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3 minutes reading time (541 words)

Growing through Darkness

by Alison Treichel, Administrative Assistant. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. – Isa.9.2. 

I'm a self-proclaimed worrier, and I have had many bouts of anxiety in my life time. Though, none as bad as during my senior year of undergraduate college. Even now, years later I have trouble properly describing and pin-pointing what exactly was wrong or what caused it. All I really know is that everything, and I do mean everything, seemed worrisome and that my anxiety consumed me.

This was different than any anxiety I had experienced before, I couldn't focus on anything other than a constant loop of angst and worry. It was endless. For months, my days and nights were filled with anxiety over farfetched scenarios, the future, the past, religion, salvation- you name it, and I probably obsessed over it. Everything was just too hard, too overwhelming, too scary, and I didn't know how to manage it all. I was a broken mess and I did not cope well.

One night, in between sobs over the phone, I asked my mom what would happen if this was what my life was now. She assured me things would get better- but at the time I honestly couldn't fathom the idea of ever feeling like myself again. This darkness, my fears and anxiety, this was me now. I wanted nothing more than just to feel normal again, but I couldn't even begin to think of constructing a path back to "normal". Everything felt, and looked, and seemed impossible.

This went on for months, almost an entire year. I can't even remember how it ended exactly; I remember a lot of prayers, a lot of tears, a lot of arms wrapped around me, and I remember a lot of conversations mostly with myself and with God. But my point isn't how I overcame anxiety, but rather how, looking back I recognize that time in my life as hard, trying and overwhelming, but also as transformative.

When you are the midst of darkness, it's hard and sometimes even impossible to look out and see the other side. Sometimes we don't even believe that there is another side. I had to face what, at the time, I thought I couldn't overcome. And truthfully, I didn't. I had my family and friends, and most importantly my God that helped carry me through. I was transformed, not by beating or defeating the situation I was put in, but by the experience itself.

Now, I'm not volunteering myself again or suggesting that everyone go through this type of personal and existential crisis, but I see that time in my life now as very important. What I thought was just a dark period in my life, turned out to be much more. I came out of it with a better understanding of my beliefs, better knowledge of myself and greater compassion. What I thought was a horrifying new reality was actually a growth process, a necessary, albeit terrible, experience that has brought out more of who I am and has helped to shape me. It was a process that forced me to grow, question and become. And I am grateful for that. 

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