Category Archives: Anxiety

Be Anxious for Nothing…

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6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7-Source:  Bible Gateway

“Be anxious for nothing…” A four-word phrase, but probably one of the most pregnant-with-meaning phrases in the New Testament if not the whole Bible.

All my life I have struggled with anxiety.  Some of it is by heredity.  I have many extended family members who are on anxiety meds, so I don’t discount DNA factors at all.  It plays a part in some types of anxiety; however, I also believe that DNA doesn’t have to dictate one’s destiny.  I think a big factor in spiritual/emotional/mental health is how we deal with the things that are handed down to us genetically, by nurture, as well as our by our own God-given personality traits.

In my public life I’ve been able to play it cool most of the time.  You would never know this is a struggle within me.  My anxiety publicly usually is masked by  perkiness, talking, and high energy..  Some of what I term anxiety is actually excitement, but even my excitement can be tinged with an anxious undertone.  Those of you who deal with anxiety will understand that feeling.  To function well in everyday life I’ve learned to channel my anxiety/excitement in productive ways (that’s actually a good thing!).

But so-called good anxiety aside I still, at times, deal with the yucky, Calgon-take-me-away type of anxiety.  In fact, for years, it colored almost everything I did.  Even the excitement anxiety would spiral into anxiety attacks at times.  Example:  Being excited about taking a vacation (a good thing) but ahead of it becoming so overwhelmed by everything I needed to do to prepare for the vacation I would loose sleep, worry (especially about my pets I was getting ready to leave) that by the time the day came to leave for said vacation I would be an anxious moody mess and take it out on my significant other(s).  It would usually take  2-3 days once reaching my vacation destination to relax…that is if I ever did relax!

This is something I’ve taken great pains to work on in the last few years.  I’ve not done it alone.  I’ve had the wonderful support of counselors and friends who have held my hand as I’ve walked this journey to whom I’m very grateful.  Primarily, I’ve relied on God’s help.

What I’ve learned through Biblical counseling is that we do have to lean on God heavily to deal with things like anxiety, but how on earth do we “Be anxious for nothing?”  If you stop at the “Be anxious for nothing” phrase and don’t read the context of what follows in verses 6 and 7 it would seem like an impossible task.  What follows that phrase are the keys to carrying out that seemingly impossible task:

” …but in everything by prayer and supplication…”   Let’s get very literal about the phrase “Be anxious for nothing” God tells us to not BE anxious, but that doesn’t imply that we will never feel anxious.  God gave us the ability to feel anxious.  When real dangers come anxiety is a good thing.  It triggers our fight or flight response via our adrenal glands.  So, we will feel anxious at times appropriately.  The problem with us who have chronic anxiety issues is that somewhere along the way our bodies either by DNA, but mostly by our thoughts, learned to perceive so many things in our daily lives as threats that were actually not true threats…at least not the fight or flight type of threats. We actually thought ourselves into being anxious.  There is a big difference in feeling and being.  As long as we’re on this fallen earth we at times are going to feel anxious.  The main principle of not letting feeling become being follows that initial four-word phrase, “…but in everything by prayer and supplication…”  When we feel anxious we’re supposed to immediately take those feelings to God.  The instruction doesn’t change whether it’s a real threat or just a perceived threat.  We immediately take it God.  Now, if a speeding bus is barreling towards you, get out of the way first, of course, but when it’s our feelings we cry out to God either internally or externally.  I’ll be the first to admit when feelings of anxiety hit it’s become habitual for me to immediately whisper or even shout “Lord, help me!”  I try not to do it in social settings, but I find actually speaking that simple plea out loud when those anxious feelings hit can actually do wonders.  Do the feelings immediately go away?  Sometimes yes, but oftentimes no, but when prayer is my go-to reaction to anxiety the anxiety at least reduces, because I’ve just told “Daddy” to handle it.  It’s a release.  It’s not always appropriate for me to stop and go into a long prayer, and really, a long prayer is not always necessary.  A simple “help!” is all that is needed even if it’s spoken inwardly from your soul.

