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A letter to my friends about my anxiety

Dear friends,

I've had so many thoughts about NOT writing this, but I finally decided to.

The reasons behind my decision to write this letter are these:

  • I see the stigma over mental health in the Christian community, as rampant as ever, and I honestly refuse to add to it with my silence;

  • I believe that there is power in prayer and strength in the honesty of admitting that we need help and in seeking out community;

  • and, lastly, I value and treasure my friends so much that I want to try to explain.

You see, I've had several people ask me out for coffee or tea and several people ask me to dinner and several people simply ask to spend time together and I've declined each one.

This started several months ago, and it wasn't until I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago that the word "isolation" was used. And I realized that that's exactly what I've been doing. If I'm not working, then I don't leave the house unless I absolutely have to. My appointments are almost always over the phone - or they don't happen. On the rare occasions that I absolutely have to get out, such as a trip to the doctor that can't be avoided, I usually manage to go but I hold things in my hands to fidget with.

I haven't been able to go to a store physically in over 3 months with the exception of with and for a Client, and I haven't been able to go to a physical Church building in over 3 months either. I have not neglected my studying and I've not neglected my relationship with God in the majority of ways. I have, though, neglected worship and I admit that I am struggling in that area.

Especially when it comes to music, as I still cannot sing or listen to music. It's something that I hope to continue to work on and I know that I will - because I know from witnessing the power of TRUE worship, that chains can be not only broken, but ground into dust.

I see myself in this place now, for lack of joy and in an almost numbing pain, I seem to have lost my voice. But I have not lost my heart. I understand where I am and I want to get back to where God has designed me to be.

I know that, through God, I will overcome it. I ask myself why I'm not there yet. Why can't I turn on the radio or play Christian music and sing like I used to? And I get frustrated with myself - sometimes even mentally beating down on myself - and call myself a hypocrite for preaching the value of worship but not yet being able to audibly celebrate and musically worship.

Off the rabbit trail and back to isolation: Going out has become so intimidating that I've been taking my dog with me anytime that I do pick TJ up from school. And I'm getting him further trained now to be a support dog.

I have been given the proper paperwork, designating him as my Emotional Support Animal and I took him to Walgreens for the first time last week. He did amazing.

He has a little harness that he wears, and he sits in the cart and helps me through the store by just being there.

I know support animals can sometimes get a bad rap, especially if they're for mental illnesses like severe anxiety or depression or even PTSD, but, for me, having him there has made the difference between me going inside the store or not even getting in the car to leave the house.

In the store, he didn't sniff at all, and he didn't make a sound. He just sat there and, somehow, he knows that I need him.

When I wanted to look at something across the aisle and step away from the cart, I simply held up my hand and gave him a hand signal and he laid perfectly still, not moving a muscle, as I walked away from the cart, looked at some things, and came back to the cart. They gave me a treat to give him while I was at the pharmacy desk getting prescriptions and he didn't try to go after the treat or sniff for it. He knew that he would get the treat when I told him he would get it, which would be after the store.

He was amazing and it was the help I needed to go to the store by myself.

This topic carries the weight of ridicule and the burden left from those who are just looking for a break in their pet deposit as opposed to those who truly need a companion to weather the storm, however temporary, and, unfortunately, Christians especially, are the most judgmental of all due to belief that your "faith should be enough" to lift you out of the pit - but what I'm going through is very real for me and, as hard as I might try, I have not been able to scale the muddy walls of the steep valley I am in.

We each have different struggles that are hard for us to explain to others.

But keeping our struggles and battles quiet - for the fear of what others might think of us or our faith walk - is not the way to handle things.

The way to handle things is to be honest about where we're at

- with ourselves, with God and with others -

and find people that can help us figure out

how we are going to overcome where we're stuck at.

So I'm writing this, and inviting my friends to read this, to let you know that when you ask me to come over for dinner it's not that I don't want to. It's that I'm afraid that I might get emotional and cry and I think of how embarrassing that would be. I'm afraid that I won't be good at conversating because of all the things I have on my mind. I'm afraid of being awkward, and, when I go out, I'll realize how alone I am. I might have memories of going out with you and your spouse, but they might also be memories of me and my husband going out with you and that might be hard for me.

