We’ve been friends for a while, and I am so incredibly thankful for your friendship in my life. But I know I changed this year. My life was rocked by anxiety and the person I once was isn’t really there anymore. She’s changing. She’s growing. She’s discovering herself. It hasn’t been easy. Anxiety isn’t something that one would wish on anyone. Anxiety is hard, crippling, exhausting, discouraging, and life changing.
Anxiety is life changing.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and find myself realizing the person I am seems so different than the person I once was. There are times I’ve cried and mourned the person I was once because in the middle of anxiety I felt so crippled. There are times I’ve yelled and cried asking for this to go away, asking for God to heal me, believing for better days that I couldn’t see and couldn’t even taste.
In the middle of it, it’s exhausting and lonely.
And friend, that is why I need you.
I need you to believe for me when I can’t believe for myself.
I need you to mourn for me when I forget that mourning is okay.
I need you to pray for me and believe that God will use this in my life.
I need you to know that when I turn down a play date, it’s not because of you. It’s because right then, I feel crippled and I don’t think I can handle it. It’s not that I am running away, it’s that I am learning to listen to myself and know when my body can’t take anymore. I am learning that saying no is okay, and who I am matters too.
I need you to know I’ve prayed. I’ve prayed a hundred prayers, I’ve asked for this to be taken for me, but it hasn’t. It doesn’t mean my faith is weak, it doesn’t mean I don’t pray hard enough, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe. Sometimes it just means God has a different plan. I need you to remember that a different answer to prayer than you or I expect does not mean that God isn’t answering.
I need you to know sometimes I can’t control the attacks. Sometimes they come out of nowhere and no matter what I do, they linger. Not because I’m not trying. Not because I want your attention. Not because I am allowing it to take over me. But because that is anxiety, sometimes it doesn’t have to have a reason to attack. And me learning to be okay with that, and rest in that moment is important.
I need you to know that when you answer the phone to listen to me cry when I am in the middle of a crippling anxiety attack, it means the world to me. When you’re there despite what you don’t understand, it reminds me that the lie anxiety tells me of being alone is just that, a lie.
I need you to know that as I walk through this journey, I’m going to change. It won’t always be as bad as it is when it first starts, but it may never fully go away. That’s okay. I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m learning to manage it. I am learning that it doesn’t have to control me. Maybe one day it will completely disappear, and maybe it won’t. But no matter what, I will always need you. That will never change. I am may be changing, but your friendship needed in my life never will.
I need you to know, I think it’s hard too. Sometimes I feel like a burden to you and don’t want my anxiety to cause you to look at me differently. But when I can open up to you and tell you what’s going on, you need to know that means I trust you. That means I find freedom in my friendship with you. That means I really trust that you won’t judge me, and that’s big. It means you’re important to me and I am so incredibly thankful for you.
I need you to know that I want you to celebrate with me. As each day passes and I conquer this a little more I will call you in tears of joy to exclaim that anxiety isn’t conquering me anymore, and I am growing. I’ll cry, I’ll laugh, I’ll jump for joy and I will want you to do the same thing. Because anxiety is no different than conquering infertility, a lost job, diabetes, sickness, or depression. It’s just as real, just as debilitating, and just as evil. And to me, it’s big. So when I do conquer it, it’s just as big.
I need you to know that I’m more than just your friend with anxiety. I’m your friend.