But there are times when “supplication” is needed…when you really get nitty-gritty with God about a situation that is threatening to usurp your peace, or has usurped your peace to the point you are being anxious.  That’s when you go to God, and say, “God, I’ve moved from feeling anxious to being anxious, and that’s what Your Word tells me not to do.  [This situation] is really disrupting my peace, and I need Your help in not only fighting my battle(s) in this situation, but I need to lean on You to give me peace…”

“with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…”   This goes along with prayer and supplication.  Tell him what you would like to see happen.  Many of us have become disheartened that God hasn’t given us what we’ve asked for (e.g.babies), but God always answers our prayers even when at times our prayers haven not been answered in the way we hoped.  I’m to the point in my journey that I’m beginning to see why God didn’t always give me the exact desires of my heart.  In some ways I will not understand until I stand before Him after I leave this earth, but as the big picture unfolds over time there are ah-ha moments.  I’ve had several in the last few years to the point that I can honestly say, “I am GLAD You didn’t answer in the way I asked.”  Still, God tells us to ask, and like a good father (and He is a good father) He will decide if what we are asking for is in our best interest or not, and he ALWAYS has our best interest at heart.  That’s the most comforting thing about complete trust in God’s ways.  He will never give us anything that is not in alignment with His divine will for us.  And so when we don’t get something…even if we feel disappointed for a while…thank Him for His ways are higher than ours.  That’s why I think this part of the verse is prefaced “with thanksgving” because we should already be thankful for what God is going to do with the request before we even make the request.  It’s already ALL GOOD!

“…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   And there you go…the full circle of how to not be anxious.  Once we’ve done what we are to do…prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and requesting…God promises to give us the peace that passes all understanding, and He will guard your and mind through Christ Jesus.  Done.   

So, you see, it’s a process.  If you are waiting for the day that you won’t feel anxious you’ll go through life feeling like you’re failing at this anxiety thing everyday.  When you have that feeling that threatens or…and let’s face it, we’re sinful humans… we dissolve into being anxious we need to focus on minds on Philippians 4: 6-7 which is God’s remedy for being anxious.  The more we learn to catch our anxiety at the feeling stage, and use God’s process, the less we’ll find ourselves being anxious.

And I’m alive today because of of these verses…

 

 

 

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Dichotomy is Thy Name

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I’m so back and forth in how I feel about my childlessness these days.  My moods swing like a pendulum at times.  Last weekend, out of the blue, I had one of my off-the-charts anxiety attacks about it.  I don’t know where it came from.  I had a lovely Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, but Saturday evening it hit me like a train.  I guess I started thinking about how much my life doesn’t seem to change from year to year, and with a whole new year stretching out in front of me it all feels so overwhelming.  I woke up Sunday morning with the wet blanket of depression on me.  It literally felt like I was carrying something heavy on my shoulders.  I didn’t go to church, and I cried on hubby’s shoulder for a couple of hours.  He was frustrated with me, because he doesn’t want/doesn’t know how to be my counselor.   I get over it pretty quickly, although I do carry around a low-level malaise most of the time.  Maybe that’s normal maybe it’s not, but I function well most days and have many good to down-right great days.  I think the low-level malaise is something you obtain after any great loss.  It’s always going to be lurking deep, down inside no matter how much you heal, and will rise to the surface if the conditions are just right.

I’ve been working on the anxiety (with related depression)  in the past few years, and I can say that it’s definitely more under control than it was two years ago, but I do have the occasional no good, rotten, very bad day.  Oddly, the bad days usually come during weekends and holidays when I have more down time and more time to think.  I’m a chronic over-thinker/analyzer, and believe me, there are days I envy the ditzy people of the universe.  Oh, to just turn my brain off would be bliss!

Fast forward to mid-week…I’ve been hearing of a lot of folks my age dealing with rebellious teenagers and prodigal adult children, and I think, “Whew!  I’m glad I’ll never have to deal with that!”  I even voiced this aloud yesterday at lunch with my coworkers.  They were talking about planning, applying, and paying for college and just listening to everything they have to do just wore me out.  When I told them that it’s things like this that makes me grateful I don’t have kids it led to a very open and honest discussion about kids vs. no kids.  I said, “Well, you’re going through these headaches now, but at least you’ll have someone to take of you in your old age.”  They said, “Oh, you can’t even count on that” which is true.  I knew it was a bad statement the minute  it left my mouth, but I was trying to comfort them in an awkward way.  Anyway, it was great, thoughtful conversation, and I think they understood my side somewhat.

So to sum it up…last weekend I’m in the throes of depression about my childlessness and at the end of this week I’m almost relieved to be childless.

