Yesterday, for whatever reason, was a hard day for me. It’s that way with anxiety: lots of days are fine and easy, and you go to work and come home and make chicken with broccoli for dinner and feel great. But yesterday was like some of the harder days, which is to say it was also full of anxiety, and when a meeting got cancelled I bought a pair of shoes and tried to read a book but my eyes couldn’t settle on the page for more than five seconds at a time. I felt a sense of dread settle into the pit of my stomach: you will never amount to much, this year will not be what you want it to be, your career is a joke, no one particularly cares for you.
I know these things aren’t true, and my anxiety is a strange companion to my normally healthy level of self-esteem. But this voice, once it roots itself in my neurons and my gut, won’t be silenced by reason. It won’t be silenced by much of anything, in fact; I’ve tried.
So, this is part of why I’m so looking forward to two books that will be out soon, both on the topic of anxiety. Scott Stossel’s My Age of Anxiety has been on my radar for at least a month now, and it publishes January 7th. Stossel is the editor of The Atlantic, and wrote (excerpted?) this recent piece about anxiety (his own and a history of the disorder).
Amy Simpson, a colleague of mine at Christianity Today, wrote a fantastic book last year called Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission. It will surprise exactly no one that many churches and Christians are the worst offenders when it comes to dealing harshly with people dealing with mental illness. Her new book, Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry doesn’t publish until October, but is already at the top of my list to read this year. It will deal with the idea that worry is something that can be overcome with just enough willpower (which makes me curious about the word “choosing” in the subtitle) and the notion that worry is a sin and deserves to be taken seriously as such.
I’ve come to think of my anxiety as a small, often unwanted, companion that will accompany me wherever I go. To me, this is much more helpful than trying to get rid of it, to walk it out the door or pray it away. It is part of me, just as everyone has their things that are part of them. But I’m glad to have people–and books–to share the journey.