This has been a long time coming. In light of the news we’ve all read about Robin Williams there is no better time to discuss anxiety and depression. If you’re following me on Twitter, or my friend on Facebook, you’ve noticed I’ve added #BeatAnxiety to my bike ride posts. Many have asked me why I’m adding the hashtag and what it means. So, let me explain.
Throughout my entire life I’ve dealt with minor bouts of depression. While in the Air Force it was difficult to admit that I was depressed or dealing with anxiety. Basically, I had to man up. If not, there was a serious problem with stigma. It was a career killer. As an introvert I did a good job of hiding my emotional and psychological issues. The problem is now I’m having to face the “dark night of the soul” a bit more often then I’d like.
Over the past two years I’ve had an increase of anxiety and depression. As I look back, one of the triggers in my psyche was when my dad passed away in September 2012. I’m not sure I really grieved. As the oldest in the family I felt the responsibility to be strong and controlled before my dad’s entire family. It was as though I needed to let everyone else deal with my dad’s death, while I guided the tribe through the journey of pain.
Yet, at the same time it was as though all of my emotions collided and the years of holding back my thoughts and feelings were now exploding. As of late, the anxiety and depression have impacted my ability to perform well at work, communicate with others and process thoughts clearly. Typing this post is taking a lot of work in gathering my thoughts and expressing them.
Not Without Help
Now, before I continue let me say that I’ve spent many a day and night praying for complete healing and restoration. That hasn’t happened yet, but I am seeing an amazing doctor. He’s helping me find the best medicine for my body chemistry and psyche. He’s genuinely concerned for the dark days in my head, so he prays for me after each visit.
The Lord is near to the brokenheartedand saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
I believe that all of life is a spiritual journey and everything we deal with has a spiritual effect on us. I also believe that because I am a human being there are physiological and psychological issues that I’m having to contend with daily. Because God has not completely healed me does not mean He is not aware of my struggles. It just means He chooses not to heal me as others and myself have wanted and prayed…at this time. This is a journey that I must push through with the help of the Spirit, my family, friends and doctor.
Six and Two
The last six months have been very difficult for me in many ways. The foggy mind, confusion, crying, racing heart, anxious feeling, prickly feeling on my skin, cold sweats, tremors and chills have caused me to consider my life and what matters most. No, not to the point of suicide, but rather to truly consider who and what matter to me. This struggle has pushed me to see life differently…when I can see and think clearly.
The last two months have been a kick in the gut like I’ve never felt before. There was a three week period where I felt like my soul was disconnected from God’s presence. My times in scripture, reading devotionals and prayer felt empty and discouraging. They were dark days. There are still days like that on occasion. I’ve had many people pray for me and others have suggested that I pray with certain folks to deal with my past. I’m honored, grateful and humbled that my family and friends care for me so much.
Recently, my brothers from The Table (a gathering of friends to whom I am accountable) prayed for me while in a restaurant and it was an amazing time. It refreshed me for a couple days. Still the struggle continues. My soul feels battered and bruised most days. Not because God isn’t protecting me, but because life is hell at times. So, I’ve taken my doctor’s advice to ride my bike often, very often. When I ride my bike to increase the endorphins and helps my heart get healthy, it is my way to punch back at anxiety and depression.
In dealing with all this crap I researched what “Christian” teachers had to say on the subject of depression and, well, after reading their quotes it compounded my depression with guilt. Basically, in their thinking a Christ-follower dealing with depression or anxiety is not really a Christ-follower because we are supposed to always be happy, jubilent and bubbly for what Jesus did on the Cross. I find it to be very narrowsighted and arrogant. It’s an argument that often creates a chasm between the sacred and secular. Yet, the kingdom of God is at hand in the midst of our realities…sacred and secular.
Only ignorance blames mental illness on a lack of faith. Inexcusable, deadly ignorance. – Rachel Held Evans
Listen, I know my Christ is stronger and more powerful than anxiety and depression. I believe He can heal me wholely and completely. I also know the reality of life can and does press on us daily. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we can separate ourselves from the rigors of life. There is joy in those moments as well. Just know this, I don’t see anxiety or depression as a curse or sin. Sometimes, it’s about chemistry.
Defined By Love
I’m Gibby Espinoza. I struggle with anxiety and depression. There are others of you out there that struggle as well. Different events, sounds, smells or situations have triggered all this in us. Don’t deal with anxiety and depression alone. Trust me, there is plenty of love to go around. There are many friends out there who want to love you without judgment, without giving you all the answers and without trying to fix you now. They just want you to lean on them and allow them to lean into you with grace and mercy. Let us not be defined by our struggles, but let us use those struggles to cause us to be defined by love. #LoveYourNeighbor #ReceiveLove #BeatAnxiety
grace and peace…gibby
- Jesus or Zoloft? – Jamie the Very Worst Missionary
In which depression is NOT your fault – Sarah Bessey
- 5 Things Christians Should Know About Depression and Anxiety – Relevant Magazine