I spent so much of life worrying. Where did it come from? Did I inherit it? Is it contagious? Is it hereditary? BINGO…that’s it! It is hereditary. (Lets call it a ‘learned behavior’) My mom, as long as I can remember, worried all the time. What if this, and what if that, you might catch cold, don’t miss the bus, etc…so much so, that I believe my first panic attack actually happened in second grade.
Feels like it was yesterday…we were in Ms. Good’s second grade class, and there he was…Tim P was a bad boy! Me? I was ‘the perfect student’ in every way! I turned in all my assignments, was always the first one done in class, always on time, straight A’s…I was a teacher’s dream student. Tim was the nightmare student! I will never forget that day when she assigned me to go move my desk next to Tim to see if any of my good habits would ‘rub off’ on him. They didn’t! And that is when my first panic attack arrived!
Sitting in class, the bell rang to leave school and board the bus for home…and there we sat, at our desks, not being able to move until all the papers were picked up off the floor around us. They weren’t my papers. They were Tim’s papers and I was not allowed to pick them up…Tim had to. And he seen panic in my face. That made him happy. (You ever hear the saying, ‘hurting people, hurt people’? Well I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was a hurting people.) My mother always said…”don’t miss the bus”…well i was about to “miss the bus”! What did that mean? How would I get home? My mom didn’t drive! My dad was at work! Would my neighbor come get me? would I have to stay here with Tim? Aghhhh….panic sets in and my heart starts racing like Secretariat! I guess crying was my next choice…so that I did. And I was very good at crying…I was the baby in a family of six siblings! The teacher gave in. I made the bus. And everyone in the school heard about how I cried that day. And Tim? Well he took full advantage of that situation…and the rest of that school year was a nightmare!
I make light of the story in a way…but is was so real. It was 46 years ago and I remember every detail! That tells you that anxiety is nothing to take lightly.
As my life continued I had a few panic attacks in high school when asked to speak in front of people. Somehow, I managed to get through them and managed to stay quiet and sit in the back of the class, hoping to never have to talk. (SIDENOTE: I now have spoken in front of thousands of people with no fear; and the fear of missing the bus plagued me all through school and never once did I ever miss the bus!)
I experienced panic attacks off and on throughout my life, mostly due to some traumatic experiences. As I started to make different choices later in my life they started to decrease. I was on my way to recovery…when out of nowhere they were back!
We were out of town visiting family, in the middle of Walmart, and out of nowhere…panic set in. My heart started racing, my pulse skyrocketed, my blood pressure was extremely elevated (we ran to the blood pressure machine in the pharmacy area…210/170) Certainly, I was experiencing a stroke or heart attack and to the emergency room I went! Only to find out after three hours of waiting, I suffered a panic attack and indigestion! I have no idea why. We were having a great time visiting family…no clue…it just hit!
After returning home we visited the doctor. He prescribed depression medication, along with anxiety meds and bp meds and acid reflux meds. I said to myself, “I was perfectly fine four days ago. Now, I have all these medications. What is wrong with me. Am I dying?” Again…panic sets in…I don’t want to die. I am too young to die. I want to see my family grow. I want to hang out with my grandchildren. Travel. GOD…why are you letting this happen? EEERRRRRRRKKKKKKK….God?
WORRY IS TEMPORARY ATHEISM. I wasn’t believing that God could help me at all. I was letting the devil rob me of my life! I let him into my mind and feed me full of lies. He convinced me that the best part of my day was to stay asleep…because nothing can hurt me when I’m sleeping. He had me thinking that every time I felt a twitch I was going to start having chest pains, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, tingling…a sure sign I was having a heart attack! I needed GOD to help me…not medications! And that is when everything changed.
Not all wounds are visible and anxiety and panic attacks are definitely a wound. They cast a fight or flight sense in you and you have to be prepared to have a panic attack and let your mind run wild, or fight back! I chose to fight back.
There are five steps to help you to get through a panic attack:
1) It is TEMPORARY! Remember this too shall pass
2) MOVE AROUND! Get up and move around, change seats, walk, go to the bathroom.
3) TALK! I chose to talk with GOD…yep right there in the bathroom stall…don’t laugh it works! He can remove those demonic thoughts from you as if they were a booger!
4) BREATH! Especially at night. Count your breaths. Close your eyes and breathe deep until you have control over your body again.
5) FEEL STRONG!
Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares about you ~ 1 Peter 5:7
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me ~ Phillipians 4:13
I never did take any of the anxiety/depression medications.* I guess in my mind knowing I had them ‘just in case’ was enough. Praying and sharing with God about my anxieties worked for me. He helped me fight off those demons trying to tear up my insides. But my God is so much bigger than they are. I rise each morning now knowing that the devil is shaking in his shoes somewhere saying “Oh no, she’s up!” *(If your doctor prescribes meds, take them. I chose to use God for my true physician. He and I together conquered this illness!)
Please remember, there is not enough room in your mind for worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there. Choose FAITH. God will never fail you! I know he saved me from a life of fear and anxiety.
From worry and anxiety to FAITH and PEACE! Praise God!
Because of HIM
PS ~ A Big thank you to my wonderful hubby Roy for helping me through many of these attacks as well. As we began to study Anxiety, he and I discovered the seriousness of this mental illness. (I strongly encourage you to study this illness with your family so they understand this illness and the effects it has on families) His strength in God pushed my strength in Him to a new level! Because of Roy, my faith has quadrupled…and because of that he is also my hero! If you want to see for yourself what a great guy he is, check out his blogs at http://www.royhatcherleadership.wordpress.com! Love you honey!