Welcome to my life…

 

 

Accentuate the Positive…

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Anxiety has been rearing it’s ugly head.  It started over Christmas vacation.  This  vacation turned out not to be the best, although it had it’s enjoyable moments.  There was more drama to top off the baseline family drama, and thanks to a Christmas Day snowstorm our mobility was severely limited.  Don’t get me wrong a White Christmas should’ve been wonderful, but it was a anxiety producing since we were away from home and had two different family Christmas get-togethers to attend. For those of you in colder climates when it snows in the Southern U.S.  it pretty much shuts everything down.  If it happens on a holiday, well, you’re pretty much staying right where you are.

Also, as I eluded to in my last post I unintentionally left my hormone meds at home.  Coupled with the circumstances it was a recipe for the perfect anxiety storm, and I’m still feeling the effects almost two weeks later.

So, Sunday night when my anxiety peaked I picked up my go-to book whenever anxiety snares me in its clutches.   Sometimes I just need to remind myself that root of my anxiety is the way I think not my circumstances.   A lot of Christians tend to blame “the devil” every time they feel anxiety, but honestly, a lot of anxiety comes from the way we think and how we talk to ourselves via our internal dialogue.  Honestly, sometimes we do the devil’s work for him so well all he has to do is sit back and eat bon-bons and read Sports Illustrated.  I firmly believe we are our own worst enemies sometimes.  I know I am mine.  I’ve  mastered the art of negative thinking to the point that I can quickly descend into catastrophic thinking.  I’m just that efficient at it.

So now that I am slowly getting my hormones back into check I am able to see the forest for the trees.  I know that hormonal imbalance fuels the negative thinking train, but the throttle is  in my hands.  I just have to remember to catch those little negative thoughts before they spiral in to big catastrophic thoughts.

It’s not easy.  It takes a lot of effort, and you really have to make a concerted effort to change.  I do take comfort in knowing that I am better than I was this time last year, and in 2010 I learned how to self-soothe and deal with things a little better even though I have my moments of epic fail.

One of the things I’m trying to do to foster more positive thinking is to try and eliminate the sources of negative energy in my life.  #1 I am cutting way back on the news.  Oh my word…do you want to become depressed/anxious in 2.5 seconds?  Turn on any news station, and that will do the trick.  It seems the media feels its job is to keep everyone in panic mode 24/7.   It would comical if it weren’t so sad.  So, the news…especially via television…is out for me.  I stick to my Google reader where I can scan headlines just to know what is going on, but that’s it.

I’m also “hiding” friends on Facebook who are constant complainers.   I’m not judging anyone, because I have descended in FB complaining mode at times myself, but I’m talking about people who are outraged or depressed 24/7 and want to drag everyone down with them.  We’re all human.  We all have bad days, bad neighbors, cranky bosses, difficult spouses etc., but people who machine-gun post their multiple lamentations numerous times a day are toxic to me right now.  We can still be friends, but I’m dealing with my own negative thoughts, and adding others only adds fuel to the fire.  I’m cutting back on my social networking altogether…it just feels like the positive thing to do right now.

So, like the old 1940s song I’m going to “Accentuate the positive.  Eliminate the Negative.”

Not Your Typical New Year’s Day Blog Post

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It’s New Year’s Day, and while everyone is posting blog posts about what they accomplished in 2010 or what they hope to accomplish in 2011 I’m kind of like,

“Meh, who cares?”

I used to be a resolutions type of person.  I’ve always believed in goals, and quite honestly should find some again, but right now I’m hyped on sinus medication, and thinking about goals just makes me want to….

SQUIRREL!!!!!!

Sorry…that’s just how I have felt the last few days.  I’ve come down with some sort of cold or sinus malady (I think I have my husband to thank for this), and it’s seriously put a damper on the remaining days of my Christmas vacation.  Couple that with an anxiety-filled trip to my hometown for “the holidays” that was filled with snowstorms, getting stuck on a hillside in our  SUV with bad tires, family drama, a trip to the ER for our youngest nephew, a trip home from rehab for our oldest nephew, and possibly becoming a great-aunt this week (the DNA tests are still out on that one) and you have a recipe for a very crazy me.

Oh…did I forget to mention the insomnia?