Stepping out into these places I've been invited to are sometimes reminders of how much things have changed and they're a little hard to take in without getting emotional. So, when you ask me to join you, please understand that I want to - with all of me - and I love you - with all of me. I love each and every one of you and the many ways that you've supported me throughout this.

Please understand that I don't mean to push people away and I think one of my biggest fears right now is that I'm going to lose all of my friends. I don't want that. So, starting here in March, I'm making a goal to try my best to get out two times a month whether it's for drinks or whether it's to the store. Maybe we could go shopping together? Or maybe we could go somewhere that we haven't been before to eat or to get a drink? Something that doesn't already have memories attached to it for me just so I can start out taking the baby steps I need to to be able to climb out of this hole rather than slip in deeper.

I hope that, as my friends, as you're reading this, that you won't judge me too harshly but that you will show me grace and understand that I already know where I'm at and I already know that God is bigger and I already know what God can do and that He is working on me - but that it might take a little while this time. I've been through a lot and I've seen God do amazing things.

I sincerely believe that there's nothing God can't do.

The things I've already seen Him do, astound me.

And I know that He can put together all the broken pieces that I feel like I have because, while I see myself as broken in some ways, God sees me as a beautiful, whole person with no flaws, because I have been renewed by Christ, set free from my chains, and already refined through the fire. God sees the finished work.

I know what God can do. I've been through so much in my life. I've been through so much, since the beginning of my life - since I entered this world. I know what God can do. I know that God is bigger. I know that His Word is power. I know all of these things. So, I can firmly believe that God will restore me to the whole, joyful, optimistic, brave person that I once was.

I want to thank everyone for being there for me. Thank you to those of you have who have not given up gave up on me. I've not vanished. I'm still here. I'm just going through the fire right now still. Because God processes and clarifies things through the fire and real refinement takes time. The great thing about a Refiner is that He never leaves the fire while the work is in it.

This world is a broken place

but God is the Perfecter

of all things

and when we trust Him,

He restores what the world

or people have damaged.

God is able - even when we feel unstable.

The harshness of this world is like sandpaper that can smooth and polish us out into something beautiful. I believe that.

We experience troubles and afflictions because we live in these bodies which have been disfigured, ruined and damaged by sin. Every day, our bodies are wasting away and, in the moments that we have, we have to try to continue to seek the purpose we have been uniquely designed for.

The Bible never says that we won't get knocked down

but the Bible does tell us to get back up when we do.

Understand with me that we are going to pass through seasons, valleys, and wilderness-moments where we feel attacked on every side. The beautiful thing is that God can strengthen us as we walk in those places. Time and time again in the Bible, we are shown warriors who were created out of the wounded, prodigals who became prodigies, we've seen those who doubt become devout, and abused who are reused by God.

Thank you for being patient with me and thank you for being there for me. I still need you. I love you all. I pray for each and every one of you and I thank you for praying for me.


Sarah Jane

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Catherine Kilgore
Catherine Kilgore

I am glad that someone has the courage and conviction to talk about a really difficult subject such as this. God is the Healer and Reviver for not just physical afflictions but also mental ones. Thank you for sharing and for everything you have been and are doing right now.



Sarah, your words are amazing! The honesty of your walk can be such an inspiration to others of us who walk the same path or have been down the same the same path.... maybe multiple times. Your openness about your feelings, your struggles, and your journey through them inspire us who also walk through the same trials! Circumstances starting anyone's trial may be different, but so many have walked that road! Thank you for bringing light to those struggles and letting so many know we are not alone in our feelings walking our own paths!!


Thank you so much. Your encouragement blesses me. It wasn't easy to write about because I'm embarrassed about how low I feel sometimes. But there are many people in the Bible who struggled with feeling down or who were abandoned or who felt lost and I hope that, through my journey and documenting the ways that God blesses me and helps me, I can help others who find themselves in similar situations. Thank you for the friend you've been and are to me, all the times I cried on your shoulder (literally), and what a blessing you are to me and my children.

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