Posts tagged: Anxiety

Never Too Early, Never Too Late

By Paula Marolewski, November 30, 2009 12:27 pm

Are you suffering from anxiety today?

Perhaps it isn’t debilitating. You just can never seem to relax. Even on the weekends or on vacation, your mind is going a mile a minute and you feel wound up. You just wish you could let go and feel yourself drift again on a sea of peaceful daydreams.

Perhaps it is interfering with your life. The pressure never lets up and you can feel the clutch of tension in your chest. You can’t seem to live in the present – the past and the future hound you like a pack of wild dogs.

Perhaps it has destroyed you. Your life is in shambles. Relationships strained or broken. Opportunities lost. Life is a waking hell and you wonder how long you can endure.

I have good news for you: it is never too early to go for counseling. You can stop the anxiety in its tracks and reclaim a balanced lifestyle.

And it is never too late to ask for help. No matter what the toll is that anxiety has taken on your life, there is help and there is hope.

Trust me – today, you can take a step toward changing your life for the better.

It is never too early, and never too late.



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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What Are You Doing Here?

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By Paula Marolewski, November 9, 2009 5:50 pm

Elijah had beaten the priests of Baal at Mount Carmel and outrun Ahab to Jezreel – but when Jezebel tacked up a “Most Wanted” poster, he tucked his tail between his legs and ran.

You know the story – the wind, the fire, the earthquake. Then the still, small voice of God.

Remember what God said first?

He asked a question (I Kings 19:13):

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I don’t think the question was reproachful or demanding. In the previous verses, God had provided angelic cookery for his weary prophet, and comforted him with gentle words. Perhaps God even asked his question with a hint of a smile:

“Elijah, you’ve seen me stop the rain for three years, provide for you by the stream at Cherith, supply flour and oil for you and the widow and her son, raise the boy from the dead, bring down fire from heaven, and restore water to the earth. Yet here you are, living in a place of fear and doubt and depression. What are you doing here?”

Does God sometimes ask that of us? I think so. When I consider everything God has done for me over the decades in which I have trusted him, I am astonished and overwhelmed. He has never failed me. Never forsaken me. Yet all too easily, I fall into fear and doubt and depression. It is then that I hear his still, small voice asking me the same question: “What are you doing here?”

And here’s the key: I have a choice about where I am going to live. I can live in fear and doubt and depression, looking only at the problems that surround me. Or, I can live in confidence and faith and strength, looking only at my God who is sovereign over all.

Where are you living today? And is God perhaps asking you, gently inquiring,

“What are you doing here?”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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How Should the Church Respond to Mental and Emotional Problems?

By Paula Marolewski, November 2, 2009 5:51 pm

As the Church, it is imperative that we do not take a simple view toward mental and emotional illness. We cannot label it an exclusively spiritual problem (“You must have sin in your life or you wouldn’t be having this problem.”) and expect that confession and repentance will take care of the issue. Neither can we take an exclusively clinical approach and say that all mental or emotional illness is the result of a physiological imbalance in the brain. Instead, hard as it is, it is vital to understand that we are integrated as people: mind, emotions, spirit, body, etc. and that mental and emotional issues are frequently the result of some combination of those elements, and very often touch every aspect of our lives.

For instance, take the case of severe anxiety, which I discuss in my book Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights and Practical Help for Severe Anxiety. My own anxiety was triggered by a long-term high-stress situation. No sin involved. Just the stress of starting my own business. It was then exacerbated by the fact that, over time, my body and brain chemistry shifted due to the overload of adrenaline, resulting in anxious feelings regardless of the circumstances I found myself in. (I recommend Dr. Archibald Hart’s book The Anxiety Cure for a very complete discussion of the physiology of anxiety.) This then led very naturally to emotional depression and to spiritual doubt, as I was fighting constantly against something I didn’t understand and therefore couldn’t overcome.

It was only through qualified cognitive behavioral counseling that I was able to unravel all these various threads and address the behavioral, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that by then were all involved.