The whole vacation has just had a bizarre, surreal feel for me.  It sort of felt like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” all rolled into one.  You all (and my husband) will be happy to know that before I started writing this post I re-ordered a three-month continuous supply of my sanity medication a.k.a. “Prometrium.”  If you remember (or did I dream I wrote that post) I had to make a call to my GYN for an emergency supply until I could order a 3-month supply (on my previous prescription) starting in 2011.  Well, he did write me a prescription, but it was only for 10 DAYS!  Seriously, this guy did not read my chart to see that the physician I saw last year recommended a daily dose of Prometrium (my main physician was on sabbatical last year when I had my yearly).  I’m going to see my main physician in late January, and if he does not continue the daily Prometrium then he and I are going to have a serious word of prayer about the future of our relationship.

Anyway, the 10-day supply only got me through the 26th, but I didn’t even get the benefits of the last two days of it because I LEFT IT AT HOME like an idiot when packing for my trip.

So, needless to say, I’m an anxiety-filled basket case right now.  The sinus medication has only amplified that x 1,000.   My husband even reiterated his previous statements of my need for therapy yesterday, and he’s probably right, but the thought of trying to find a therapist makes me feel like crawling back into bed and curling into the fetal position…if I could ONLY SLEEP!

Well, anyway, I don’t have very many lofty goals for 2011 other than achieving psychological and hormonal balance.   That seems daunting enough at the moment.

I also wanted to write a blog post under the influence of sinus medication, so I’ve met my first goal of the year.  That’s something…..right?  RIGHT?!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Barely Holding On…

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The holidays were okay but ended in a crashing thud.  Right now, I don’t even know what to say but that I’m in the fight of my life, and it appears that I’m on the ropes.  I feel like I’m hopeless to do anything about the rapid deterioration going on at this moment in my life.  It’s like the problems have taken on a life of their own, and I’m powerless to stem the tide of their destruction.  I have been trying so hard to make everything better, but in the end all I seem to do is make things worse.  This journey has stolen so much from me…my love for life, my hope, my dreams, my sanity, and now maybe even the thing that has meant the most to me for so many years.

I’m crying out to Jesus, but He feels a million miles away.  Does He want this to happen?  Is this his will?  If it is then it goes against everything I was taught to believe about the sovereignty of my Lord.  I can’t resign to that…I can’t!

I can move past my disappointments, the failure of my body to do what it was supposedly intended to do, but I can’t move past what that failure has done to others…what it has affected on my marriage…especially my marriage…and in every other aspect of my life.

It is my proverbial thorn in the side, and right now it is burrowing in deeper than it ever has before.

The Hamster Wheel Experience

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Today I feel as if I’m on a hamster wheel.  I’m spinning and spinning and working and working and getting nowhere.  I’ve had a good week, really.  I’ve tried to stay away from all the negative things, but no matter how hard I try the negatives start throwing themselves in my face eventually.  I had a horrible weekend last week…a meltdown…the old, ugly weekend anxiety thing.  I have too much time to think on the weekends.  While keeping busy would be a great way to combat it  I cannot keep busy 24/7 and live for very long.

The things that are rearing their ugly heads are things that have plagued me for years.  I won’t go into detail, because they involve people I love.  I don’t like to air my dirty laundry to the public, because in this case it’s other people’s dirty laundry too, and that just wouldn’t be fair.

I want to live a happy, fulfilled life.  I want all my relationships to be peaceful and harmonious, but then reality sets in, and I start to wonder if I’m really going to survive it all.  It seems a few mistakes I made in my twenties are going to forever haunt me.  While it’s nice to say, “Leave your past in the past” sometimes your past won’t leave you.  It keeps banging on your door demanding that you pay your consequences.

I’m not one who gives up on responsibility, but when the other side does not make it fair and makes it impossible for you ever to be free from their chains I’m wondering if “giving up” is the only way out?

Again, I’m talking in code, but it’s necessary.

So, I sit here on the precipice of another pity party this weekend hoping that I don’t fall over the edge,  I’m fighting by being as logical as I can be.  It doesn’t matter if I have a pity party, a worry party, or a crying party.   It won’t change the reality that there are a couple of things in my life that really stink, and the possibility of them being anything but stinky for a long time (or forever) is not very high.

I also give it the Lord, and hope one day He will fix it all.  I’ll keep running on this hamster wheel, because right now, it’s the only thing I can do.   It’s not God’s fault that I am where I am today, but He’s my only hope.  Only with Him can I survive to keep fighting another day.   If it weren’t for Him I’d given up a long time ago.  He’s the only thing holding all of us together.

