When anxiety attacks
Anxiety is real.
It can take over your life. It can make you feel like you’re losing it. The pain, the brain fog, the pressure, insecurity, the unease, the emotions, racing heart, dizziness, and the other countless symptoms throw your body and mind out of whack. I can honestly say that I felt all of the above and I have not felt good about it. I do understand it is the season in my life that God is trying to prepare me for something and I feel that the something is great. But if you had asked me last month why I was experiencing one of the toughest seasons in my life, I would’ve said because I believe God is punishing me. Now, I am more well-informed and I know in my heart of hearts that this is far from the truth.
This new season of my life was thrust on me on January 6th. Approximately around 11 pm , I woke up from my nap on the couch (I fell asleep an hour or so earlier because watching movies on a couch at night with my husband screams "go to sleep"). I was suddenly awakened with a racing heart and my left arm went numb. I knew that everything that I have ever read about these symptoms pointed to a heart attack. "Indeed, I am dying right now and I need to get to the hospital!!!" I told my husband about my feelings and his failed efforts to calm my down, lead to me walking out the front door with keys in hand to drive me and my heart attack to the hospital. I wasn't frantic but I wasn't feeling complete serenity either.
When I arrived at the hospital, I checked in and told them my symptoms. They seemed to move in slow motion as I told them I think I was having a heart attack. There was no need for anyone to tell me to calm down. I was calm but shaking, shivering and worried. They wheeled me back to the Cardiac Unit and ran tests. Blood pressure...draw blood...chest x-ray...more blood...blood pressure check...repeat. I laid there for an hour or so before I saw the doctor. She came and asked me about my symptoms and asked me if I felt anxious. I looked at her with confusion. "Did you just ask me if I felt anxious about having a heart attack? Yes! I am quite anxious considering the circumstances." She advised me to take an anti-anxiety pill that she had for me while I waited for the blood test results. I obeyed and fell asleep shortly after taking the pill not knowing that the doctor had already come to the conclusion that I was having a panic attack. I felt tricked but relieved to know that I wasn't dying. But what about this anxiety? What was I supposed to do with this diagnosis?
In the days to come, I would break down at work and have emotional fits at home. I've never cried this much in my life. I felt off-centered. I had this overwhelming sense of doom that clouded my life. I was sad and panicky all at the same time. Following up with my doctor meant taking the prescribed medication, taking a leave from work and getting a stress test done to make sure I didn't have any blockages in my heart. I had so much blood work done, many other tests on other vital organs and added therapy to the mix. I made drastic dietary changes. I became a vegan. All of this happened within 7 days of my diagnosis. I was forever changed.
My six week sabbatical from work was filled with more tears but it pushed me to my knees. I sought God like never before and he was speaking loud and clear. I prayed for hours on end. I had on my spiritual sackcloth and I refused to let go of God like Jacob until he made this feeling of anxiety and despair disappear. God was gracious and carried me through this season. I relied on his word to pull me through each day. Sometimes, I wasn't too sure that I would make it out on this side of heaven. But, I lived to tell this story.
1 Peter 5:6-10
2 Timothy 1:7
I recited these daily. Out loud. I knew that in order for me to overcome anxiety, I had to drown my fear in the word of God. I did just that. I enlisted the support and prayers of family, friends and my community church group. I knew that I could not fight this battle alone. I needed their help. They came through in a major way.
Taking charge of my well-being became a priority and that meant that I was going to have to turn down the plate. I understood that I needed to reset my body. This meant eating whole fruits and vegetables for me. I began to juice celery daily and I still do this. Celery juice balances me out and those weird feelings that I was having subside after a glass of this healing elixir. I started to use essential oils more regularly. Lavender, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, Orange and Bergamont oils have helped me tremendously. I do yoga and meditate everyday.
Once a week, I see my therapist. She keeps me fine tuned. If you have never tried therapy, you need to! There is nothing more healing than having someone to talk to that will reason with your own thoughts and give you another vantage point to consider. Besides, most insurances cover it and if nothing more, take advantage of this service. It's truly life changing. I also journal my thoughts and feelings down. This has been very helpful for me. I have a friend who wrote a couple journals that I use and they are great thinking spaces. I have included a link to her journals if you want to support her and learn how to heal through writing.
Before this anxious season in my life, I would just run my life and time into the ground. I worked and worked and worked without very little breaks or time for rest. I felt in my heart that I didn't deserve a break because my life didn't look the way I had envisioned for it to be. My days and weekends were jammed packed doing "stuff." And if I wasn't actually doing "stuff," I was thinking about doing "stuff." It was pure insanity. After a long day at work, teaching other people's kids, I would come home and jump right into my home duties and nightly routine. Little did I know, that routine was killing me. So, I had to ditch it. Now, when I get home, I actually take 20-30 minutes to reset and refresh. It has helped tremendously.
If you've ever struggled with anxiety, you may be able to identify with me. Maybe you have had a hard time recently and life seems to be falling apart under you. Remember, you are never alone. I still have anxious thoughts. I still have anxious feelings. I still fall off the peaceful wagon and revisit "Panic Town." I lose it every now and again but I have learned to manage it. I don't stay down long. In those moments of struggle, I remind myself that I don't have to stay there. I replace anxious thoughts with God's word. When you are struggling with anxious thoughts and behaviors, remember to pray.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be the Light & Spread Love,
Atiya Chase Writes
Here's the link for journals that I use as a part of my healing process.