5 Lessons I’ve Learned About Self Acceptance and Serious Anxiety Disorder

Kate & husband

After coming home from an 18-month mission in Hong Kong, I found myself beyond lost socially, mentally, academically, and spiritually. I was in and out of a serious relationship which made my emotions even more confused! In the midst of all of my confusion, my mom called me to tell me she had been diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. The news was hard to take, but I kept living life as best as I could.

I felt disconnected all together emotionally from my life. Looking back I don’t remember a lot from that year.

During this difficult time, I was meeting with a counselor to help me cope with seeing my mom face a terminal illness, which helped tremendously.  I started feeling better so I made some big plans. I signed up for a study abroad in China for that next fall semester! I spent the summer before I left with my family at home, working for my parents. What happened next, I didn’t see coming, and was definitely not in my plan! I walked into church one Sunday and saw the man I was going to marry. We dated for 6 short weeks, got engaged, and then I had to leave him for 4 months while I went to China. That was not part of my plan, and was so hard!

After being in China for 6 weeks, I finally accustomed myself to being far away from my loved ones and I enveloped myself in the culture and language. That’s when I received another phone call. Mom’s cancer was worse and the doctor said I should come home. So I did. I left one of my greatest adventures and flew home to a new one.

We planned our wedding and I found myself on a rollercoaster of emotions. It was the first time I faced serious anxiety disorder. I’d never felt so great and yet so unhappy in my life. I doubted myself one day and felt confident the next. My poor fiance didn’t know if I was going to go through with the wedding. I continued therapy, started taking medication, and took it one day at a time. Then one day after talking to my therapist, my (at the time) fiancé, and my sister, I realized something; I’m letting circumstances govern my choices! I’m being acted upon and it’s making me go crazy! When it came down to it, I knew I wanted to get married and I knew it would all be okay. Anxiety is out of my control but I don’t have to let it control ME. When the thought came, “You’re not good enough for this, you shouldn’t marry him, you’re a disappointment.” etc.… I knew that wasn’t me and so I didn’t let it get to me. Trust me it wasn’t as easy as it sounds!

We got married, and guess what?? It was the HAPPIEST day of my life! I found a man who accepts me for who I am. He knows exactly how to help me cope with anxiety, stress, and everything else. The wedding day was full of peace; it was like the anxiety was washed away, but my emotional problems definitely didn’t disappear. My mom is still sick, relationships are complex and difficult, and sometimes I still struggle to feel good about myself. And that’s okay. I look back on these experiences and think, “I’ve learned so much!”

Let me lay out five specific ways that helped me, and you can see what works for you. When tragedy strikes, when you have anxiety, depression or you feel incomplete emotionally:

  1. It’s okay to not feel okay. You are human. You have emotions and none of them are right or wrong to be feeling. Accept what you’re feeling without judgment.
  2. Find a way to let your feelings flow through you. Write it out, talk to someone you trust or a therapist if that works for you. You will see your feelings with new perspective and you can better distinguish what’s you and what’s just anxiety or stress. (Remember the spirit does not put you down ever!)
  3. Establish a daily routine. My routine reduces stress and helps me ground myself. First I have prayer and meditation, I read scriptures, and I play music. These are personalized to my needs, so you do what works for you! My day is always better when I do my routine!
  4. Remember you are loved and lovable. This is the basis of what I’ve learned from my therapist, who studies spiritual psychology. You are LOVE. You are LOVEABLE. You are GOOD ENOUGH. God LOVES you perfectly and you don’t have to EARN it. It’s always there and all you have to do is believe it and reach out to Him. Believe you and every person are ROOTED in LOVE.
  5. Look outside yourself. How easy is it for you and I to get lost in the negative events, the inconveniences, and the complaints in our lives? Take a look at your friend, your parent, sibling, and observe what they’re going through. Then see what you can do to show love and support. It will heal both of you, you will feel more confident in yourself, and come closer to God.

It felt so good to finally write all of this down and share it! I hope that you feel you are never alone in your circumstances. You have, are, and will face challenges in life and I know you can find acceptance and love amidst it all. I know because I’m experiencing it right now.

Written by Kate Scott.