I have a long list of “drafts” of posts that I keep meaning to post and I don’t want to forget about them for someday. This one has been on it the longest, I think. And I keep putting it off or forgetting about it (on my good days). But its been coming back to mind the past couple days as I’ve been sick. So, its probably best to do it now…
It takes a lot for me to talk about this subject because sometimes it makes it worse. But other times, it makes it better.
This thing I’m talking about is something I’ve really struggled with this year. And in the past. But the worst episode was a few months ago. And my struggle is….anxiety.
Not the “oh no, I’m worried about something” type of anxiety, but the uncontrollable, diagnosable, and for no reason anxiety. Sure sometimes there are events or situations that I can pinpoint as the trigger for that specific episode, but recently, it came on with no explanation (not that my anxiety explains itself per se).
As long as I can remember I’ve had at least some form of anxiety. I remember all the way back in elementary school, when I’d go to the clinic for stomach aches. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that was a form of anxiety. Or when I’d feel like I was more nervous about presentations or starting school than everyone else.
The worst episode during this time was in high school. I think I was about 16. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I remember it coming about when I was dating this guy. Probably because I shouldn’t have been dating him in the first place, but that’s a whole other story. I remember it must have gotten bad because it affected my stomach and eating (again). I would feel nauseous a lot and I distinctly remember one time that I was at Taco Bell w/ the bf, my family and some friends. I had to rush to the bathroom while I was in the middle of eating my nachos because I suddenly felt like I was going to barf. I don’t remember actually ever throwing up during this time, but I know my appetite was gone. My mom talked to our chiropractor about it and he put me on a strict “detox” diet that was dis-gus-ting. Certainly didn’t help the nausea. I guess he figured I was suffering from a build up of some type of “toxins.” Yeah, that was it…not.
Anyways. I don’t remember how the anxiety went away that time, but it must have eventually. Surprisingly (and by God’s grace) the anxiety never seriously crept up until around the Fall of 2006. Looking back now, I can definitely see why it struck then, but at the time I didn’t know why. I ended up going to a couple of sessions of EAP counseling and through the counseling I realized that there were a lot of big stressors during this time. I had just started my Masters Degree, my Grandma (who I was pretty close to) had died from a long battle of cancer, and I was working in a super stressful environment at Circles. So, no wonder the anxiety came back.
At that time, it wrecked havoc on my stomach (nausea–again, throwing up, and other GI issues), my mind and my ability to work. I can remember battling some rough days of making myself get up and get ready, all to crawl back in bed because I couldn’t make myself go. I still remember one morning with me laying in bed, and Seth standing by the door telling me I just had to go. And I think I did. I guess that’s all that got me through at that time. That and prayer, I’m sure. I also had gotten a self-help type book about anxiety that gave a lot of good relaxation and herbal remedies. One of the herbs I tried at the time was Valerian Root. Smells horrible, but helps calm you down and help you to sleep.
Eventually, not sure how long later, the anxiety just went away. Yeah, I’m sure it came back in small doses, but nothing seriously noticeable. That is until earlier this year.
Looking back at the calendar, I guess some of the symptoms started back in February. I noticed a few mood swings out of the normal for me. I ended up going to get some labs done to make sure everything was normal, including my Thyroid. Which, of course it was. Everything seemed ok for a while, but I guess it was just slowly getting worse.
The anxiety and the accompanying physical symptoms became bad enough that I ended up starting an antidepressant to get it under control. It seemed to do ok for the first week or so, but then my anxiety turned into panic. So I had to stop that medication and wait two weeks before I could start another. I went to see my PCP, and she started me on another antidepressant. Unfortunately, these meds can take up to 8-10 weeks or more before they fully set in. Talk about suffering…seriously.
The anxiety got the worst that I have ever had. I had to take some time off of work, I missed church some weeks. I had trouble forcing myself to eat. I basically felt like I couldn’t function. I still made sure to take care of Haddie…but I just wasn’t myself. It scared me that I couldn’t control my feelings and my thoughts. I am someone that is most comfortable being self-controlled so feeling out of control is seriously earth shattering. Even as I write this, I am feeling some of the anxiety.
Thankfully, my awesome husband took good care of me. He never once complained, or argued with me. He never once yelled at me to get over it. He didn’t understand it, but he still helped me however he could. Sometimes he had to give up things he enjoyed or things he was really supposed to do, because I just couldn’t bear for him to leave. I’m sure it drove him crazy. That I drove him crazy. Other times when he really did have to go, one of my awesome friends would come over any time I called. She would help to distract me, keep me busy, or just let me talk it all out. And it always helped.
During this time, my mother-in-law, was also an awesome help. She listened to my confusing ramblings. Came and visited, helped to watch Haddie and more. The rest of Seth’s family and my family were also as helpful as they could be.
At times, I felt like I was going crazy…and that was one of my biggest fears. I’ve seen too many “crazy” people not to be afraid to turn out that way. When you’re in the middle of anxiety, a lot of your thoughts don’t make sense, and its so hard to rationalize out of the anxiety because most of it is brain chemicals, neurotransmitters. So, there’s not a lot you can do. I don’t say this to pass the buck, but because its true.
Thankfully, the medication finally kicked in. And I have been able to resume life. I still feel some limitations, which leads me to the topic of the title of this post.
Whenever I am in the middle of anxiety, I’ve tried to remember different Bible verses to help give me peace. One of them that has struck me the most is this:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
While, I am in no way saying that I have a demon tormenting me, or that I was being too prideful or that I had great revelations which brought on the anxiety… this passage still comforted me. No matter how much I prayed, it didn’t seem like the anxiety was going away. So, I had to keep reminding myself, that even if it didn’t…God was still there and working in me.
I also kept these passages in mind:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There are others, too, but I can’t remember all of them right now. But it was God, prayer (mainly those by others) and my friends/family that got me through. Thankfully the medication works most of the time. There are still times when the anxiety creeps up…and its still hard to deal with.
It still frustrates me that I can’t do as much as I was before and that certain events that aren’t even very stressful…are sometimes too much for me to handle. I haven’t been able to go on as many youth trips and I decided to quit working (too stressful of an environment and also wanting to stay home with Haddie).
But I know that somehow God is working through all of this. But I still get frustrated. Its interesting that once I started talking about it with some friends, more and more people have admitted that they, too, have trouble with anxiety. And many are also taking medication for it. Hopefully, through my talking about…others will feel comfortable to share, too.
So, there you go…there’s my struggle. Now I need to go to bed before I get anymore anxious.