Welcome, Anxiety

It’s been quite a while it seems since I have written about anxiety. You would think that would mean that I’ve been on an up-curve lately – and I guess for the most part – I have been. However, there has still been an area that has been bothering me from an anxious standpoint: church.  If you have been reading my posts, you will already know my recent struggles whenever I sit behind the drums.  If you haven’t, you can check out these posts:

Mason-like
Adapting to Anxiety
Realizing Your Total Capacity

This past Sunday started much like the others have been.  I’d get up in the morning and feel fine and go about my day getting ready to head to church and help set up and practice.  I’m okay until I step inside the building.  The nervousness begins.  I know it’s there, but I’m able to ‘ignore’ it.  In the back of my mind, though, I know that it’s a warning shot.  It’s been happening Sunday after Sunday for a while now, so I know what’s to come and pretty well when.

The nervousness lingers around until there are only minutes to church starting.  The feeling starts to build now.  Our worship team will gather together in a circle and pray before the start of the service, but I have to sit down and try to calm myself.  I’m close enough that I can still hear the team praying but far enough away that I can have a quiet moment.  My efforts to calm myself didn’t feel as though they were being successful.  However, that would change with some help from a friend and worship team member, Glenda.  She has constantly been there for me each Sunday our team was on to play and would be able to provide the words that I need to hear.  And a lot of the time, it wasn’t that I was hearing things that I didn’t know already.  There’s just something about hearing those things from an external source that makes your mind more susceptible to accepting the words.

There was, however, something that Glenda said that I should do that changed things on a larger scale than what I thought it would in the moment I heard it.  She told me that I had to welcome the feelings that come with the waves of anxiety.  As Glenda was describing it to me in her words, I understood.  Her way of explaining was proof that she had plenty of her own experience with anxiety.  It was a message to stand up courageously, stare straight into the eyes of anxiety and say, “bring it on.”  I was ready.

The praying was finished the same time that I was ready to go.  I got up and took my place.  For the first 10 minutes, I must have been riding on the words that Glenda had said to me.  I was calm and unafraid as I got through the first song I sang…maybe I won’t even feel anxiety now.  It was once we started the second song that I was singing that I felt the start of anxiety creeping back.  As it continued to rise, I remembered my instructions.

I remember literally saying the words in my head: “Come on.  Do your worst.  I’m not afraid of these feelings.”

The anxious feelings started to grow.  At the same time, I felt a courageous strength that I’ve never felt before.  Just as fast as the anxiety was rising, it disappeared completely.  The vacuum that the anxiety created was met by a rush of feelings that haven’t had behind the drums in a seemingly long time.  Excitement.  Happiness.  Peace.

Without really being aware of it, I have had a genuine fear of my anxiety.  I have been afraid of the symptoms and the unknowingness of when they will decide to show up.  But this past Sunday, I had a turning point which, as the days go by, I feel may be having more of an effect on me than what I was expecting.  The courage hasn’t subsided.  I’ve found myself this week in a couple of scenarios where I would normally feel some amount of nervousness or anxiousness sometimes, but this time there wasn’t any sign of it anywhere.

I know it’s only been a week, but have I reached a turning point?

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