Monday, July 14, 2008

Anxiety and Life

I don't think of my anxiety disorder on a daily basis. Well, unless it's bothering me. For me, it is a part of life in this old world. There really isn't any difference for me in working around my anxiety and working around the times I need to eat. It's very much something I have grown accustom to and it doesn't really have any conscious thought in much of my daily life. To be able to control this disorder in my life, I have come to realize that there are certain disciplines I must engage in daily to get ready for the day.

1.) Recognize that I have an anxiety disorder. This seems very silly, but it's true. I have lived with it for so many years and I should know this already. However, denial isn't limited to when the diagnosis is first given. Anxiety isn't a limitation but it can be if it is ignored.

2.) Mentally prepare myself for the day. I need to think ahead, not to worry, but to plan my day so that if I realize there might be something I must face or might face during the day, I have a "plan of action" so that I feel a little more in control of the situation. I might not follow my game plan, but if I at least have one, I'll worry much less.

3.) Look to the positives- even of my disorder. I know it can seem that there are no positives of a disorder. There are many, however. I tend to give people more benefit of the doubt in discussion and action because I don't know what might be affecting them like things are affecting me with my disorder.

There's something to be said about this type of positive thought, but I would be remiss if I said that was all there was to it. There is more to it, just like there is more to the body than the skin.

Daily devotions are so essential in this. Anxiety can never truly be in control without the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ given to us by grace through faith. Here's how it works:

1.) Recognize there is nothing I can do to attain my salvation. Nothing. God demands perfection and I have more wrong with me than just an anxiety disorder. I am blind, dead, and an enemy of God. God called me to faith in Jesus Christ, without any work on my part, in my baptism.

2.) Prepare myself for the day. This isn't just a mental exercise, it is so much more. Dr. Luther said that by daily repentance and contrition I should drown the Old Adam with all its sinful desires and sins and raise up the new man in Christ. How is this done? Daily devotions. Daily prayers for daily bread God will provide for my every need: my need for forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, my need for daily bread, and for the fulfilling of my daily vocations by the gifts God has given me. I use the daily prayers in the hymnal but your mileage may vary.

3.) Remember God's gifts given me: Baptism, Mass, Confession and Absolution, and the proper preaching of God's Word. These gifts will sustain me in even the hardest and toughest of circumstance. These gifts, because they are not of myself but of God, will always be there no matter what happens. This is a calming and peaceful truth.

In Christ, I am already healed from my disorder, my anxiety. He declared this with the words, "It is finished." Christ died and rose again to restore me back to my sinless, my anxiety free, state by His grace through faith. That's so much more solid than any positive thinking will ever be! Just as I still suffer the effects of other sins while I am still on this side of heaven, I will still suffer my anxiety disorder and all that it entails. Praise be to God, however, that it will not follow me or haunt me or even cause my anxiety in eternity with my Lord.