It has been a rough couple of years. There were struggles in my extended family. My father went through a period when his health was very grave. I had a couple of health issues of my own. Some very dear friends of ours moved out of state. Our nephew who lived with us for so long also moved out of state. And the crowning touch was the loss of our church community. We had gone to the same church for 20 years. God had been encouraging us to move on for awhile. We had one last thing we were hanging on to at the church. When that thing was taken away, we knew it was time to go. Unfortunately, that left us without the weekly support of long time friends to get us through the rest of what was going on in our lives. It was hard.
It started slowly. So much so that I didn't realize what was happening until I was fully in its grips. "It" was anxiety. It took me by surprise because I have always leaned more towards depression than anxiety. The physical symptoms became quite pronounced: palpitations, racing heart beat, shortness of breath, pains in my chest, trouble sleeping. The emotional symptoms were just as bad. It mostly took the form of fear. I didn't want to be alone. I knew I was going to just drop dead. I was acutely aware of every bad thing I did to my body. I lost some weight, but that was about the only good thing going on. I was a mess.
I turned to my Bible and prayer. I felt most in control of myself when I was actively seeking God. Unfortunately, my life doesn't allow me to spend hours on end in prayer. I finally broke down and called my doctor. He was understanding and prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication. While it didn't completely take the fears away, it calmed me down enough that I could focus on getting better.
I studied and prayed when I could and things got progressively better. I hated being on the meds and weaned myself off after about 6 months. I need to say that it wasn't because the medication was affecting me negatively in any way. I would never have known I was even on it except that I didn't feel like I was coming out of my skin. I just didn't like the idea of taking a medication of any kind. I even hate to take ibuprofen.
I wish I could say that was the end of it, but it wasn't. I was better to be sure, but I wasn't free from all anxiety.
The turning point came this fall when I went up to the front of church and asked for prayer. I told the pastor what I was struggling with and he prayed for me. I think this was significant because it was the first time I had told anyone outside of a very tight inner circle what I had been dealing with. I think there is victory in asking for help and trusting God and others with our weaknesses. He prayed and said some things that clicked with me. Right then and there the physical symptoms went away. I had a really good week. I went back for a second dose of prayer the next week. I just wanted to make sure. You can't have too much grace.
Since then I have been OK. That is not to say that the temptation isn't still there to go into that way of thinking. I have to work to keep my thoughts on the right track. I have to stay in the Word. I have to be in touch with God during the day. I work to keep the bad out, but it is working. I know what I have to look out for.
So what happened? How did a nice girl like me who loves and tries to serve God get in such a mess? I think I just let my guard down. I felt troubled by what was going on around me. Things were piling up and piling up and I wasn't drawing any closer to God for some extra help. I was allowing empty spaces in my heart and head and Satan was all too happy to fill that empty space. He filled it with fear and doubt and fear and, oh yeah, fear.
And you know what? I bet almost anyone I met anywhere never had a clue what was going on in my head. I have pride issues. I know I do. Forgive me, but I am a work in progress. The thought that anyone knew that I took medication to keep from going out of my mind was humiliating to me. I don't like to admit that I am weak at times and just need some help.
So I say all of this so you will know you are not alone. You are not the only one who has ever felt this way. Yes, you. I know you want us to think you have it all together and praise God if you do. But are you just pretending to have it all together because what would people think? Well, I'll tell you what I think. I think you are just like me. It may not be anxiety, but you have issues! You love God, but you are human and weak and need Him and others. I know that is true of me. And I'm not afraid to say it. OK, I'm a little afraid, but I am learning to deal with that.
Pride. The next frontier.