Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO Fam member, Jessica Massey! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, sign up to be notified once the doors open back up!
I experienced my first anxiety attack when I was nine years old. Nine! What a terrifying and confusing event for such a young kid to encounter. And it was exactly that–terrifying. I remember it like it was yesterday. Our family was driving back home from Orlando, Florida and I made my dad stop the car on the highway because I felt like I was dying. If you have ever experienced an anxiety/panic attack, you can relate to this feeling. My heart starting racing, I began sweating, my breathing became rapid, and I had this unexplained FEAR.
Once my dad pulled the car over, my mom was instantly able to conclude what was happening to me. She knew right away that I was experiencing a panic/anxiety attack. My mom also struggles with anxiety as well as her father and my brother.
Typically when you have your first attack it snowballs and they become more frequent. I am so thankful that this first attack didn’t trigger anymore throughout my younger years. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that the attacks reappeared and were stronger than ever.
I can remember sitting in school and having to excuse myself several times a day in order to try to remove this debilitating feeling. The most frustrating part about it was that they came out of nowhere and generally for no reason. Sometimes I would have to cancel spending time with friends or engaging in certain activities from the crippling fear of experiencing any sort of anxiety. And if you know me at all, I simply enjoy doing life and, more specifically, doing it with the people I love.
These season of attacks eventually subdued their hold on me. Often anxiety results from lack of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It helps to regulate mood. There are some life changes that can be done in order to help elevate these levels such as: diet change, regular exercise, and in some cases, medication. I never wanted to reach the point where I had to rely on a medication to help me cope. However, let me say this, there is nothing wrong with using medication if needed. Mental illness is real. What you feel when anxiety and fear and worry hit is real. Don’t ever let someone tell you that what you are feeling is not real. Don’t ever let someone tell you that if you were to just trust God more, this wouldn’t be happening to you. This ignorant statement comes from those who don’t understand the character of God. For me, I wanted to overcome whatever this thing was that was stealing my joy and I wanted to learn to live…FEARLESS.
I didn’t want to carry this burden anymore. I didn’t want to hide anymore. I wanted to be fearless. These thoughts had held me captive. There is a real enemy. His name is Satan. He prowls around like a lion seeking out who he can devour. He truly does desire the demise of every follower of Christ. He wanted to keep me confined and chained to my fears-flightless and ineffective.
Now if I am being honest, anxiety, fear and worry still creep back in every so often. By the grace of God, I have learned what triggers the attacks, my Kryptonite, and have developed my own managing skills. Over the last few years, I have dealt with fewer “panic attacks” and more situational anxieties and fears. Over time, these slowly turned into thoughts and lies that caused me to worry more than I should. And unfortunately, I still have moments where the enemy holds onto victory over my thoughts. And, I have seen worry begin to creep up a lot more lately. In those moments, I NEED God to show up and reveal new heights and depths of His peace.
Charles Spurgeon said it best:
“Why do you worry? What possible use does your worrying serve? You are aboard such a large ship that you would be unable to steer even if your Captain placed you at the helm. You would not even be able to adjust the sails, yet you worry as if you were the captain or the helmsman of the vessel. Be quiet, dear soul – God is the Master! Do you think all the commotion and the uproar of this life is evidence that God has left His throne? He has not! His mighty steeds rush furiously ahead, and His chariots are the storms themselves. But the horses have bridles, and it is God who holds the reins, guiding the chariots as He wills! Our God Jehovah is still the Master! Believe this and you will have peace.”
Perfect love expels all fear and God IS perfect love. God has met me so many times during my moments of anxiety and fear. Sometimes when these emotions sneak back into my life, it’s hard to remember that I’ve had moments where I’ve defeated it at all, but then I’m reminded that I didn’t; that was all JESUS. He has defeated this struggle just like any other human struggle we will encounter. He defeated it the moment He defeated death and the grave. I just need to rest in that truth.
My prayer is that you, too, can also find peace in your moments of despair and find comfort in the fact that you don’t have to fight alone. You’re being fought for every single day by the same King who robbed the grave.
So right now, let us lay down our worries, our fears, the moments where our mind races and give our trust to the One who can do anything!
Jessica “Jess” Massey was born and raised in Florida and currently resides in Orlando. She graduated from the University of South Florida and now teaches 2nd grade. Her first love is Jesus and she’s passionate about sharing how good He has been.