I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this little saying recently. Yes, it’s a bit random, but when it comes to anxiety and depression, I feel like people look at us (people with mental health problems) differently in that we must be so “strong” or so “brave.” Of course, these things are not bad, and are usually intended to be taken as compliments, but my mind also wanders and begs the question, “Why do I have to be the strong one?” and/or “What makes me so brave, exactly?”
I don’t remember what it’s like to live without fear; I was only about 8 or 9 years old before I had my first panic attack. I guess the bravery people are referring to is just being able to go throughout my day without panicking? See to me, this feels detrimental to my personality. I want to be brave by following God’s command to go somewhere and be a light. I don’t want to be brave because I didn’t cower in the corner of my room and think about everything that could go wrong over the course of my day. I want to be brave because I took a leap of faith when I accepted an entry level job; not because I didn’t forget to breathe. I want to be strong because I didn’t fall into the temptation to gossip about my coworker today; not because I held back the tears from the overwhelming amount of people actually surrounding me on the job. I want to be strong because I shared my testimony after being led by the Holy Spirit to do so; not because of the stigma centered around people with anxiety.
So tell me what the definition is of “strong” and “brave” because when I hear these things, I become a little confused. I know they mean well, and I understand their intention. You don’t have to have the same mental crises that I do everyday to earn your bravery card or your strength card. Pray during your time of struggle. Stay accountable, honest, humble, and kind and follow your convictions. Resist the temptation to do that thing you always go back to. Pick up your Bible and read a chapter. Just one. (I’m going to go do this now, because if we’re being honest, this is the hardest thing for me to do!) And while we’re being honest, I encourage you to do the same thing, because honesty is not only the best policy (LOL) but one of the most respectable and brave things a woman (or man) can do. There are women just like you and me struggling with all sorts of different things; not just depression or anxiety. If one of them steps up and confesses, then another won’t feel so alone in her struggle and will find more motivation to seek help and acquire a peace that she hasn’t felt in a long time.
When I was a little girl, I hated staying overnight at places that weren’t my own home. I used to cry and scream in the middle of the night just out of fear and separation from what I knew. I don’t remember if someone told me this, or if I just realized it one night. God could have very well revealed Himself to my 11-year-old self, but I remember thinking, Jennifer, you are not the only one awake right now. There are people across the world who aren’t sleeping. You’re not alone. To this day, if I’m having some sleep/night anxiety, this is the only thought and concept that calms me down and helps me rest.
This peace: that feeling of calmness and realization that you’re not alone, is something that we (gadgirls) have to make a priority in finding. You are already strong and brave without your anxiety disorder or your depression. Find your peace, take a breathe, and truly go live to be even braver and even stronger.
I want to end this post with a song instead of a verse tonight (or this morning if you’re a morning reader) If you attend church or listen to Christian radio, I have no doubt you have heard and have fallen in love with this song. If not, then give it a listen. It’s i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. I promise.
If you’ve finished reading this post, and you liked what you read; if you haven’t already, please follow, like, and/or subscribe to my blog. I have so many things I want to do and so many young women like you I want to reach and I can’t do it without you! God bless you today and forevermore!