Life Update

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting any writing lately, it’s because exciting things are happening over here –>

Teaser: travel, service, Jesus



Church : a poem

The outdoors was my church today
I danced for the Creator
Down a dirt trail
Framed by woods
Songbirds graciously accompanied
Me in worship
As I lifted hymns
To the skies
A family of turkeys greeted me
As they crossed my path
“God be with you”
I could hear them say
Trees, swaying in the breeze,
Nodded their heads at me
And I thought, why can’t people
Be as agreeable as they?
I took communion by a stream
My cupped hands, a wine glass,
Received fresh, cool water
A crab apple provided my bread
Rows of corn were pews
For the congregants
And I fellowshipped
With a fox and deer
Roses provided a fragrance
Sweeter than incense
It brought me
To my knees
The landscape before me
Could never be captured
In a stained-glass window
There are colors in this sunset not yet named
The sermon wasn’t profound
But I’ve never felt this peace
In a building

The Face of Anxiety


“What exactly do you mean by that?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question when explaining that I struggle with anxiety.

I always say “struggle with” instead of “have” because the moment that anxiety becomes a quality I possess instead of an invasive disease is the moment I will have lost the battle over ownership of my own mind and body.

I suppose I can understand the confusion. Anxiety, like other mental illnesses, is brought on in different ways and manifests itself differently in each life it seeks to hold captive. The severity can look different from person to person as well as from one situation to another. What causes crippling anxiety in one person may be no more than a hurdle to someone else; similarly, one event can cause a panic attack for me while a similar high-stress event can be dealt with sin problema. However, it is also important to keep in mind that most people don’t broadcast their struggles for the world to see; you may be unaware of the true hold that anxiety has on someone’s life and behaviors.

The causes of my anxiety are multifaceted; I will leave them for another article. But I have identified triggers, which I outline here. I remember experiencing symptoms of anxiety several times in high school, but it was my freshman year of college when I experienced my first panic attack and sought professional and medical attention. Since then, my anxiety has ebbed and spiked due to different events in my life. I take medication for my anxiety and hold hope that it will not be something I have to deal with my whole life.

“It’s all in their minds,” my classmate says, responding to an article we were reading about depression.

Beginning in seventh grade, I experienced the disbelieving and misunderstanding attitudes of people close to me toward mental illness. This was before I experienced life-altering anxiety myself. Even then I knew that scientific and medical research supported the idea that mental illness is a true disease of the brain, and that victims of the disease needed support and compassion, not blame or belittlement.

Over ten years later, I still find myself trying to convince people that mental illness is not just laziness, weakness of mind, or lack of faith. And at times I almost believe the lies told about me and the disease with which I am afflicted. It is easy to be driven to isolation. “No one can hurt me if I just stay home,” my untrustworthy brain whispers. My heart agrees, “Let’s hide from pain.”

Because I find myself struggling to explain the effects anxiety has on my life to friends and family, I decided to compile a list of some snapshots into times of my life when my anxiety was rather severe. The purpose of this is to show to those that care what anxiety looks life — the face of anxiety, if you will. More often than not, my anxiety is a manageable, if annoying, companion. However, the following were some of the darkest, scariest times in my life, and each event represents a different bout of severe anxiety. These incidents did not occur in isolation; they were the accumulation of weeks or months of stressful living. Again, I’m not ready to share exactly what the stresses were, but here were the effects:

  • A dark, rainy day in the middle of summer is exciting, but the absence of the sun on a cold day during the long winter months turns my stomach into knots.
  • After a long day of work, I pulled my car into the garage, closed the garage door, and hesitated for a moment before turning off the engine.

    I wasn’t sure I wanted to live another day. 

  • I tried to scrape the flesh off my body with my own fingernails because I was convinced the life I’m living couldn’t really be mine.
  • I locked myself in the bathroom and lay on the floor, crying until I was wretching because I don’t know how to face the unknowns of my future.
  • I couldn’t cross the road without picturing a car coming around the curve and running me over.
  • I couldn’t look at an object without wondering exactly how it came to be and how many atoms it was comprised of.
  • I lay awake all night because I kept worrying that my family members were going to die.

So you see, the face of anxiety has oftentimes been my own. And I’m not alone in this. We are the silent majority, suffering voiceless through our own personal hell. But it need not be. You can make all the difference. Ask your loved ones about their mental illness. Listen, don’t talk. Don’t try to comfort. You probably won’t understand everything they are going through, but just listen. We have suffered too long the ignorance and (sometimes well-meant) censure of those who are blissfully unaffected by mental illness.

Your support can give us back our voice.

Things that induce my anxiety: A list


AKA triggers

(In no particular order)

  • short days (when I sleep late, when an event takes longer than planned, etc.)
  • dark, winter days (weeks, months)
  • poor or little sleep
  • inactivity
  • crowds
  • strangers
  • extended lack of community
  • excessive stimuli
  • loud noises
  • TV
  • violence (media or otherwise)
  • arguments
  • conflict
  • misunderstandings
  • being sick
  • running late
  • meetings
  • performance reviews
  • messy or cluttered room/house
  • being underprepared
  • being unprepared
  • unexpected activities or events
  • overcommitment
  • involuntary commitments
  • guilt
  • grief


Being able to name these triggers has made monitoring and treating my anxiety easier. If you also struggle with anxiety, do your experiences align with mine? What are your triggers?

Almost Love

There is a feeling that cannot be named, only described. May you never experience it.

It is equal parts melancholy and grief with a hint of desperation thrown in for good measure.

I call it almost love, and it is as painful as it sounds.

It lurks in the shadows, waiting until you are on the verge of complete happiness, utter incandescent euphoria for the first time in your life.

You know you could so easily fall in love with him. His soul seems to speak your language.

But then something happens to stand in the way, like it always does.

Almost love is dashed potential. It is a weariness you feel to your very bones.

It would be easier to accept that happiness will remain always outside your reach if the cruel moments of hope didn’t slash your heart open like a knife, leaving you exposed to pillage and plague.

What causes this feeling?

Sometimes it’s his words after you’ve expressed caution, hesitating before lowering the defenses around your heart.

“I didn’t like you that much anyway.”

“I was just kidding around the other night; you know that, right?”

Sometimes it’s the disruptive turbulence of life.

He’s moving to Alaska.

He’s a vagabond just passing through.

You don’t know him well enough to follow, but you wish you did.

You do what you always do. Pick up the pieces and fortify the wall around your heart. 

I think the only thing that can heal the scars left behind by almost love is love.

And there I go again, putting my hope in love.

I guess my heart isn’t as protected as I thought.

I think I’ll appreciate that someday.




a warrior in love