Well, alrighty, here we go! So glad you’re here! I know it’s been a wee bit of time since our last lil chat, but since you’re reading this, I take it that you have found it in your heart to forgive me for my extreme lack of written expression. So without further ado, let us begin.
In my last blog post I brought up the ugly truth about the anxiety and panic attacks that had plagued me for over 15 years. There are so many contributing factors for the prolonged battle with anxiety but today I would like to share a little bit of my process in the past 11 months. The process of me walking out the freedom I knew I had, but my mind was so riddled with lies for so long, that I knew I had some unlearning to do. My mind needed to be renewed and filled with truth that I was desparately seeking.
You see, in the months leading up to the beginning of this year, I thought it was normal to think about all the ways that I could potentially die doing regular daily tasks. I had grown accustom to the fact that I had to self talk myself out of bed, every single day, for well over a year. I had to consistently convince myself that I wasnt going to have a panic attack while attempting to take a shower. It was a regular process for me to have multiple panic attacks while at work. How I worked during those darkest anxiety and depression days still blows my mind. I KNOW it was ONLY through the grace and strength of God. I guarantee you most people never even knew I was going through daily hell. Anxiety, panic and depression is a silent enemy. It isn’t seen like a broken leg or something that requires a surgery to fix, so many don’t see or understand the shame and pain that it carries. If I told you of all the horrid details it would be almost unbelievable. Take for instance one time last year I had a panic attack so bad that I literally had to call a friend to talk me out of my car and into my apartment. I would step out of my car, a whirlwind of dizziness took over me so I would turn right back around, open my car door and shut myself inside. I did this about 4-5 more times and After about 30 minutes And my friend constantly talking to me, I finally got out and made a mad dash to my apartment door and let myself in. It took me over an hour to calm myself down and get my heart to stop racing.
Needless to say I did NOTHING for about 8 months last year. I forced myself to get up and go to work. I would get to work and counted down the seconds before I could leave so I could hurry home to rest from the constant anxiety I was in all day. I could barely make it to the bathroom or the kitchen area at work to heat up my lunch without having a panic attack. My legs were so weak at this point, and felt like jello jigglers, I feared even standing!!! My body was pulsating all day. I would have the sweats at least 4-5 times a day and was constantly hot. There is so much more that happened but I will spare you the details. All I know is that I would not wish any of these things on my worst enemy!!!!
Ok, although I wanted you to get a teeny tiny bit of understanding, enough about all that icky stuff, I want to tell you about the past 11 month process. I want to share why I am sitting here today with tears streaming down my face as I write this. It was about 11 months ago, after months of isolation, that I made the choice to try and become a part of a college and career group at church that meets on Wednesday nights. I did not want to go at all. The only reason I went is because the leader of the group said to me, “if you want more hugs, you need to put yourself in a place to receive them!” So that is what I was determined to do come hell or high water!!! That first night I had so much anxiety and couldn’t even stand up during the time of worship and singing. About 10 times I wanted to run out of there so fast and go back home where I felt secure isolated from everyone. I pushed through that first night and many nights there after. I am sooooo thankful I decided to push through because it is the friendships, the love and understanding of the new friends I was making that helped propel me out of the darkest of nights.
I am sitting here in awe as I look back at where I have been and where God has brought me to today though framily (friends + family ….yes one of my famous smushed up words!). I got to do things I love and enjoy for the first time in a long time! This summer I got to go on a camping trip with our church and slept in an unfamiliar place without anxiety! I got to walk the beaches and play volley ball and hold babies all without anxiety or panic!! I got to sing the national anthem at a minor league baseball game with no anxiety!! Singing the national Anthem was such an honor!!! I was able to go walking again at my favorite local park, which I had to forgo for over a year due to my weak and pulsating legs. I’ve been able to sing again on the music team at church (although it has been a process as well, I have had a VERY encouraging worship pastor (aka brother/mentor) that pushed me when he knew I could do it, even if I felt like crap!) I finally got up enough guts to go swing dancing for the first time in August and haven’t stopped since!! A new friend I just met had asked me back in February to go but little did he know the things I was still working on so it couldn’t be a reality for me to even try it at that time. My heart wanted to go so much, but I knew my body and mind were not ready. I even almost backed out that night in August and drove off but I am soooo glad I got some courage to walk into a new place alone and have so much fun!! Dancing has provided me with anoher form of confidence that I didn’t know I needed. It has also helped me mentally to let go of things that really don’t matter and just be engaged in the moment. To slow down and have a conversation without words. Yeah, I could go on and on about the different reasons I have grown so fond of dancing but I’ll save that for another time. I so love being part, even in some small way, of this dance community. The friends that I have made, and yet to make, make this girl smile!
So you see, this Thanksgiving and holiday season I have a little bit more to be thankful for. So if you see me getting overly excited about seeing twinkle lights or getting to walk aimlessly through lighted streets, you’ll know why! I am getting to enjoy life again one moment at a time. I am getting to enjoy others and be there for them more! I get to give and be in the moment with dear friends! I get to invest and help others that are hurting or need a listening ear. I get to say, ‘yes’ to things again! I am giddy about this Holiday season for more reasons than one, but most of all my heart is FULL til overflowing with THANKS to God and each and every person that has been a part of this long trying journey! These are friends that have opened their hearts and often their homes to extend a hug, love, compassion and understanding. Thank you just doesn’t seem to cut it with the depth of gratitude I feel for each of you. My sweet Framily, you know who you are and I love you oodles!! Xoxo
What are you thankful for today? I’d love to hear what God has done or what others have done to help you when you needed it most. Maybe you’re feeling alone and full of shame as I often did and have isolated yourself. I’m praying for you to know your value and worth. I am praying that you will have the courage to get into community with others that you trust and can encourage you. Take it from me, isolation brings more pain. You can do this, I believe in you!
So, my lovely friends, slow down this season and enjoy the little things. Savor the moment you are in. Give the gift of “presence” to whomever you’re with. Tell someone, “thank you” in a special way that would mean something to them.
In everything, and in all situations, always find something to be thankful for.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!
A thankful heart. Xoxo