at an all time high. I had a lot of questions about why this happened and where God was through it all.
These past few weeks, there have been amazing people in my life that have reminded me of several important things. Monday night was evil and horrible, but through all of it, God is still good. Even if I can’t see Him working at this moment, He is in control and has a plan for it all. The evil that we see in the world today isn’t how our stories end, because Jesus conquered evil. There are a couple Bible verses that have helped me focus my thoughts during this time: Peter 5:7 says “Cast your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.” This verse is comforting because it reminds me that I’m not foolish for feeling anxious, because God truly cares. The other passage that has been very helpful this past week is Philippians 4:6, which says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer, let your requests be made known unto God.” He isn’t telling me to not feel anxiety or worry, but to bring those feelings to Him because He can handle them far better than I can.
By no means is prayer a magic solution to anxiety, but knowing that there’s a God who cares for me is very comforting. He has shown me time and time again that He is reliable and I can put my faith and hopes in Him and even though these weeks have been awful and I’m still feeling very anxious about what the future holds, I am learning that the best way to combat the feelings of anxiety and worry is by taking them to God. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”