Let's Get Real About Anxiety!

Let’s talk about anxiety!

Anxiety isn’t just stress or feeling overwhelmed. Anxiety is all consuming thoughts that make you believe that there is no hope and that you will always feel like you are drowning. Anxiety makes your chest feel tight, it takes extra effort to breath. Anxiety is feeling like you just have to keep moving physically and emotionally, because when you sit still and think you feel your skin crawl and muscles ache, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

With anxiety the intensity of discomfort is so overwhelming that you’re willing to look like a fool in actions and words just to feel slightly better. You snap at the people you love most because any deviation from your course is intolerable. Stating harsh words relieve the tension briefly, releasing the negative energy stored within. Yet the words haunt you because they brought harm to those you care about. Then the shame cycle begins; telling you how terrible of a spouse, parent, friend, peer you are, leaving you with disappointment and disgrace.

I don’t know what my future holds. I want clear direction but it’s all hazy. I stand on His promise to guide me, but I am constantly stepping off His path because it’s uncomfortable, it’s unknown, slow-paced, and I think I can find my own way quicker.

Unlike depression, anxiety motivates and energizes yet in ways that are maladaptive and lead to emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue.

I completely understand why people turn to drugs, alcohol, self-harm, and other unhealthy coping behaviors to help control their anxiety. They just want to have a moment of relief! I am blessed to have walked this road myself and with many others, so those unhealthy behaviors, though certainly tempting, will not truly alleviate my struggle, therefore I don’t even go there!  

So I lean in. I lean into the uncomfortable feelings. Take deep breaths. Stretch my muscles and expand my lungs. I remind myself of things that bring me joy: my friends, my family, the sun, thunderstorms, the smell of the beach, and hearing my kids laugh.

And I pray! I pray that He teaches me through this, not just take it away. I pray that He reminds me of His promises and faithfulness, even though my memory is so fleeting. I pray to have His eyes to see His path and His calling on my life.

Then I allow myself to be still. Not easy, not comfortable. When we face our fears and pain head on it loses its power! And make no mistake Anxiety has power!

Anxiety is real. Anxiety can dominate a life. I choose to release my distorted belief I am in control. I choose to let God use me and use this in any way He desires. Only there can I find true freedom and peace!


Paige Clingenpeel

Teen Therapist working with teens and parents on TV, Radio, Web-Based Media, Blogs, and Print. Presently a monthly contributor to the women's parenting & marriage site iMom.com, and host of TBN's Tween show iShine K'Nect. Paige also provides individual therapy at LifeSprings Counseling Center, and works at Parkview Health as a student assistant counselor assigned to Carroll High School. Paige is married to Ryan and has two daughters and two sons!