It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since I first stepped foot on the stage of BET’s Sunday Best Season 2. It seems like yesterday when I received the call that I made it through the auditions and was on my way to Atlanta to compete nationally. As I look at how far I've come, and how different I am now from the girl that stood on that stage, it reminds me just how long it's been and how much I've grown in my music ministry and as a woman. I was afraid then and I struggled to function amongst all of the new people that were in my space. It was difficult for me to be in a new environment away from the things that made me feel safe because I was holding a big secret. The whole time I was hiding that I suffered from social anxiety disorder.
I remember how people would comment and say how it looked so easy for me, but the truth is I secretly had a panic attack before every performance. People often think that when you suffer from this condition that you are a mute or that you’re shy. But the truth is on a good day, I can be the most social person in the group, but on a bad day, I can be like a hermit hiding in a shell I’ve created for myself.
As a woman of faith, it was difficult to talk about suffering from this disorder because I thought the non-believer would think my God wasn’t real because he couldn’t or wouldn't heal me and that other Christians would tell me to pray about it because it’s the devil. Even now, as a mom, it’s scary when I have a panic attack as it causes me not to think clearly. During those moments, it’s easy for me to slip into a space where I have to shut myself off from my son because I'm too overwhelmed.
As a child, I saw many of my family members go through this and because of these same fears they didn't talk about it. I’ve learned that although it’s scary, it’s necessary to talk about it because one of the key elements to balancing anxiety disorder is have an outlet, to know your trigger points, to engage in things and live in the moment. I’m much more comfortable talking about it now. Sunday Best gave me that confidence.
I discovered at a young age that I suffered from this disorder. I dropped out of high school because I just couldn't face the other kids—I had to complete high school through a home school program. I also stayed away from public activities because I was too afraid to walk out of my house. All these years, I prayed for God to make the devil flee when I should have prayed for Google. Once I researched my condition, it showed me I wasn’t alone, that it wasn't some spiritual curse; and that I could manage it with the proper help.
This disorder is sometimes crippling and makes everything more challenging as a mom. There's constant anxiety and fear that somehow you will be the cause of something terrible happening to your child. I am constantly snapping myself back to reality, so that I can do my best to raise my child and allow him to experience a fulfilling life.
These days I have to push myself to keep from focusing on the negative side effects of my condition. I spend every day educating my son about it and incorporating it into my testimony to show people that as a Christian it doesn't make you spotless, but instead it makes you the perfect vessel for God to fill. Identifying it and talking about it gives God the opportunity to show the non-believer or the person who thinks they have to be perfect before they can come to Him that God will work with your imperfections and use it to bless other people.
Motherhood has also helped me manage my panic attacks, along with my gift and music ministry because they give me a great responsibility and remind me I have purpose.
Latice Crawford is a recording artist. Her new project, A Diary of a Church Girl is available everywhere. Listen to her single, "Author" here.