Loving Someone with Anxiety means…

As many of you know, I have struggled off and on with anxiety and self harm issues since freshman year of high school. I would love to be telling you now that I have found the magic secret of how to make it all better – but I’m not. I’m telling you I still struggle a lot with these things (not always following through but with the thoughts) and how it’s affected my marriage.

I first told Trevor about my anxiety and self harm issues the day after we started dating. We were walking around downtown Green Bay and we walked past where I was seeing a counselor. I immediately felt the need to tell him what was going on in that area of my life and in that moment I knew I would trust him more than anyone before. It was a big deal for me to spill this information so early on and feel completely open talking about it. I felt a huge sense of relief telling him and thought that this initial step would allow for open communication about the topic in the future – which unfortunately I was wrong about.

The topic anxiety and self harm and mental illness are considered taboo and too few people are willing to talk about the topic. There is a huge stigma developed around mental illness, and this is making it harder for individuals to find the treatment they need or to talk to their loved ones about it. This breaks my heart, knowing that often times the source of their mental illness is a chemical imbalance they’re born with – not simply “moodiness” as a lot of the world sees it.

The mix of love and anxiety is hard. Trevor and I have been married for just over a year – and I feel that a lot of the things that cause fights or disagreements stem from my anxiety. This is hard for me to face. I know I want and need better control over my anxiety and seeing a counselor again is certainly on my to do list, but here are a few things I have observed from Trevor’s end.

  1. Loving someone with anxiety means holding them when they shake with fear from the awful thoughts that cross their mind for no reason.
  2. Loving someone with anxiety means wiping away the tears that may not make any sense or have been caused by anything.
  3. Loving someone with anxiety means saying just the right thing when it all passes.
  4. Loving someone with anxiety means staying by their side when they struggle to fall asleep.
  5. Loving someone with anxiety means trying to understand mental illness – even though it can be impossible to explain.
  6. Loving someone with anxiety means accepting the apology and giving forgiveness, even though the apology often isn’t given right away.
  7. Loving someone with self harm issues means telling them and making them stop rubbing their wrist when those thoughts cross their mind.

This is obviously not an inclusive list – but I feel it sums up my relationship with Trevor and the many ways he shows his love to me when I am struggling.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what it means to or how you have seen someone love you if you struggle with anxiety or mental illness. Feel free to comment below or send me a message.


Recent Life Lessons

I have a lot of friends who are currently in the season of singleness. And while I wasn’t in that arena for long, I am glad I did experience it. Marriage has helped me to realize the importance of having been single and having lived on my own – even if only for a semester of college was I living entirely alone in a single dorm. During that semester I dealt with a lot of personal things, some stemming from having been long distance with Trevor, but I also learned a lot. Some of these life lessons have only now come to realization now that I have been married for a year.

God works in such mysterious ways, and we never know how these “nows” will impact our “laters”. I’ve learned, perhaps most importantly, this first year of marriage, the importance of embracing the “nows” – no future day will ever be the same as now. Today’s experiences shape tomorrow. Today’s reflections impact tomorrow’s plans and thoughts and actions and words. Everything matters.

While this post has gotten a little more philosophical than I had initially anticipated – it has been so eye opening to come to a realization that life presents us with so many revelations and that God does truly work in our lives.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

-Romans 8:28 ESV

Life is Crazy

It’s been over a month since I last blogged. I’m not going to go into details, but the time alone proves how crazy and busy life has been here. SO MUCH IS GOING ON. It really only gets crazier from here.

Trevor graduated from college on Saturday and finals are around the corner for me. I’m in a wedding on Sunday and am starting a new job in two weeks. Trevor and I leave for DC/NY in about two and a half weeks and will be back in GB three weekends in a row shortly. Life is crazy.

While I have often been dubbed the queen of anxiety, and this stuff has not made me any different, life has been different this time around. I still struggle with my anxiety – a lot. Some days I have to return home to calm myself down, others I have to get out of the house to do so. Each day is a new struggle, but Trevor keeps reminding me of the only thing that matters: God has it figured out.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 says,

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

How awesome is God?! He wants us to be people who live lives filled with this love and power and self-control. We aren’t to be fearful of what our days will bring, even in those darkest of times. We are to turn to him, and for me that means especially on those days that I am filled with fear.

