[This is the second post in a series having to do with anxiety. You can check out the first post here.]
You would think that becoming a Christian would have helped with the anxiety and OCD but it actually had the opposite effect. It only made it worse. I should give a little bit of my faith background here, as it is so critical in how my anxiety has played out over the years.
The churches my family attended when I was a kid were of the Fundamental, Baptisty, Born Again type. It was the 80’s and the ‘Turn or Burn’ preaching was prevalent. God loved me and I needed to accept Jesus or I was going to hell. That was my introduction to God. To Jesus. The thought of going to hell terrified me. And so began my relationship with God. One mixed with love and lots fear.
As a young adult, I become more serious about my faith. I went to church regularly, read my Bible and attended Bible study. I really wanted God to be in every part of my life. I felt that my life finally had purpose, direction, hope. But as often happens, I fell into the performance trap with God. If I am doing the right things then God is happy with me and if I am doing the wrong thing then He is angry with me. He loves me…He loves me not. This type of thinking permeated my life and my faith. And as a result caused me a great deal of anxiety.
I was so afraid of making the wrong decision. Of God being angry with me. At times, it could be so overwhelming and debilitating. A great example of this was Nate. When I was 19, I fell in love. Hard. He was the love of my life (or so I thought… I was 19 for goodness sake and most 19 year olds are idiots). I was going to marry this guy and live happily ever after. Then the fears came. What if this was not the person God had for me? What if it was not ‘His Will’ for my life? What if I am going to make a huge mistake and ruin both our lives? Do I love Nate more than God? (THAT is a BIG no no and a sure sign that God doesn’t want you with that person). The questions would go round and round in my head and I had no way to know what God really wanted. Some days, I thought Nate was exactly what God wanted for me and other days I felt the exact opposite. So, the questions continued. Obsessive thoughts that I could not control. They would wear me down. Some days it was hard to function normally. And I would cry….a lot. I was so afraid that God was angry with me for being in this relationship.
Eventually, the relationship with Nate ended and I leveled out emotionally. This leveling out was NOT because my (undiagnosed) anxiety disorder had gotten any better (at this point, I had no clue that their something was wrong with me) but rather because I no longer had to wrestle with the question of whether or not Nate and I should be together. I would continue to struggle with the anxiety and OCD throughout college and well into my late 20’s. It was then that everything changed. It was then that the ‘crazies’ came to town….