Christian communicator and author Caris Snider is passionate about sharing the hope of God with those battling anxiety and depression because she’s been in their shoes.
In a recent TAB “Amplify” podcast, Snider spoke about her book, “Anxiety Elephants: A 31-Day Devotional to Help Stomp Out Your Anxiety,” and how her personal experiences with mental health issues inspired her to write about anxiety and depression.
Snider wants other women to know they aren’t alone — God is with them in the battle against fear and despair. Her book uses Scripture, real-life stories and advice on handling triggers to offer readers hope and tools for overcoming anxiety.
Many of the resources helped Snider herself. She 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 having an anxiety disorder.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody about [the bullying],” recalled Snider. “And 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 a 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. The condition escalated into anxiety attacks and depression, which struck randomly, 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, … going constantly, and you want off the wheel,” Snider said.
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 her doctor, a counselor, friends and family, she began to find healing and restoration.
Acceptance and healing
She hopes sharing her story will help others 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 next two books, “Anxiety Elephants for Tween Girls” and “Anxiety Elephants for Tween Boys,” are slated for release March 1.
To hear more of Snider’s story, check out the TAB “Amplify” podcast at tabonline.org/podcasts.
For more information, visit carissnider.com.