Ignorance is bliss. Anxiety is not!
I recently saw an article pass through my news-feed with the title "The Strongest Women Are Women With Anxiety". I was motivated to add my thoughts.
To be clear, I don't agree with the title alluding to the fact that the strongest women are ones with anxiety. I will, however, support the article in terms of the intensity of its affect on women (men included) who suffer from anxiety. I am blessed to know some pretty strong women who have dealt with cancer, loss, divorce, addiction and so much more. But in my opinion, anxiety is in the top 5.
As most of you know, I’ve written a book about this subject with an honoring of God as a solid presence of strength in our lives. Where can you get this book you ask? Good question and HUGE prayer it eventually gets published. You see, the subject matter got hit with some resistance in the christian world. I will explain in a few.
But it’s only until recently that I’ve learned that people really don’t know, or are even able to define what anxiety actually is. Why? Because there really are many facets to the umbrella of anxiety and it's disorders whether it be a daily, seasonal or life struggle. Here are just some ways anxiety exists:
Anxiety as a daily stress-or; living an overwhelmed life with an underwhelmed soul
Anxiety as a debilitation of life; brain chemistry off balance
Anxiety as a frequent instigator of fears including constant panic attacks; the inability to function when anxiety is heightened
Anxiety that rears its ugly head working it’s way into seasonal portions of our life due to tragic circumstances, PTSD, personal/untouched trauma
This raises the question, are anxiety disorders covered under the term mental illness? Although there are many resources, associations, websites that advise on this subject, I will reference the American Psychiatric Association with the question, what Is Mental Illness?
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.
Mental illness is common. In a given year:
nearly one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness
one in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness*
one in 12 (8.5 percent) has a diagnosable substance use disorder
Mental illness is treatable. The vast majority of individuals with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.
*Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes.
There. That helps to understand things a bit.
So, the time this topic took a turn was when I was meeting with a Publisher a few months ago at the She Speaks Conference. I was so cautiously optimistic this could be the next step towards publishing my book and building my platform in ministry.
Her energy was great and immediately I could see there was a chemistry between us.
I pitched my idea.
Then the bomb came.
(paraphrasing from what I remember) "How do you feel the christian community will react to the topic of anxiety?". I was stunned. And didn't quite know how to react. I never really though of Anxiety like this. I knew it held a stigma, just not ignorance.
In my head I responded with something like this:
How does the Christian Community react to Cancer? Addiction? Heart Disease?......and so on.
I felt I needed to defend anxiety. But she really wasn't on the offense. She was asking due to her knowledge of this topic still having a ridiculous stigma in the christian community. One, so high, that even the suicidal death of Pastor Rick Warren's son couldn't bring it down. And I can assure you Rick and his wife Kay have tried to lower this stigma by talking, writing, preaching and ministering to the mental health community.
It made me think, regardless if my book is rejected, could it actually offend people? My simple little devotional book that gives tips, scripture, knowledge, personal testimony and prayer? Could that actually offend the christian community, including leaders & pastors? Would talking about it as an illness be overstepping? Is it best I keep quiet so we can continue to shrug it under the rug as an annoyance that some "just have to deal with?" Or stay holy to the mantra that you can simply pray anxiety away? I went into this conference staying close to the Holy Spirit. So I trusted he was speaking volumes to me that weekend.
We ended the meeting with the commitment to follow up in January. Additionally, she encouraged I continue to build a speaking platform with hopes it could help in creating a better understanding so we can collectively "break the stigma" on mental illness. Also, a prominent figure in the christian community, Brian Johnson, came out last year sharing his experience with anxiety and panic and has written a book that's due to come out this November. If it does well, and the community reacts positively, this publisher wants to re-connect in January to revisit my proposal. I'm praying his book does well! So please, buy his book.
I’m using this article and my publishing experience as a challenge and a re-visitation of my initial goals. Answering the question; have I effectively honored my God and my testimony in personal knowledge sharing good information in the form of truth, wisdom, common-sense to help others to better understand this "umbrella" called anxiety? I do believe I have! But God will let me know in his timing!
Why am I so passionate about anxiety? The short answer? I don't like pain! & I certainly don't like suffering. If others can benefit from what I can offer, which are simple, tried and true methods to healing from anxiety? Well then, let the healing begin, right? At the end of the day, isn't that what Jesus would want?
As I have noted in my book (and in my speaking), I am not a PHD nor MD. Just a vessel to you from GOD through my own personal testimony. Fervently believing that with practical approaches including adjustments holistically, physically, spiritually, the shifting of your mind, perspectives, thoughts, world views, WISDOM, you can experience ultimate change. If that seems like a lot, you've obviously never felt the extreme debilitation that anxiety can cause. Oh and panic attacks are no walk in the park either. So hear me out Publishers! And readers? I can help! I WANT TO HELP. Jesus is telling me to help! And when Jesus speaks, its best to listen!
If you begin to honor the vessel God gave you; ultimately honoring God, you will in fact heal from anxiety. ~Jodi Howe
A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Prov 24:5-6