Christian communicator and author Caris Snider shares the hope of God with women of all ages, having personally battled anxiety and depression in her own life. She uses personal experiences to help women with their faith and mental health journeys.
In a recent “Amplify” podcast produced by TAB Media, Snider described experiencing anxiety-induced migraines as early as 10 years of age. Bullying at school brought on the headaches, and when her vision was impacted, doctors diagnosed her with an anxiety disorder.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody about [the bullying],” recalled Snider, who wrote “Anxiety Elephants: A 31-Day Devotional to Help Stomp Out Your Anxiety.” “I remember when I went to the doctor and he asked me, ‘Are you being bullied or is something happening at school?’ I started to cry. That pressure was relieved. My vision came back and he said, ‘You know this is anxiety that you’re dealing with.’ That made me feel better to know that there was [a cause].”
Hitting the wall
People didn’t talk as openly about mental health back then, said the wife and mother of two. Thinking she needed to just “suck it up,” she attempted to go on with her life. But at age 28, Snider hit a wall and could not go on.
“I was pushing everything out and pushing everything down,” she remembered. “‘Trust God more. Work harder. Pray harder.’ And unfortunately, that would be the advice and the wisdom that I would try to give others.”
Snider began experiencing anxiety attacks that were debilitating and frightening. At one point she thought she might be dying of a heart attack. Left untreated, she said, it escalated into anxiety attacks and depression. The attacks struck randomly, she recalled, often while she performed normal daily activities like cooking, driving or watching TV. Feelings of panic and fear would suddenly overwhelm her, often accompanied by acute shortness of breath, racing thoughts, insomnia and an accelerated heart rate.
“It was just a constant struggle like you’re that hamster on a wheel,” Snider said. “[It] is going constantly and you want off the wheel.”
But without help “you cannot get off [the wheel]. … And I carried that all to myself. I wouldn’t tell anyone,” she said. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed and fearing rejection, Snider avoided other people and kept her battle hidden. Fear of failing God plagued her, and she worried He could never use her for His glory.
Words like “useless,” “purposeless” and “worthless” replayed constantly through her mind. Snider attempted to numb the pain by starving it. Living on the brink of an eating disorder, she suffered a miscarriage and felt she had hit the “bottom of the bottom.”
That’s when Snider sensed God urging her to find help. With the assistance of a counselor, her doctor, friends and family, she began to find healing and restoration.
Snider now tells her story to others battling anxiety and depression. She wants them to know they also can find acceptance and healing.
“Being able to [talk about mental health] began to help me,” she said. “As the church, as we walk in faith and talk about anxiety, talk about mental health. That’s the right thing to do. And just how much stronger can we be together if we link arms and recognize we’re not in this alone?”
Snider’s book, “Anxiety Elephants,” offers women hope and tools for overcoming anxiety. Through Scripture, real-life stories and advice on handling triggers, the book reminds women they are not alone on their mental health journey — God is with them in the battle against fear and despair.
Snider’s next books, “Anxiety Elephants for Tween Girls” and “Anxiety Elephants for Tween Boys,” are slated for release March 1. Visit her website here.
For more on the topic of spirituality, check out the “Amplify” podcast at thealabamabaptist.org/podcasts.