Am I going Crazy?
“I feel like I’m going crazy. I can’t eat or sleep and just when things seem to be calming down, everything flies apart again. I don’t know what’s wrong or what to do. Maybe I am going crazy”
Everyone feels a little anxious at times and sometimes we need to feel fear (lions and bears are dangerous). Yet there are differences between fear and anxiety, and three basic causes of anxiety. Altering one’s experience of anxiety makes it easier to deal with. Anxiety experienced over time creates various health problems so it’s important to learn to manage it. We will be taking a look all these and ways to overcome that includes Scripture.
Everyone feels a little anxious at times. It may have been when you were dealing with issues of work, school, or with family member, friends, or others. You may also feel fear about something in particular. For example, fear of heights, closed spaces, or spiders, or getting married. Psychology has several different theories of what motivates fear and anxiety and theories for how to manage fear and anxiety. We will be looking at theories of what motivates fear and anxiety but also how to manage using Scripture.
There are differences between fear and anxiety. Anxiety is a vague unpleasant emotional state that include apprehension, dread, distress, and uneasiness; it serves no purpose, and has no specific objective. Fear is similar except that its objective is specific - “Dogs bite”. Anxiety can be an adaptive and healthy response or unhealthy. When unhealthy, one may lose some of their ability to think, act, and perform well - seeing any dog after having been bitten once, can create an unhealthy fear of all dogs where the individual runs away in terror.
Anxiety is seen in one's thoughts (all dogs bite), in one's actions (avoid all dogs), and in reactions (terror and panic seeing a dog). I knew a woman who was terrified of dogs. Her granddaughter saw the grandmother scream in fear whenever a dog came near. In response, the little girl became anxious and fearful of dogs though she has never been bitten or even had a bad experience with dogs themselves. Her anxiety was learned from seeing her grandmother’s reaction to dogs.
One of the most common symptoms of anxiety is muscle tension. We carry tension in our bodies, which often leads to tense shoulders, back, jaw and neck muscles. This is seen in a clenched jaw and teeth grinding. Some people find success at reducing these symptoms with some sort of muscle relaxation therapy. Refocusing one's attention on anxiety-reducing thoughts also helps. "Fear not for I am with you" etc.
Another symptom is changes in digestion. People can have constipation or diarrhea, which can be uncomfortable and difficult to routinely deal with. Additionally, people with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) often have changes in their appetite with ongoing stress, either eating more than normal or less. Many experience nausea. This is a concern since these problems affect our physical health, and it also means your body is not functioning at optimal levels, which makes it harder to deal with stress.
While the experience of reducing muscle tension is beneficial in the present, it does not help people reduce their experience of anxiety. Yet reducing muscle tension may work because people learn to control their thoughts and bodies better, giving them skills to alter their experience of anxiety.
Causes and Cures
Three Basic Causes of anxiety: overstimulation (too much information at once), incongruity (why a loved one died does not make sense), and response unavailability (no skills to handle a difficult situation). As noted earlier, anxiety is a learned response that motivates avoidance of what one fears. Avoidance reduces anxiety.
One way to deal with anxiety is to turn the anxiety into fear. Then you will know what you fear. "I'm feeling nausous and can't eat. What is wrong with me? Better yet, what is it I fear? I'm afraid he will leave and stick with all these debts." Once you know what it is you fear you can then devise a plan to deal with what is feared. "I'll pray about it but also figure out a budget in case the worst happens. Now that can work and I feel more confident in the outcome."
Knowing what we fear and then creating a plan for dealing with it promotes self-confidence in our ability to manage anxiety.
Self-confident people know their own strengths and weaknesses and manage fear and anxiety quite well. People who are insecure or uncertain only know their strengths. Knowing both our strengths and weaknesses create an effective coping response.
Self-confident people also tend to make plans to deal with a weakness. An insecure person can transform their anxiety into fear and develop a plan to deal with it, which will create a sense of security. But they must first be willing to admit to their weakness (what they fear).
The possible causes of anxiety and fear are many: Conflict, health problems, dangerous situations, death, unmet needs, spiritual problems, false beliefs (about men, women, marriage, children), illness, etc.
“According to the Bible, there is nothing wrong with realistically acknowledging and trying to deal with the identifiable problems of life. To ignore danger is foolish but to be immobilized by excessive worry is also wrong. Such worry must be committed to prayer to God, who can release us from paralyzing fear or anxiety, and free us to deal realistically with the needs and welfare both of others and of ourselves.” (Dr. Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling, p. 66.)
Managing Fear and Anxiety
Fear and Anxiety can be the result of sin and guilt. If you committed a sin, your fear and anxiety is probably god and your own conscience trying to get your attention. Repent, confess, and seek god’s forgiveness.
Sleep - generally we need 8 or 9 hours of sleep per day. Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety. Get enough rest. If you cannot sleep, seek God’s help and perhaps that of a physician.
Be realistic - 80% of what we worry about never happens, so relax. Focus on today. Take life one day at a time.
Listen to soothing music. There is great Christian music available that can help you focus on God and leave your fears and worries behind. It may also help to listen to good Christian speakers and teachers.
Do something you enjoy. Take a break. Get your mind off your fears and worries, and have some fun.
Take action - assess your anxiety and turn it into a fear. If there is something practical and wise that you can do to alleviate the problem or avoid needless danger, take action. Devise a plan and take action. Procrastination generally raises your anxiety level. Don’t put it off.
Exercise - Medical studies show that exercise can help lower anxiety. If you are healthy enough to exercise, try it. Take a brisk walks, running, swimming or other exercises can be a real stress reducer.
Talk to the Lord - Go to the Lord in praise and prayer
“Now may our lord Jesus Christ himself, and our God and father, who has loved us and given us everlasting comfort and hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2Thes. 2:16-17).
Remember, In Christ Jesus I Am
John 1:12 I am God's child. John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 I have been justified. 1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God. 1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ's body. Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ. Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
Safe and Secure...
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God. Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me. Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven. 2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. 1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life. John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. 1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God's temple. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God. Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm. Ephesians 2:10 I am God's workmanship. Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
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