It may be the two cups of coffee coursing through my veins. Or the wonderful time of encouragement I had with my discipleship group. Or the amazing soundtrack from the movie Nerve. Or the changing of the seasons to one that is near and dear to my heart. Or the five months that my boyfriend and I have spent together today. Or the fact that this semester is going so much better than the last. Whatever it is, I feel alive for the first time in a while.

The past few months have been full of ups and downs for me. Part of the summer I rushed in and out of doctors appointments, urgent care and the emergency room as I dealt with severe chest pains, trouble breathing and lightheadedness. Clinically, nothing was wrong for which I am extremely thankful. However, without answers it was unclear what happened and why. One moment I could feel fine, the next I could be plagued by chest pain which sent my mind into a whirl of negative thoughts, doubts and generalizations that weren't true and ultimately caused me to doubt God and doubt the people who care for me. 

For those that know me, I love to work myself into a hole. I've already shared about my struggles in resting and taking time for myself and how well that worked out last semester. This semester it's been less intense so I've been able to 'rest' more, yet in my resting I often fail to actually rest and instead peruse Facebook or end up studying physics for eight hours straight. This semester, it seemed like every week I would struggle a day or two and often with chest pain accompanying that struggle. After much searching, I believe those pains are caused by stress and a high-functioning 'busy' anxiety.  People with high-functioning anxiety tend to keep themselves busy to avoid being alone with their own thoughts. They hide their anxiety with a smile or laughter and tend to 'turtle' or withdraw into themselves when things are going wrong instead of opening up and allowing others to help.

Recently, I've struggled with a lot of self-inflicted loneliness from shutting myself off from people. Only those closest to me who I let in have been able to see through the fa├žade. It's taken many tears,  lonely moments and wise words from my best friends to help me realize how much I'd been hurting myself through this act of turtling. I'm an extrovert and I'd go to events and just feel depleted yet still I would smile and act like everything was ok. After those events I'd feel unsatisfied because of the lack of meaningful conversation. I desired for others to go out of their way to open up when I wasn't even willing to do so myself unless probed enough. I believed the lies Satan threw at me that no one wanted to know how I was really feeling when they asked me. I kept myself busy and avoided being home so that my family wouldn't see the cracks that we beginning to show. I nearly crushed a friendship by internalizing everything I was feeling and not allowing one of my best friends to help as she wanted to. 

I wanted to honestly share my struggles as a way of opening up and to be able to use the art of writing to not only help me understand what I've been learning since June but also to hopefully serve as an encouragement to others. The one thing I've learned and will continue learning is how blessed I am. God has placed some amazing people in my life who are there to encourage, support and challenge me. It breaks my heart that there have been many times when I've doubted those people and doubted God's love for me. I'm not on any medications, I haven't been to a doctor to have them corroborate my research, however I am now aware of a weakness I have. This weakness can not always be controlled however, I can do my best to seek the support of those around me, take my mind captive when negative thoughts creep in and rest with peace in the promises of God. This song by Jeremy Fisher has been a huge source of comfort and biblical truth for when I've had days of struggle: 

Those who trust in You have nothing to fear. 
For You are our Rock, You are our God.
And though the night is long we will not lose heart. 
For Your promise is sure, Our hope is secure. 

And though our hearts are breaking Lord we pray and cling to hope. 
That you are in control and all this pain will bring us good. 
For you are always faithful, always faithful, always true. 
And we will always trust You, always trust and wait for you.

Those who trust in You Are held in your love, 
You fill up our souls, In you we are whole. 
And when weakness comes and doubt sweeps in like a storm. 
Your grace will sustain, For you never change. 

And though our hearts are clinging to the things that bring us death.
 You will never leave us so in Your great love we rest. 
For you are always faithful, always faithful, always true. 
And we will always trust You, always trust and wait for you. 

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