The Top 5 Christian Responses To Anxiety Sufferers and Why They Don’t Help

Whenever my husband and I express that we’re feeling low,  stressed out, anxious or overwhelmed with life in general, nine times out of ten we will ask one another “How’s your relationship with God right now” and nine times out of ten when we are feeling crappy we will respond with “not as great as it should be”  It’s something we have always done, it helps us to encourage one another in our walk and it also helps us gauge where we each are spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It almost always points out the fact that when our relationship with God is is strong so is our mental and emotional health. I’m sure, if you are a Christian you would agree.

When my husband or I have the flu, or a cold, or are recovering from surgery and having a bad pain day, never times out of ten have we asked the other person “How is your relationship with God right now?”  because we would never equate our sickness or physical pain with our relationship with God.

When I went through my breakdown with anxiety, harm-OCD, panic attacks and depression my husband didn’t ask me “How is your relationship with God right now” in response to my mental breakdown because he knew that my relationship with God was stronger than it had ever been. He knew that I was clinging to The Word of God stronger than I ever had, that I was praying longer than I probably should have been and spending time working on my “issues” more than my therapist did. My husband didn’t ask me because he knew that this breakdown wasn’t a matter of being a lacking Christian but because I was severely mentally ill.

Let me word it this way –  My physical organ called my brain was malfunctioning and my symptoms were a generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, Harm OCD, depression and numerous physical symptoms. What I needed was a doctor’s care, a good therapist, lots of rest, a lot of support and yes, a good relationship with Jesus.

As I was developing my course for Christians I asked 100 Christians to share what advice they have received in regards to their anxiety that was more hurtful than helpful…. here were the top five answers.

The Top 5 Christian Responses To Anxiety Sufferers 

  1. Just Pray More
  2. Cast All Your Cares On Jesus
  3. Just Stop Feeling Anxious
  4. You Just Need More Faith
  5. Maybe It’s A Generational Curse, Demon, Spirit ETC….

When I would pick up a Christian book on overcoming anxiety usually most or all of the above advice was included, to be honest I couldn’t’ bare to read it. It hurt me so badly and often made my anxiety worse. Not because it was bad advice, or not because it wasn’t true. I believe in all of the above. I believe we need to pray more, I believe that we need to give all our worries to God, I believe in just pulling up your boots and not letting anxiety control you, I believe that a stronger faith is the foundation of our peace, and I believe that there are spiritual forces that rob us of our peace.

That said, when you are as mentally ill as I was all of the above screams YOU’RE AT FAULT FOR BEING ILL and this type of advice filled my shame and threw me into isolation. It made me feel so alone and so untouchable and it also trains you to stop sharing and keep it your dirty little secret.

When I meet someone who is struggling with mental illness these are generally my five top responses…

  1. I’m so sorry that you are going through this.
  2. You don’t have to feel ashamed for feeling this way, it’s not your fault.
  3. Let me know how I can pray for you.
  4. Are you seeing a doctor and therapist?
  5. Thank you for sharing, I know that wasn’t easy but I’m glad you did.

To be honest with you, As I’m getting ready to launch this course, you keep hearing me go on and on about,  I have this fear that I’m exhausting my audience “blah, blah, blah, anxiety anxiety! I’m bored, or I don’t have anxiety what does it matter to me, or where are the Trump Posts?!”  Yes, I have a GREAT imagination!  In fact, I was feeling this way the other day, with a few tears to God about how much I hate marketing and selling ME. Then I receive an email from someone who has seen an Instagram post and is so glad they have found me,  a tweet that was shared to a friend who is struggling, a blog post that hundreds have seen and a Facebook ad that sayscan I help and someone comments Yes, Please Help Me!

When I receive these this is what flashes in my mind… Someone lost, that kind of lost feeling when the only thing you hear is your own breath, the racing worry that you may never be found, the anxiety that it will be darker soon and you have nothing to get you through the night and just when you are about to give up you look up and you see a light and a sign that says “this way.”  

I’m obviously not the light but I am the crazy lady holding the sign and not because I’m a champion, a super intelligent super human, an angel sent from God, but because I once was lost and then I was found.

This journey is different for everyone, some have had anxiety from childhood, others from a traumatic event or a period of high stress that their minds finally surrendered to. Maybe it’s mild, maybe you were like me and you can’t even shower, eat or sleep. Or maybe you’re fine and it’s your spouse or daughter or friend who need your support.

If you feel like this is it for you. I want you to know 6 things…. 

OR

If you know someone who is struggling I want you to tell them 6 things…

  1. I’m so sorry that you are going through this.
  2. You don’t have to feel ashamed for feeling this way, it’s not your fault.
  3. Let me know how I can pray for you.
  4. Are you seeing a doctor and therapist?
  5. Thank you for sharing, I know that wasn’t easy but I’m glad you did.
  6. Can I help you?

2 thoughts on “The Top 5 Christian Responses To Anxiety Sufferers and Why They Don’t Help”

  1. Sophia says:

    Dear Sarah,
    I just want to say this……..don’t give any more thought to the fact that some folks might be saying “blah,blah,blah” to your posts on anxiety, panic etc. Perhaps it is time for them to move on. (And I say that with all kindness). There are still many of us who are new and very thankful to your postings. You are perhaps right where God wants you. Everyone starts at Grade One.
    Thanks you are a Blessing.

    1. Sarah E Ball says:

      Hi Sophie, thanks so much for this! I’m going to remember this for a long time. Jesus came for the One.

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