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Posts tagged "Anxiety"


How to Deploy Survival Mode: Some Notes on Mental Health from the Ladies of Unmapped — Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips

This excerpt comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home, by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. One of the many zingers from this spiritual memoir duet, the following passage finds the authors wrestling with anxiety and mental health issues…as related to the gospel:

The gospel gets a bad rap sometimes because it says you have to die before you can live. Which is a hard pill to swallow when you didn’t even want to take a pill in the first place.

Here’s how it goes: girl has anxiety. Girl gets tools to deal with it. Tools help. (Occasionally.) But girl ends up in a situation (usually involving failure, humiliation, menstruation, her children, all of these things, or NONE OF THEM) in which she ends up feeling totally defeated by her anxiety; we mean, crushed. All hope appears lost. She thinks she will never get better. She can’t bear to think about the looks she will get when everyone sees she’s STILL a mess. She thinks she will actually die. None of the techniques help. She is drowning, and she cannot breathe. She is sinking, sinking, sinking…and everything goes dark.

Awful, right? Like, Shakespearean tragedy-awful. Except there’s this other thing—death—and it relies not at all on the sinking girl, but on her being miraculously and improbably revived by something [Someone] entirely separate from herself. No strategy, no implementation, just plain being lifted up out of the depth of despair and placed atop some blessed rock. Death, but then…resurrection. See what we’re getting at here?

We know it’s not as simple as a granted wish. We know there’s a whole lot of fist shaking, swearing into the sky, and despair. But it took Jesus himself three days, people. Settle in: this may take a while. Chances are, we’re probably going to be staring that bastard (mental dysfunction) in the face off-and-on our whole lives until we arrive at that beautiful buffet in the sky, where there’s endless white bread and the bill is already paid. But God is right with us. The ultimate hope—for us, for our kids when we fail them, for our friends when we hurt them, for our marriages when we flounder, for our jobs when we blow it—is in the throes of death that transform into the pangs of new life.

Drown, resuscitate, repeat. Fail, get forgiven, go again. Despair, hope, defeat, redemption, over and over, until one day you wake up and you realize you’re still anxious, but you see it more clearly, for the cloudy lens it is, and you know—even though you’re not there yet, because TODAY IS A DOOZY—you know that you’re going to be okay. Ultimately, you will be whole. And you’re headed there. So you breathe, and you put one foot in front of the other while recognizing that you’re actually being carried. And your anxiety hasn’t disappeared; nope, it’s still following you around like a hot, wet rag someone keeps chucking at your face, but you’re no longer a table for two. You’ve got company, and it looks strangely like a lifeboat with all the provisions onboard (see what we did there?). You settle in, and soon other passengers come aboard your lifeboat, so you open a bottle of wine and hold hands and breathe together, everyone facing the same direction.

Another Week Ends: Summertime Blues, Aspirational Suffering, Sacrilegious Dumplings, Eternal Stakes, and Average Grades

Another Week Ends: Summertime Blues, Aspirational Suffering, Sacrilegious Dumplings, Eternal Stakes, and Average Grades

1. This week let’s start with a beautiful, seasonal reflection from B.D. McClay at Commonweal. Relentless summer heat inspires this moving commentary on the tension between absence and presence, eternity and finitude, the ever-presence of God and man’s inability to comprehend that presence. It’s called “Summer Blues: Anticipating Eternity”: What would it be like if […]

Another Week Ends: Death Cafés, <i>Eighth Grade</i>, Basement Revolver, Sterile Style, Church Planting, and the Meekness of God

Another Week Ends: Death Cafés, Eighth Grade, Basement Revolver, Sterile Style, Church Planting, and the Meekness of God

1. Lots to consider from this week’s first link: “The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life,” by John Leland for the Times (ht SZ). All told, this article is partly amazing, partly ridiculous. First, the amazing. “Death is having a moment,” the subtitle says. This is good news in the context of modernity’s widespread denial […]

J.C. Now Stands for Jesse Custer: Season 2 of AMC’s <i>Preacher</i>

J.C. Now Stands for Jesse Custer: Season 2 of AMC’s Preacher

This is going to be a hard sell,” was my first thought after rewatching season 2 of AMC’s Preacher in preparation for this. It’s a graphically violent show to begin with, but the scene where Jesus and a woman are engaged in a rather enthusiastic, acrobatic, even impressive act of coition, there’s just not much […]

Walking Away from a Murder

Walking Away from a Murder

His girlfriend had recently got back together with him. He’d have been better off without her. But tell that to an eighteen year old who’s in love. She was all he had, and all he wanted. So when he lost her, he thought he lost everything. And when he got her back, he thought he […]

On Anxiety Attacks and the Fiction of Scientific "Reality"

On Anxiety Attacks and the Fiction of Scientific “Reality”

This one, from our archives, remains every bit as relevant (and comforting!) as when Ethan wrote it in 2013. A typical description of an anxiety attack or a panic attack goes something like this: a routine behavior suddenly and emphatically goes rogue. You are driving, you are eating an orange slice, taking a test, conversing […]

What If I Never Change?

What If I Never Change?

Sydney is currently seventeen hours ahead of my beloved EST, the time zone occupied by my former homes of New York and Atlanta. Funny how waking up so many hours ahead can leave me feeling so far behind. Most days our king-sized bed holds three to four people by the time of my sons’ circadian-induced […]

The Cold Predictability of Law and the Utter Loving Chaos of Grace

The Cold Predictability of Law and the Utter Loving Chaos of Grace

In this week’s episode of Bad Theology and Good Intentions, a podcast/film/concept album I have no intention of actually creating, I read a friend’s post on social media in which she admitted grappling with her short temper around her kids. She cited having a newborn and a young toddler and not getting any sleep as […]

A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

I almost called this post “The Cage of Anxiety,” but that seemed a little hokey. Still—playing off Auden’s poem is as good a place as any to start a discussion on anxiety, which was what Nitsuh Abebe does in the recent First Words essay for the New York Times Magazine: In 1947, W.H. Auden published a […]

What Once Was Lost

What Once Was Lost

I have two older sisters who both grew up to be teachers. They are about ten years older than I am, and we lived in a very rural part of Wisconsin, and there was no cable or internet at our house. In other words, we had a lot of time on our hands, and my […]

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Twenty Three (and The Tyranny of "The Ought")

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Twenty Three (and The Tyranny of “The Ought”)

Terry Cooper defines the idealized self as “an image of what we should be, must be or ought to be, in order to be acceptable.” He goes on, “[It] is born out of the imagination and is quite impossible to actualize. It is a romanticized portrait built on exaggerated self-expectations.” In a recent chapel message […]

Another Week Ends: Go Cubs Go!, Cormac McCarthy, Dead Mothers, Email Tics, Teen Depression, and the Church of McDonalds

Another Week Ends: Go Cubs Go!, Cormac McCarthy, Dead Mothers, Email Tics, Teen Depression, and the Church of McDonalds

1. Lots of Cubs love to be had this week. First, if you didn’t see the incredibly sweet line up of grandma and grandpa reactions on NPR this week, go there first. And then there’s Bill Murray, at it again, giving a free Game Six ticket to a stranger from Indiana. And it was a […]