#BeatAnxiety

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.

Two years

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 brokenhearted
and 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.

Ride Baby

MTB GibbyRecently, 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.

Reality

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

Recommended Articles:

  1. Jesus or Zoloft? – Jamie the Very Worst Missionary
  2. In which depression is NOT your fault – Sarah Bessey

  3. 5 Things Christians Should Know About Depression and Anxiety – Relevant Magazine
  4. the depressed Christian: why the dark night is no measure of your soul – Megan Tietz

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7 responses to “#BeatAnxiety

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I will be praying for you as I struggle. You are a gift. I love you.

  2. There was a man that we had developed strong relationships with, that was cutting a 50-gallon drum in half with a skill saw. Unknown to him, there was gasoline residue in the drum and just enough fumes to cause an explosion. It severely burned most of his arm and caused minor burns on other parts of his body. He was rushed to a hospital near where we lived at the time and my wife and I, along with some guests went to visit him there. In the back room of a mediocre hospital with little more than a few beds and mildewy smell, I walked in and saw a nurse peeling the burned skin off of his arm with a tweezers. Combined with the gruesomeness of the burnt skin, the grimace on his face, and the daunting surroundings, I felt an indescribable sharp pain wash over my body. I wasn’t queasy or feeling faint, but definitely a heightened physical and mental empathy. I believed I was feeling, in that moment, what he was feeling. The process is called ‘debridement.’ it is the removal of unhealthy tissue from a wound to promote healing. Even now, as I’m writing this, I can still sense, although not as profoundly, that feeling.

    As I read your account of the challenges you’re facing, the actual pain, anxiety, depression, and other ‘hard to nail down’ emotions, the same feeling washed over me as when my friend was having the burnt skin peeled of his arm without anything to dull the pain. As I read yours and others accounts of dealing with depression and anxiety, as I unwillingly process the recent death of Robin Williams, and as I see so many reactionary extremes in an attempt to explain it all, I can’t escape that rudimentary pain that washes over my body and agitates it from within. It’s almost as if your transparency, and that of many others, is forcing me to peel off dead skin that I’ve been protecting for so long. It’s like a debridement of my heart. But, this is not about me. This is about you and others who are going through the same thing as you. I am grateful for your transparency. It will benefit you, but know that it will also benefit others as it has me. So while these waves of pain continue, as I can literally feel that which is dead being peeled away, as my own protective mechanisms are failing, it is happening with others too of their benefit. I pray that this sense of empathy will drive me to pray for you and others.

    • Your words mean a lot to me, Miguel. This post is not only about me, but also about you and others who need to peel back the onion and discover the beauty that the Spirit has placed deep within us to ooze out.

      I can’t escape the rudimentary pain either. I’m not sure we should. Healing will come and is coming.

  3. Thank you for your servantship, Gibby. You make it easy for others to come alongside and acknowledge their pain and struggle. “When we can’t enter into the sufferings of our sisters, brothers and neighbors, the Christ we embody in our neighborhoods is a shallow distortion of the Jesus we encounter in Scripture.” Christopher Smith, Slow Church

  4. Not to present this as a fix but have you heard of “depression: Looking up from the stubborn darkness”? It is refreshing to find someone who doesn’t think that if you love Jesus you can’t deal with depression. Thanks for posting this.

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