When Anxiety Moves In
When I was 20 years old, I woke up one day with this horrible nausea I thought "I must have the flu." After a few days, I took a pregnancy test because that had to be the only alternative to sudden, progressive nausea. Little did I know that waking up with nausea would change my life forever.
After dealing with debilitating nausea for over a week and a negative pregnancy test, I finally went to the doctor. They ran tests and told me I just had indigestion. The doctors' dismissal started the spiral of acute panic attacks that ended up disabling me from any joy in my life.
From nausea, my symptoms became shortness of breath, tingling in my extremities, vibrations in my brain, loss of strength in my legs, feeling like everything was closing in on me, heart palpitations, and feeling like I was going to pass out.
I went to doctor after doctor looking for answers, and each time they dismissed it to stress. Finally, after months of seeking answers and being told it was in my head, I gave up going to the doctor and became a recluse at home. I was convinced I was dying every day. Each day, I woke up and thought this was my last day on earth. This feeling of impending doom only isolated me more because I didn't want to be in public when I died. I went from being a very active 20-year-old to a recluse, isolated, miserable young lady.
I was a new mom, newly married, running a business with my mom at the time, and living with extreme perfectionism in my home. It had to be perfectly cleaned, decorated, and organized along with perfect dinners on the table and looking my best wherever I went. I put so much pressure on myself to appear perfect to the outside world.
I had a childhood full of trauma from sexual, verbal, and physical abuse in extreme ways. Coming out of my childhood, I had so much accumulative grief that that morning, when I woke up, it had finally come to a head. It started with nausea and quickly became Panic Disorder with PTSD and Agoraphobia. (Fear of leaving my house)
Though I did push through and leave my home, I was miserable. I would always be highly aware of my surroundings. Is there an EMS station nearby, a hospital close by? Who would be around me if I were to die suddenly right here? I struggled to breathe, and my irrational thoughts would not shut down!
Even thinking of it today brings me great sadness!
Anxiety comes from a God-given mechanism of fight or flight. When we are in real danger, our bodies go into protection mode. However, when this mode is broken by trauma, grief, and loss, we can see everything as a danger and respond with a fight or flight response. My thought life consumed me with "what if" scenarios that were irrational but very real. My body was in a constant state of flight. In Grief Recovery, we talk about how grief is cumulative. We add each loss, grief moment, and traumatic event into a tea kettle, and as the heat turns up, eventually, the pressure causes the tea kettle to go off. When I was 20, the tea kettle went off.
Doctors then didn't have a diagnosis to give me, like "panic disorder" or PTSD. So instead, they said, "You are stressed, and maybe find a counselor to talk to."
Well, with my very real physical symptoms, that made no sense to me then! How will a counselor stop my heart palpitations, my brain vibrating, having shortness of breath, my lips from going numb, and my eyes from blurring? The list went on and on.
All I had was the faith my grandmother had to help me! She always told me Jesus was the answer to any problem, and that answer can be found in God's word.
Though my journey with Panic Attacks, PTSD, and Depression, which eventually had me suicidal, was a long road of recovery, I did recover!
I wanted instant results, but our faith is not a microwave journey. It is a slow cooker that takes time, discipline, and consistency.
How I Went from Panic to Peace
I started reading God's word out loud every time negative emotions arose. Reading the passages out loud stopped the thoughts from spiraling out of control. I came into agreement with what God's Word says about peace of mind! I also came into agreement with who He is and His Sovereignty over my life in every area including death.
I had my favorite worship songs playing a lot! If my thoughts started to awry, I would put on the worship and start praising Him! I would thank God for all the good things in my life, even if He chose to take me home that day!
Going through the Grief Recovery Class taught gave me another toolset to help me work through grief and loss from my past and current losses, I now have an action-based toolset that I can implement right away so I don't get to that Tea Kettle place again in my life.
I want to say that I didn't become free the second I started doing these three steps. However, over time, I noticed more and more freedom and peace coming to me. One day, almost like how I woke up with nausea, I woke up and realized it had been a long time since I had a panic attack; I noticed I went places with no problem and didn't have these irrational flight or fight thoughts plaguing me. I also noticed that when they try and creep in for whatever reason, or I do get that normal anxiety or discomfort that we all experience, I have the tools to take it captive and not allow it to paralyze me anymore.
Whom the Son sets free is indeed free! So, if you want to learn more about Grief Recovery or get one-on-one discipleship, go to my website and book a call. I also have free Bible tools for you with scripture to pray out loud and agree with God when those feelings flood you. "Click Here"