Home > Daily Special

Anxiety Requires Courage

By Megan Wilcox Goates

I teach university writing to a rotating group of amazing and funny undergraduate students, and every semester I see first-hand the reality of mental health issues that Millenials and Gen Zs currently face. Even if they weren’t vocal about these challenges (which they are—openly discussing on Twitter their therapy, hospitalizations, and medications), these issues are easy for someone like me to spot, because a) I also have anxiety and have likewise faced depression during various seasons, and b) anxiety and other concerns have been a major focus of my parenting life.

As a special-needs parent, I’ve seen that anxiety is often more of a problem for my sons than is the rigidity of thinking, the need for predictability and structure, and the other delays and difficulties associated with being on the autism spectrum. Anxiety is real, and it can be really controlling and limiting to a person’s life.

Earlier this week, when I was at Yellowstone National Park, sleeping in a tiny “rough rider” cabin (basically camping, but with a floor), I had a powerful dream.

Dreams are the primary means through which the Spirit speaks to me. I don’t know why this is, but it is. I can always tell the difference between a random, regular dream (they are fuzzy and I forget them almost immediately), and a spiritually instructive dream (they are detailed and vivid, and the clarity of the images therein are burned in my memory; I remember exactly what I saw and how I felt). The fact is, these dreams teach me things.

As I slept in that cold cabin surrounded by mountains covered with lodgepole pines and glacier-carved valleys strewn with massive boulders, I dreamed this:

I was picking at a scab on my cheek when a big flap of skin came off in my hand, revealing a large clear glass marble inside my face, which popped out and rolled onto the floor. As soon as the glass ball left my body, I felt immense peace, all-encompassing peace—more peace than I have ever experienced. I was suddenly so devoid of energy that I slipped to the floor in a semi-conscious state. I couldn’t speak. I was still cognizant of what was happening, and I understood that the glass marble represented anxiety.

I was aware that the dream was showing me how deeply my life and my children’s lives have been affected by anxiety, while also allowing me a taste of what an absence of any anxiety feels like, which was, essentially, revelatory.

Since this dream, I’ve considered more nuanced ways through which I can help my children understand their anxiety responses. Part of this is examining my own anxiety and determining better approaches for modeling that peace which I felt in my dream.

It’s something for us to work toward—responding to our physical anxiety in a way that acknowledges it, but which confidently moves us forward to a better place, where we are able to stop destructive thinking patterns and use mindfulness to quell the anxiety. In my family, we still religiously use therapy and medications, both of which allow us to successfully do life, and which I daresay will continue until we reach the spirit world or Jesus comes back to earth, whichever’s first.

Yesterday, I asked the internet what it considers to be the opposite of anxiety, thinking it might show me words like calm and serene. You guys, it did. But it also defined the opposite of anxiety as courage. Courage!

I’m about to do that trope-y Latter-day Saint thing where I whip out the dictionary definition of a regular word, but stick with me, bro. I have my reasons.

Courage, according to Merriam-Webster is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

I share this definition because it’s glorious in its beauty.

Courage is the inner fortitude to venture and persevere. I’m a word person, and those are two pretty ding-dong amazing words.

My dream out there in the woods of northern Wyoming was a catalyst for seeing the fleetingness, the not-eternalness of disorders of the mind and of emotions. While they are consuming and can be overwhelming, they are limited to mortality, and can and will be plucked out of us cleanly and completely when we are healed by the Savior of every struggle and infirmity.

It was a dream that spoke to me about the fact that my Heavenly Parents know exactly how we are affected by our challenges—mine, my kids’, my students’. They know. They get it. They love us and they want us to work toward having not just all-encompassing peace, but also toward having the actual opposite of anxiety.

They want us to have courage.

About Megan Wilcox Goates

Megan Wilcox Goates is raising four fire-cracker sons while reading all the books and teaching writing to university students. She writes about faith and special-needs parenting at tooursurvival.com

5 thoughts on “Anxiety Requires Courage”

  1. My dream out there in the woods of northern Wyoming was a catalyst for seeing the fleetingness, the not-eternalness of disorders of the mind and of emotions. While they are consuming and can be overwhelming, they are limited to mortality, and can and will be plucked out of us cleanly and completely when we are healed by the Savior of every struggle and infirmity.

    These words spoke to my heart today, Megan. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing your sacred dreams with us. In this life Anxiety may prevent us from feeling the peace you felt in your dream, but it need not prevent us from having Courage!

    Reply
  3. I getcha about the dreams. Some of my most profound life instructions has come through dreams like the ones you describe. Thank you for sharing so articulately. Thank you for embracing courage that comes with its own spikes and challenges. Thanks for sharing your journey!

    Reply
  4. Beautiful. Sometimes I think we don't realize how much anxiety we're even living through until we have a glimmer without it. Love when you share your glorious dreams. Xo

    Reply

Leave a Comment