Name: Sheree B.
Occupation: Higher Education
Tell us your story:
There are times when the weight of life seems to be within your strength to carry, and other times when it is clear you are in over your head. While living through my dad’s battle with cancer and grief from his eventual passing, a long-term and trying relationship, family trials, and engaging in the everyday hustle of a millennial black woman; I definitely found myself in a season when I felt in over my head. My world and every known before comfort was shattering, changing, defining, refining, and questioning. To cope, one of the first things I did was push to the side my strong and growing relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I pushed Him aside because, in light of my new circumstances, I became terrified to hear what God had for me and of His will for my life. So I plugged my ears, kept my head down, prayed every once and a while, and largely walked the new road within my own strength. I’ve come a long way since then and learned a lot about myself and the character and love of God. That said, moving in one’s own strength – under those profound circumstances – definitely has consequences. Along the way, I’ve struggled with depression, extreme and constant exhaustion, new fears about my health and of falling behind in life; which finally accumulated to anxiety.
Towards the end of last year, I struggled with anxiety like never before. It has caused me to call off sick from work and dance (my passion), as well as pay a few trips to urgent care. I would go through entire weeks with unrelenting stress and fatigue, and constant chest pressure – hint, the reason for the trips to urgent care. I didn’t even have to be stressed to have the symptoms. Often times, they would just hit after the slightest worry, e.g. “did I forget to turn off my heater?” The physical effects alone were enough to cause me to wonder and stress if it all would be the end of me – which didn’t help the anxiety. But God. I had been scared to trust in Him completely up to end of last year, but one day while heading home from work, my anxiety had gotten to the point where I felt like I was losing my ability to breathe and keep conscious. Nothing I knew to do was working. It was clear to me then that I needed to surrender my whole life to the Lord, like for reals. Laying all my struggles and victories at His feet. I still have the attacks every now and then, but not as often for as long as before I decided to completely trust in God.
I realize that I’ve been through a lot of emotional and spiritual strain, and carrying that for as long as I did will definitely wear on a person. The attacks I have now, I know, are just the collateral damage. Like aftershocks following a major earthquake. I take my days in stride. I listen to my body and make taking care of myself a priority – sometimes it means avoiding spaces that you know will trigger you. And I listen to and connect more with God. I strive to trust in Him everyday.
My story isn’t pretty, rather kind of messy, but it’s real and human. And I’m alright with that.
What advice would you give another woman who is going through a similar experience?
For those who believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ: no matter what, trust Him in your circumstances and trust Him with your life – not because of what He can and will do for you but because of who He is. Trust me, it’s enough. He is good and has goodness for you, and shows you goodness despite yourself. Hold on to these truths and His other promises when the road looks bleak. For those without relationship with the Lord: I’d first encourage you to have one, and pray that you will someday soon. It might seem silly to you now, and/or you feel you’re more than capable of handling life on your own terms. Maybe, but as I’ve learned as a believer, that’s not the issue. The issue is what quality of life are you able to maintain for yourself? At some point, we all find ourselves in a position where we need something bigger than ourselves and our means. For all: take good care yourself and take note of what you’re experiencing in life. Face and address your mess when you identify it. Don’t just push through. There’s only one of you and you’re so needed and valuable and loved. It’s so easy to let the world and noisy opinions push you past your limits. Take care. We’re not perfect, but we also weren’t meant to be. Also, don’t walk by yourself. Talk to friends and family that you can trust with these things. No one does life entirely on their own, because I mean, life gets real. Lastly, I’m cheering for you!