 

 

Redirection…

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Well, I’ve mostly recovered from my anxiety attack a couple of weeks ago.  I use the the term “recovered” because it’s like an alcoholic saying they’re cured of the booze.  They know deep down inside that because of their addictive personality  they’re just one bad day from being off the sobriety wagon.  It’s a day-to-day battle, and dealing with an anxiety disorder is much the same.

I’ve been working a lot in the last few weeks on redirection…meaning taking the nervous energy that anxiety creates and doing something productive with it instead of internalizing it which will only lead to a meltdown sooner or later.  It’s sort of like taking a hyperactive kid to the playground for a couple of hours after you’ve fed him too much sugar.  Get him out of the house before he destroys something (or many things) and let him expel his energy in way that will not harm himself or others.

Weekends are the worst for me, because unlike the other five days of my week they lack definitive structure.  Now, my husband, he seems to love the lack of structure of the weekends as most “normal” people do.  Well, me, if you remember the movie, Rain Man, and what happened to Raymond Babbitt when he was taken out of his life of structure… that is me on a lesser scale.   I just want my K-Mart underwear and to watch Judge Wapner everyday at five.  Is that too much to ask?

Well, life tends to stray away from structure and towards chaos no matter how hard we try to maintain structure.  So, Saturdays tend to hit me hard as that day in particular lends itself to a lack of structure.  Now, the Saturdays we are traveling and have definitive plans are the best, but the Saturdays which are kind of “whatever” days are days that I tend to feel the most anxiety.

We were supposed to travel this weekend, but our budget and a home improvement project we’ve been trying to complete since May and needs to be done before the holidays precluded travel.  We had a three-day weekend with plans to work at home, but that was not enough structure for me.   We were trying to get our stairs refinished and stained this weekend, but we only had one sander.   The sanding was proving to be more time consuming than originally planned, and so that left me with nothing to do on that project until the sanding was complete.  So, I have been left to fill two days with other things.

Now, there’s always plenty to do in a house with two people and five cats, but that’s another problem. I look at all that needs to be done in the house…while all the while everything is beginning to be covered in a layer of dust from all the sanding being done by my husband, and voila, anxiety attack!  I was feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Even though anxiety was mounting I got through Friday pretty well.  I just started redirecting that energy into one thing at a time telling myself, “Okay, I can do this.  I will focus on one thing at a time.”  That worked pretty well, and I got a lot of things done on Friday even with the added stress of taking the newest kitten…who has had runny diarrhea for a month…to the vet.

On Saturday there was still sanding to do which meant that I couldn’t start helping Eddie yet on the stair project.  Most likely the weekend would pass without staining even beginning.  We got up and decided to go out for breakfast.   Because we were, yet again, off schedule I wasn’t in a good mood.  The thought of being in the house again on such a gorgeous day was almost too much for me to handle.  I couldn’t even enjoy my breakfast.  That’s when I knew another Saturday anxiety attack was imminent.  When we pulled back into the driveway Eddie mentioned that the lawn needed to be mowed, and a lightbulb went off in my head.   I decided that I would do it and do some other end-of-season yard work that needed to be done.  That would get me out of the house into the Fall sunshine.  I worked four to five hours outside yesterday mowing, weed eating, fertilizing, and seeding.  To say the least that expelled some anxious energy!  We then had a date night last night which included dinner and movie.

Today’s Sunday and due to multiple mitigating factors we did not go to church today.  First of all, we stayed up too late last night, were both dog tired this morning from all our work the past two days, and Eddie got a call last night to clean the cat cages at PetSmart for the Humane Society this morning since no one else was available to do it.  This left Sunday as another no-structure day.  I quickly became cranky feeling like I needed to be super-productive again today, but fortunately,  I was able to bring that under control.

According to my faith and personal conviction Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, and I’m deciding to do that…rest.  Now, there are things that have to be done, and I’m doing them, but today I’m redirecting my anxious energy into blogging and relaxation.  Relaxation at home is the hardest for me, because I constantly see things that need to be done.

But I’m trying…trying really hard to let things go…trying to adopt the philosophy that the things that need to be done will be there tomorrow, and that if something is dirty or undone it’s not the end of the world and does not mean I’m not a good housekeeper.  It means that instead of focusing on things that are inconsequential I’m focusing on making my life much more peaceful.

Easier said than done, but I’m really trying…