Instead of feeling confident, I was in a constant state of anxiety. Instead of being independent, I felt like I was falling apart. Instead of being happy, I was continually on the verge of tears for no known reason. Instead of feeling secure, I was overwhelmed by fear. When I started waking up in the middle of the night in an utter state of panic, gasping for breath while I sobbed uncontrollably and barely able to get out the words, "GOD...HELP ME!" I knew something had to change.
What in the world happened? What was going on? And most importantly - how could I fix it?
In early December 2014, a few days after my 33rd birthday, I finally went to the doctor to make sure that I wasn't dying (as my brain told me that I was), and after being informed that some of the symptoms I had shared were actually related to my gallbladder (which was removed the next month), she looked at me and said, "You're having panic attacks." No, not me. I don't do that. Panic attacks only happen in the minds of people who don't trust God, and I obviously trust God totally because I'm following Him on this crazy journey of adopting a bunch of kids, right? Not quite. As it turns out, I had fallen much farther away from God than I realized, and the next few months would turn into some of the hardest - and BEST - journeys back to Him that I have ever experienced.
As I took in what my physician was saying, I heard her offer to write me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication and refer me to counseling. That was when my INTJ brain snapped into place (and one of the many times that I have been grateful for the personality that God gave me) as I glanced at the Hubs and then replied, "No, thank you. I just need to spend a whole lot more time with Jesus." I could see the skepticism on her face, but she accepted my response and assured me that if I changed my mind, she would be happy to provide one or both of her previous offers.
Over the next few weeks, I'd like to share that process with you in the hopes that it may be an encouragement to anyone who may have dealt with similar issues, or may be going through a difficult time right now. This is my story - the one God wrote for me and took me through - and it will be different than yours, so I ask for grace as I share it with you over time.
Of Note: If you are in counseling or taking medicine to help you get through this time, please don't tune out now because you think I'm going to judge people for that. I'm not - I simply want to share my story, and how God allowed me to go through this valley so that I could learn to totally rest in Him. Let me be CLEAR: God uses any number of things to lead us back to Him - so I am definitely NOT saying you should try to be a lone reed here. Please hold your comments on this aspect until I have had time to share the whole story. Thank you for respecting this.
Re your note about counseling: By the same token, I wish you hadn't rejected counseling without truly considering it. :) One of the huge benefits I see in counseling for my daughter is the very practical advice she gets, along with practical advice about accomplishing things. A simple example: an understanding of how much sleep she needs, and why she needs it, how it helps her. Then, practical advice on how to get the sleep she needs, simple things like no blue screens x amount of time before bed, sleepy time tea. For anxiety attacks, the 5-4-3-2-1 method (look it up, it's very useful). None of these things take her away from Jesus or force her to rely on Jesus less. I have personally fought my way through times of depression where I thought that I would have to be hospitalized, and yes, I did it without counseling and with prayer. But looking back, some of the things I finally figured out that help me (physical things, like get plenty of sunshine and exercise), probably would have been offered to me by a good counselor and saved me time and pain in getting to a good place. You will probably read this and think I am some huge proponent of counseling, and I'm not. I just was bothered by your immediate rejection of even considering it. I was exactly like that. I too, never really considered it, but now I wonder if it would have shortened the time of my extreme depression had I tried it. And here's the thing, I'm sure all of us KNOW to do the things I mentioned above, but when you are really struggling, it's just very hard to remember them and put them into practice. Counseling for my daughter is helping her focus on one improvement at a time, and that's so much less overwhelming than trying to put everything you know into practice when you are in a hard place.ReplyDelete
In summary, I was just like you - would not consider counseling. I too, worked through my issues without counseling and by God's grace. However, now I wonder if I made the best choice. My family would have really benefited from a shortened process, and I would have too. At least one of my daughters felt like she lost me, and that lasted for well over a year. I would LOVE that time back.
Sheila - I appreciate your comments, and I'm sorry that I unintentionally hit a nerve or wasn't clear enough, but that's why I specifically said that this was MY story, not that of anyone else. :)Delete
Let me be VERY CLEAR: I was NOT saying that counseling is without merit. In fact, I haven't even started the story yet - just gave background today. This exact response is why I have hesitated to share this phase of my life. My hope is that people will hold these types of comments until they have the opportunity to read the entire story and see what God did in my life and what He used to help me. I hope you'll come back next time so you can be encouraged by what God has done. :)
I feel like the blog post you just posted (2/14) is because of my comment. I’m sad you felt the need to do that. Im unsubscribing so I don’t offend or trigger a need to do that again. Best wishes in your life.Delete
Sheila - I am very sorry to see you go. In some ways you are correct - my post on 2/13 was brought about because of your original comment, however, I felt it was necessary to write it because I wanted to make it clear (clearer than I had in this post) that I was not trying to tell people what their decisions should be, and I was not judging them for whatever God led them to do. I wanted to make sure that all felt welcome, and that I didn't discourage anyone from seeking outside help. So while, yes, I did write it because of your comment, I was grateful you responded because I definitely did NOT want to give off the wrong impression that I was against counseling or anything else God might use, and I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify that before we went further. Apparently I failed in that again, and so I do apologize if I in any way offended you, and I wish you all the best. ~ CarrieDelete
Carie, I LOVE this post! As a fellow INTJ, I completely understand the response that you just needed to know the solution.ReplyDelete
My story is different. I didn’t think i struggled with fear or worry or anything and I’ve always been confident. But I too ended up in the doctor wanting to rule out some for sure rare disease because I was in constant full body pain and debilitating headaches. Answer: anxiety. Who knew. I had solid reason with all the extreme realities of my life at the time, but i just assumed it was stress. At any rate, I’ve been on medication for almost 2 years now and it allows me to breathe again and not be in pain. I one hundred percent thank God for the ability to have these meds and for insurance that makes it possible for me to afford them. So grateful God gives us all unique stories! Shows how personsl He is!
Thanks, Karin! That's exactly what I'm hoping that people will take from this - encouragement that they are not alone, and understanding that God works with each of us in ways that are as unique as we are! :)Delete