From my personal experience and talking extensively with others, I would therefore sum up the approach that the Church needs to take as follows: Love with knowledge.

Love itself isn’t enough … I have had people who love me very much say some very damaging things to me because they simply didn’t understand severe anxiety and didn’t know any better. They were trying to help, but they harmed instead.

Likewise, knowledge alone isn’t enough. Clinical knowledge keeps people at arm’s length and studies them like a bug under a microscope. Knowledge needs to be tempered by the warmth, caring, support, and encouragement of God’s love.

Love with knowledge is an irresistible combination that will draw many hurting people into the arms of the Church and the Kingdom of God.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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A Moratorium on Multitasking

By Paula Marolewski, October 19, 2009 1:52 pm

We live in an age where multitasking is expected, praised, and often demanded. How many things can you do at once? Talk on the phone, check email, pet the cat, flip through the mail, check a website, work on a project, watch the news, drive the car … we frequently combine two or three tasks at once.

Well, for myself, I’ve declared a moratorium on multitasking.

I found that multitasking, because of my issue with severe anxiety, is a definitive problem. When I multitask, my stress level goes up. When my stress level goes up, my anxiety goes up. When my anxiety goes up, I try harder to get things done faster, so I multitask even more. So my stress level goes even higher. So my anxiety gets even worse. And so on, and so on.

It was, and is, a tough decision to live out. No multitasking. None.

And this is what I found:

  • I get more done now than when I tried multitasking, because I can focus and concentrate better on each individual project or task.
  • I enjoy what I am doing more, because I can really dig down into it and experience it to the full, instead of having half my mind somewhere else.
  • I can relax more easily, because my mind isn’t always working at mach 10.

Don’t let society dictate how you work and how you live. Decide for yourself what is best for you.

© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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A Meditation on Grief and Loss

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By Paula Marolewski, October 8, 2009 8:24 am

The following is the first of seven meditations on grief and loss. I have purposefully left out any reference to what I experienced that brought on this grieving period—simply because it is grief that is the focus.

This is not a dissertation on grief or a psychological examination of it. It is the lived experience; the image of the soul; the weeping of the spirit. In it, I hope you will find a voice for your own suffering, and hope in our faithful God.

To read the other six meditations in this series, please download the free ebook Kaleidoscope from Sink Your Roots.


Healing takes place slowly. Like the measured tread of weary feet, the soul struggles to find the equilibrium of normalcy again. Tries to recall what it is to think without pain, to remember without the stab of memory. Faith seems too much a distant dream, and the thought of hope brings only  the swirling chill of November air, bleak and grey in the twilight.

And so I walk. Step by step, and step by step. I walk along fields of corn, whose dry husks and stalks rustle and clack softly in the wind. I walk beside trees and see the autumn reds and oranges grow luminescent in the golden hues of the setting sun. I walk on the edge of streams and listen to the chuckle of the water as it skips over stones, and bubbles in festive solitude.

I walk. It is a simple act that reaffirms life. My mind trudges in an endless rut of pain, remembering and hurting, remembering and hurting. Questioning in anguished silence.  Ceaselessly re-living the moment of separation: joy lost; dreams destroyed.

But I walk. My eyes, though drawn, can still see color. My soul is lost in the grey land, where stark images of black and fearful white shimmer momentarily before being swallowed up in the never-ending grey. But my eyes can still see the October blue of the sky; can still behold the rich russet of the leaves; can still pause to commit to memory the laughing golds of black-eyed  susans seen peeking out between a thousand beige-toned and fluffy-headed grasses.

It is there, imperceptibly, that color begins to return within.

I walk. There is a voice I will never hear again; words held sacred whose syllables will nevermore fall on my ears. Perhaps more than all else, it is that silence which is unbearable. It  is with words that we make ourselves known; with words that we understand that  incomprehensible reality which is another human soul; with words that we move heaven and earth by swearing an unbreakable commitment before the throne of Jehovah-God.

Is it a wonder, then, that loneliness is spoken of as silence?

