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Anxiety….what a cliché
I HATE being another statistic! Everywhere you turn there is someone with anxiety, depression, bi-polar, mood disorders, personality disorders, you get the idea. There is a smorgasbord out there of mental illness.
I remember being 19 at work and hearing all these grown women around the breakroom table talking about panic attacks and paper bags and crying in closets. I didn’t believe it. I thought wow what a way to get attention. Yes, I was judgy bratty punk back then. I just didn’t get it. I never experienced anything like what they were talking about. Now depression… that is another story. But you didn’t talk about it…geez!
My first anxiety attack…. A new era of many
Fast forward about 4 years and I could now raise my hand with a dramatic panic attack story. Folks let me tell you…. It sucks! Mostly because you don’t know what it is. Mine came like a thief in the night. Literally, I was sitting chilling at home, munchin, watching tv, right after putting my then 2-year-old son in bed. I was enjoying my relaxation time and my heart started racing and I was shaking and sweating and very nervous. I was so scared something bad was happening and that I was going to die! The hubby was trying to help me figure out what was going on and convinced me that we didn’t need to go to the emergency room with toddler in tow, we would just wait and go to the doctor first thing in the morning. So I went to bed. Like literally jumped in bed and covered up my head and laid there gyrating until I finally passed out.
My new life
The next day we went to the doctor to have blood drawn, ekgs, and a whole slew of other test. The only thing that came out of that was realizing that the stupid doctor had me on conflicting medication for thyroid, weightloss, hormones, blood sugar and who knows what else. I was young and dumb then and didn’t question much. So okay, we have a solution just tapper down off of some of the prescriptions. Guess what….
It didn’t work!
This was now my life. Every. Single. Day! Looking back, I really don’t know how I survived it.
What I learned about anxiety
Anxiety is what happens when you feel out of control. Anxiety is feeling trapped. Anxiety is what happens when you can’t trust other people and you don’t trust yourself. Anxiety worked against me. It took away my ability to be present as a mom, wife, employee. Anxiety accompanied me to restaurants, church, parties, my kid’s school, the park, everywhere! It is not biased. Then this really neat thing happens when you keep having panic attacks and that is called generalized anxiety disorder. It comes with its own array of symptoms. For me it was a disorienting, floating, drunk, dreamy feeling. Try driving, taking care of a kid, trying to enjoy a dinner out or a movie or…..anything while having that feeling. It won’t happen. You will long for a place that you can get relief but no matter where or what you just can’t.
At this point I am already petrified of medicine and wouldn’t trust a doctor or prescription to save my life. So I white knuckled it….hard….for a long time. Then here comes Generalized Anxieties friend….Agoraphobia. Because if you can’t make the panic attacks stop at least you can not have them in public where they are triggered even more. That lead to staying at home a lot! I wish I could say that helped but it didn’t. I didn’t have the luxury to just go to bed and that seemed to exacerbate the symptoms even more. It was just me alone with a toddler all day and part of the night all the time every day. No break, no chance to catch my breath, no one to help. There are days I can recall sitting in the corner just reading my Bible praying for relief and the ability to make it through another day.
Some people will say that having anxiety contradicts the Christian life and believing in God and Jesus. Because if I did then I would have faith, peace, trust and reassurance, never feel alone and none of this would be happening.
God is funny that way. I know that he used my anxiety to bring me to him and make me stronger.
After over a decade of knowing the ends and outs of my anxiety, I know how I can make it work for me. I quit beating myself up. I am not a corporate go-getter, multitasker, jump out of a plane (or get on a plane for that matter) type of person. I require a slower pace in life. I listen to my body and I do what it needs me to do. I just can’t achieve what some people can achieve, and isn’t that okay? Aren’t we all supposed to be different? My God-given gifts and talents look much different than some other people’s. And it took me WAY too long to realize that. I feel very blessed to have been shown this. And I know without Jesus I couldn’t have recognized this on my own. God has shown his favor to me and awarded me a break to stay at home and focus on what I need. It works for me, and what gives me a purpose….my kids.
Finding my way out
Those years are some of the scariest years I have ever encountered and I wish so badly they could have been different. But I made it through just me and God and a forgiving toddler. I learned to trust myself and Him and gained a tremendous amount of strength and ability from those days. I have more confidence in myself now. Letting go of expectations that everyone had of me helped a lot as well as expectations I had in other people. Even though I haven’t had a full on panic attack in a while I am still thankful every single day that I don’t and I acknowledge the absence of them and do not take the good days for granted.
At the time I felt so cornered and scared. Looking back, it became a blessing because I know that I am WAY stronger than I ever thought I could be. God equipped me with the endurance and strength to pull myself out. Not any other person, not just counselors, and not medicine.
I guess believing in yourself actually does have its benefits…. Who knew. Not giving up on yourself is crucial!
Anybody else trying to white knuckle it through anxiety? What have you learned?