So how do I live a life full of love? Lately, I have been focusing my life of love on my husband. He’s had some things going on that really call for some extra attention and love to be needed for him, and as his wife I am so blessed to be the one to give him those things he needs. I have also been working hard to pray for those in my life that I think may need some extra love, whether it’s due to school work or relationships or anything under the sun.

A life of power is something I am still working on. For me it fits closely with that self-control piece, so I’ll talk about them together. Self-control is something that is difficult to grasp with anxiety, in addition to that I often feel completely powerless amid heightened anxiety thoughts. Trevor and I have been spending extra time praying together before going to bed to work on this. He knows so well that I need prayers for peace to serve me in both areas of power and self-control. The power of prayer is so amazing, and it never ceases to amaze me how God works through it in my life.

So yes, life has been crazy lately. But God is watching out for me, and I’ll make it through the good and the bad crazy times ahead.

Like I Can

I’m supposed to be doing homework (like always…) but I’ve been sitting here thinking.

I’m getting so annoyed with how easily stressed I get, with how burdensome my anxiety is. While I may no longer be depressed like I talked about a few posts ago, I know I could still be at a lot better place.

As I’m sitting here listening to Spotify it’s so annoying(?) to me. I used to let go of all of that through music. That was my avenue of losing my stress. It’d just melt away. Even when I got solos in Stage One, those were a little more nerve wracking, but it was something to work for and I felt so empowered to get them.

Now, the thought of singing in front of people, even Trevor, terrifies me to the point of tears and anxiety attacks.

How do I get it back? How do I overcome it? How do I get back to that me that was at least semi confident about singing in front of people? I know I can still do it…but at the same time I can’t.

XO Elisebeth

The Assignment

In one of my classes – Teaching the Faith – we have to write about our personal faith journey, the moment we knew our faith started, and how it has grown. So I thought I would share it with all of you too. My faith is a very important part of my life, and I would love to take this opportunity to share this with the world.

Similarly to the author of Building Faith One Child at a Time, I have always been a Lutheran and was baptized as an infant. Especially with growing up as a pastor’s daughter, it is hard to recall a specific moment that my faith started. Thinking back in more detail, I suppose that the first time I really identified my faith as mine was after my family moved from La Crescent, MN to Green Bay, WI.

This was a really difficult transition for me and I did not handle it in a recommended way. My family had moved a few times before, but at an age where I still felt comfortable reaching out to new friends. This was a primarily challenging area in my new life in Green Bay. My parents made the decision to send me to the LCMS High School in Green Bay, which I was excited to be a part of. I dealt with a hard time making friends, being bullied by people I trusted too quickly. The bullying, in addition to the move itself, led me into a period of depression and heightened anxiety. I began self-harming.

I eventually stopped self-harming when I opened up to a friend at church who also had scars and stories to tell. She was later hospitalized for her self-harm and bipolar disorder, we sadly lost touch. Since I was involved in a lot of sports, I went to great lengths to hide my scars. Eventually I slowed my self-harm and was able to stop. This was primarily due to increased involvement in music at my school. I developed a close bond with my music teacher and with another girl in my class.

My favorite part about being involved in the music scene at my school was the incorporation of God’s Word into nearly all of our pieces and concerts. I felt a true connection to my Savior through the means of music. It was an obvious way of praise for me.

Unfortunately, later in my high school career I did begin to self-harm again – and worse than ever before. I became much less involved in all areas of school and even quit my job because of it. It seemed like there was no right answer to how to recover. I eventually turned to Pandora and was listening to sad, sappy love songs every night as I sunk into depression. You Are More by Tenth Avenue North popped up. I bawled my eyes out. I knew this was God speaking to me. Once again, He pulled me back in with the power of music once again.

While I have always identified as a Christian, and more specifically a Lutheran, nothing has been more impactful on my faith than music. To boil it down, my faith started to be mine in that choir classroom in Green Bay. It wavered, and fell dramatically as I struggled with depression and anxiety. As I have gone through college, it has been on a steady path up. I have never felt more spiritually rich than I do now. This amazes me because I am not actively involved in any music right now. The most Christian music I encounter is from a few CDs Trevor and I have in our car and by attending church. Still, this is enough to keep me focused on nurturing my faith.

I hope my story can be a source of hope for those of you struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-harm. God’s love amazes me. He saved me when I was at below my worst. He’s still saving me now.