But I walk; and crickets chirrup a continuous foundation for my soul to build upon. Deep among the cornstalks, squirrels rustle as they busily forage the hardened kernels. And listening still, high above, killdeer cry with the voice of empty meadows, answered once and rarely by the shrill creel of the wheeling peregrines.

It is the only voice I can hear; the only whisper that can truly comfort.

And so I walk. Each step is a happening; a drop of reality. The curve of the world is solid against the soles of my feet, and its roughness and smoothness anchors the soul of my self. Leaving  the path, the dry, cropped grasses crunch under my steps. A pause; a kneel on cold-hardened  ground; fingers extend to touch the silken whisper of milkweed wishes, or to pet the barred back  of a reluctant woolly bear.

It fills my body. It comforts my hands that will not be held again. It embraces my soul that will not be touched again.

I walk. Step by step, and step by step. And the smell of autumn—the rich humus of leaves returning to the soil with the promise to live again after winter’s frost—fills each deep inhale with the promise that all life shall be re-born. Not without trials, but with the surety of every step.


© 2008 Paula Marolewski,

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Cast All Your Cares Upon Him

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By Paula Marolewski, September 14, 2009 8:16 pm

A few thoughts today on what it means to cast all our cares on the Lord …

What are we giving to the Lord when we give him our burdens?

  • Our worry and anxiety about the situation
  • Our obsessive desire to think about the situation
  • Our need to control the situation
  • Our helplessness because we can’t control the situation

What are we not giving to the Lord when we give him our burdens?

  • Our concern for the situation
  • Our grief and  hurt caused by the situation
  • Our responsibility toward the situation

What do we receive from the Lord when we give him our burdens?

  • The internal, spiritual resources we need to deal with the situation
  • The wisdom to identify our responsibilities within the situation
  • The ability to rest despite the situation
  • The peace of knowing that God is sovereign over the situation


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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A Smooth White Seashell

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By Paula Marolewski, September 2, 2009 6:17 pm

My calendar has a beautiful quote on it by an unknown author:

“Today is a smooth white seashell; hold it close and listen to the beauty of the hours.”

It reminds me to slow down. To live in the present. To stop the rush, the hurry, the worry, the freneticism.

The only day you have is today.

The only time you have is now.

Slow down. Treasure the moment. “Listen to the beauty of the hours.”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Severe Anxiety: Confronting the Social Stigma

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By Paula Marolewski, August 20, 2009 7:54 am

It’s strange: we don’t mind saying we have diabetes or heart trouble or a broken leg … but nobody wants to admit that they have severe anxiety or an anxiety disorder (or any other mental or emotional condition). There remains a very real social stigma when it comes to admitting that we have a problem that is located in our mind or brain or emotions.

But since writing Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights & Practical Help for Severe Anxiety, I have (understandably!) begun sharing much more openly with others about my struggle with severe anxiety and my journey toward wholeness. This is what I’ve found:

  • An incredible number of people suffer from severe anxiety. Some have dealt with it successfully, some are still deeply in its grip.
  • There are many others who are suffering from severe anxiety – and don’t know it. All they know is that their life is falling apart. But since they don’t know the problem, they can’t work toward a solution.
  • Most people know someone who has suffered or is suffering from severe anxiety. Some of those people know how to offer help to the sufferer; some do not.
  • Many people are treading the danger line of severe anxiety, living life stressed to the max and pushing their limits day after day. They have no idea how close they are to triggering a real anxiety problem.

Here’s the key: by talking openly about severe anxiety, I have had the opportunity to help people in each of these categories. If I bowed to the prevailing social stigma and kept my mouth shut, their pain would have continued unchecked.

That is why I am encouraging you today: if you have suffered or are suffering from severe anxiety, don’t be ashamed. Don’t hide it, afraid of “what people might think.” Certainly, there’s no need to shout it from the rooftops, as it were. It’s a personal matter and should be shared or not shared in the same way you would treat any other part of your private business. But if you are in conversation with someone and the topic naturally comes up, I encourage you strongly: be open about it. You’ll never know the help you might receive or give (and often both!) until you try.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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