Airport Anxiety

When I entered addiction and mental health recovery in 2010, I was taught that I would have to face the challenges that arose while navigating life on its terms. Prior to 2010, I didn’t handle unexpected circumstances very well. In challenging situations a surge of anxious feelings would rush up my spine, through my neck and cause me to explode with emotions. When faced with anxiety, I would react with panic, anger, confusion, and hopelessness. Something was missing. I lacked the ability to deal with the standard, run-of-the-mill chaos that life presented me from time to time.

"Do not be anxious about anything..."

My loved ones, friends, and co-workers noticed how unexpected inconveniences brought out intense ire and even rage. Before recovery, I raised my voice in stores, on the bus, on busy streets, and even to complete strangers. All of this was triggered by day-to-day anxiety.

The text from Philippians says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” This is a big ask. If only it were that easy. Wouldn’t it be great if anxiety could be switched off like a reading lamp on your bedside table? In my experience, addressing my anxiety and how I deal with it has taken 14 years. I am still learning how to react with grace and patience.

Gratitude and Thanksgiving...

Another excerpt from Philippians states, “Let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving.” This is where the spiritual wisdom imparted by others comes into play in my life. As I learned to deal with the simmering undercurrent of anxiety in my life, I put time into prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving. I was skeptical at first, but building a foundation of appreciation for what I have actually allowed me to lessen the impact of my anxious disposition.

Inevitable Anxiety

I’ve discovered that there will always be occurrences such as long lineups at the bank causing you to be late, traffic disrupting your itinerary, and unexpected illnesses delaying your plans. However, I have to be prepared to handle these minor setbacks.

Recently, I sat at the gate waiting for a flight. All hope seemed to be lost. A massive delay hit, and all of my fellow travelers came up to the counter. I was ready. The wave of anxiety hit. It is never a comfortable feeling. My mind wandered through possible scenarios: missing our connection, being a day late to our destination, or a long layover. Things went the same way that they have for the last 14 years. I gave thanks for the gift of a vacation, I gave thanks for time away from my career, I gave thanks for the money that I could spend on the trip, and I gave thanks for being able to spend a week with my wife. Before the rush of anxiety surged up my spine and rested like a storm cloud above my head, I was able to cope.

Make sure to comment below and join the conversation!

Seth Perry

Seth Perry

(he/him/his)
ELCA Pastor -Devotional Blogger- Mental Health Recovery Educator-Living Well with Bipolar Type 1

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10 Responses

  1. Thank you for this message! You are learning by doing, that it takes time to teach the brain better responses to triggers in life that may lead to knee-jerk reactions. Establishing new connections in the brain is possible. Repetition of new thoughts or behaviors, such as choosing to think of examples of gratitude in your life, makes the new connections in the brain, stronger. not always easy to deal with unwelcome and potentially disabling thoughts that show up, but thankfully coping skills and prayers give some tools to help handle them. I like how you described “simmering undercurrent of anxiety.” Over my 45 years as an RN, I’ve worked with people who were so used to living that way that they didn’t know how life could be without a constant undercurrent of anxiety.

  2. You speak the truth, Brother Seth! The Holy Spirit is using your ministry to show folks that there is another way to living than the one in which they have been tethered to chains, holding them back from experiencing the joy Christ Jesus wants them to have.

  3. It can be frustrating when life doesn’t meet our expectations. On the other hand, as you said, we learn to expect and deal with the unexpected. For me, even is I don’t get what I want, I have to look at the part from a different angle to appreciate what I did get, rather than what I thought I wanted and didn’t get. There is always a good part to everything.

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I have felt anxiety as long as I can remember. In this devotion I will explore my relationship with anxious feelings.