My Journey Toward Anxiety Recovery
I am NOT a control freak. I am not, I am not, I am not.
Okay. Maybe I do like to have a little bit of control, but y'all, who doesn't want to have a little bit, right?
As an adult, I've never thought of myself as the person who needs to be in control of everything. In fact, I fancied myself is a pretty laid back and chill chick.
I don't like to look at the calendar and have a playdate or social event every day (or even every other day). I like lots of white space. I thought that meant I was pretty easy breezy. Unscheduled equals no need to control, right? Absolutely wrong.
Life was going along just great for a while, y'all. My unscheduledness could get a little too scheduled with Jeff's job and the kids growing up and each having activities to attend but I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me.
Three and a half years ago, we had Landry (our third child) and life suddenly felt VERY out of control, even though we were at home eighty percent of the time. I actually thought the solution was to be home ninety percent of the time. I knew I was introverted, but I became isolated... I wanted to isolate myself. It stressed me out too much to get out of the house to socialize and I definitely didn't want anyone to hang at our house because that meant I needed to control what was going on with Landry.
But surprise surprise, my need to control my little bits of white space got angrier and larger. (See that pattern of control?)
When Landry was almost three months old, I felt physically tense all the time. It started out small, feeling as I was shivering. At first, I thought I was getting the flu so I tried sitting on a heating pad and covering up with thick blankets, but that didn't help.
Then the shivering increased and became a part of my neck, shoulders and upper back. It felt like a ton of weight was being carried all of the time. Advil didn't help. Aleve didn't help. Even a massage didn't help.
I went to my GP doctor finally after a few months of this pain. He nodded his head with every symptom I described. Finally he said, "it sounds like you're suffering from chronic stress coupled with anxiety." What the heck does THAT mean?
Y'all, everyone's life is stressful. Everyone is dealing with their own crap, right? We all have spouses that travel, or jobs that create odd hours, or have kids that demand a lot of attention, or looming deadlines, declining parents and so on. I was certainly not the exception, and everyone else seemed to be dealing with stress just fine.
This seemed like a cop-out, okay? I was not having any of it, I wasn't going to accept it for what it was but instead just kept trying to fight it.
I started yoga and tried my best to get better sleep, but that was hard to come by with a husband who travelled and that newborn that I was still caring for.
The tension kept coming in waves and what made it WORSE was that I couldn't find a pattern. I'd feel fine for a few days and then for a week I'd have it constantly. It was awful, but I continued to try home remedies.
I tried magnesium powder to calm my brain.
I drank herbal tea every night.
I took a social media hiatus for over a month.
I went on vacation.
I started running for stress relief.
But it continued on. For two more years, y'all.
This couldn't be anxiety, because anxiety is being fearful of something bad happening, right? Anxiety is about needing to control everything and I certainly wasn't like that, right? I wasn't worried about my plans for the day or concerned that something wouldn't work out. It was like it wasn't in my mind, it was in my body - so it definitely wasn't anxiety. But whatever it was, I was done with it.
I decided to stop all of my home remedies that I found on webmd and go see an actual counselor in January. This has been the very best thing I've done in my adult life short of marrying my husband and having our sweet children.
She ALSO identified this tension as anxiety and stress, related to some past issues that are coming out "sideways". But no matter what is causing it - she gave me this suggestion that has literally changed my life :
ACKNOWLEDGE IT FOR WHAT IT IS.
I mean, y'all. If you are suffering with anxiety of any kind (even the stress kind that you don't think is anxiety) listen up. I am giving away $250 in therapy sessions today right here, right now by sharing this information. STOP TRYING TO FIGHT IT.
Like, right now, say to yourself "I am struggling with anxiety. It is here. It is real." Stop trying to figure out why you feel this way. This was the hardest dang thing for me and she pointed out that this only serves to make anxiety worse.
I know some of you are rolling your eyes and saying "but Jesus says to not be worried about anything" and YES, you are right. Is Jesus bigger than anxiety? Absolutely. But is anxiety real? Heck yeah, it is!
I am no doctor, and certainly no licensed counselor, but I have lived enough life to know that you can't take a vacation from anxiety. You can't slap a bandaid on it, recite a few verses and it'll just go away. Certainly, God could do that, but in my experience, He generally gives stuff like this to us so that we can learn from it. (Just go read James, y'all).
He also puts people in our lives to surround us, pray for us and encourage us and sometimes that is going to need to be a counselor or a doctor y'all. It just is.
So here is my advice to you. Acknowledge your anxiety for what it is. It comes in all shapes and sizes and seeing a doctor is the first step, followed shortly thereafter by a counselor. If there is need for medication, girl, take the medication! Don't wait two more years before you seek help!
Pray for God to intervene, ask everyone you know to pray for God to intervene and watch expectantly for Him to come through in ways you could never imagine.
Keep going, friend, and do everything you can to take care of yourself so that you can enjoy life to the fullest!