Anxiety…I see you.

We are all living busy lives, even in a Covid-19 world. Our children do not have a normal routine and are having to alternate school days (if they go at all). Our jobs are in a fluctuating state of working remote to being in the office for longer hours. Week to week we have to make the decision to attend church because of Covid-19 exposure, with many choosing to worship via streaming. And then there is the weather! I think you would all agree that finding “our norm” is very difficult.

Unfortunately, our bodies suffer from the day-to-day life that we have now created. For me, most know that I suffer from chronic, severe migraines. Saturday started my latest battle of trying to determine what was the best course of medication before going for the big guns. I felt some chest pressure and thought I had congestion and chalked it up to my sinuses. With the weather front moving in, I know many have been having the same issues I have.

Sunday morning it hit full blown. I was determined to not let it put me to bed for the rest of the day. Fortunately, after taking many different prescribed medications, my headache began to ease. In place of my migraine came anxiety. A full blown anxiety attack.

If you have ever experienced an anxiety attack, you will know exactly what I am about to tell you. Remember, panic attacks and anxiety attacks are different. Panic attacks will usually come and go within 10 to 30 minutes. Anxiety can last for days.

The elephant in the room had moved to sitting on my chest. My legs felt like they could run a mile with my feet never touching the ground. As the afternoon turned into evening, my hands started to feel numb. I knew exactly what was happening. My head kept trying to tell my body, you will be fine. Jay was reassuring that I would be fine. I told Jay, “My head knows everything you are saying, but my body does not!”

We have an oximeter at home, which if you do not have one, get one. It measures your pulse and heart rate. Every thirty minutes I would ask Jay for the oximeter. My rates were normal.

I took a bath thinking it would surely relax me. All it did was raise my heart rate and send me outside to the cold to attempt to bring my body temperature down. Trust me, during this entire time I was doing breathing exercises. Breathe in through your mouth, hold for 4 seconds, exhale slowly and repeat.

Jay kept asking me why I would not take the Xanax I have that is prescribed for this very thing! In my mind, Xanax would suppress my breathing and I was trying to explain to him that the cure for my anxiety would cause me MORE anxiety. Is it going to be this way every February? That was my thought.

What is my fear? Taking medications that slow my breathing because I am afraid to go to sleep. This started for me at age 18 after the loss of my father and when someone stole my identity to seek drugs. Once a pattern of anxiety comes into your life, it just does not go away. You have to learn to control it, daily.

About 7:30 p.m., Jay came to sit closely by me on the couch and hold my hand as we watched American Idol. After beginning to take my nighttime meds (that also doubles as a medication for anxiety), I slowly began to calm. But I knew bedtime was coming. Night. My biggest fear.

At 10:30 p.m. I went to bed praising the Lord for a calm spirit. As we do each night, Becky, Andrea (my best friends) and I were telling each other goodnight by text and Becky said, “Fear is a liar!” I immediately went to the song by Zach Williams – “Fear is a Liar”. I rebuked Satan and began to recite 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I slept.

Friends suffering with anxiety during these strange days, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. But so does our big God. I am not saying anxiety is gone, because today (Monday) it still lingers and I made it through the day with the help of Xanax. But I know when I go home I will be able to relax, nothing will happen to me, and I will sleep.

If you suffer from anxiety like I do, I hope you know you are not alone. Anxiety is real and it is SCARY. That heart attack you feel is coming on is controllable. The best thing (next to Xanax), is to make sure you have a support system in place during this time. I could not have made the night without my husband. Trust me. I was crying and telling him if the Xanax did not work, he was taking me to the hospital! And you know what he said? Okay.

Unfortunately, since I wrote this, my migraine returned on Tuesday. I immediately went to my pain doctor. Not only am I blessed with a wonderful husband, but I have a doctor who I have been with for over 30 years. Dr. Schnapp’s his first remark was, “Are you trying to kill yourself?” He said that the combination of all my medications caused a medication induced tachycardia event evidenced by the anxiety. I told him my oximeter said my heart was normal! He showed me how to record an EKG from my Apple Watch to my Iphone. Life changer. Advice – get an Apple Watch and use it if you have anxiety!

“Anxiety might be your superpower, not your kryptonite. Changing my perception of my anxiety has helped me see that it doesn’t diminish my value in my career or as a parent, and might even enhance it.”  Alice Boyes Ph.D Psychology Today

The reason for this blog is to say I am not ashamed I suffer from anxiety. I think I’ve been through quite enough in my lifetime to cause a little anxiety. I want YOU to know you are not alone. Anxiety is real. Even though you feel like you are on the edge of death, you are not. Remember to rest in the strength of His arms. “He is our comfort and strength, a very present help in time of trouble…though the mountains shake and the waters roar, we will not fear!” Ps. 46:1-3.

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ.” C. S. Lewis

4 thoughts on “Anxiety…I see you.

  1. Thank you for sharing, sweetheart. To my knowledge I’d never experienced anxiety attacks until about 2 years ago. I had hip surgery while my husband was out of town with his father dying in hospice and my daughter took care of me. Upon his father’s passing and return to work he was let go. About two months after that I had to quit my job at my cardiologist’s recommendation due to a change in ownership resulting in an extreme increase in workload and stress. We moved to another state to be near one of our children. That’s when the anxiety began; I didn’t know what it was. I questioned my faith. I struggled with fear and wondered if I was not trusting God. I studied the Bible and read books. Nothing helped. Within 5 months in the new location we were not able to secure employment and had to make another state to state move into an inherited home that had been a rental for 30 years and severely neglected for 10 years; it has been a complete top to bottom remodel taking everything down to studs and starting over, one room at a time…very stressful. About a year ago I was talking with one of our children whose spouse has anxiety. She said, “Mom, that sounds like anxiety to me…” Hmmm. I’d researched panic attacks and the symptoms didn’t fit. When she described what her husband goes through I realized that must be what this is. He takes a supplement, Sam-E, so I started taking it and it has helped a great deal. However, some days I still have a lot of anxiety. This has been such a new part of life for me and it took me by surprise. I don’t know anyone else (with exception to my son in law) who experiences this. I avoid prescription medication because both of my parents went that road; with each new medication they developed another symptom so another medication was prescribed which cause another symptom, and so on and so forth; my Mother was taking 18 medications when she passed away at age 62. After my Father’s passing (I was his POA and executrix of his estate) and the poor/abusive behavior of one of my siblings I was having a breakdown and couldn’t stop crying so I went to the doctor. He knew my Father and my sibling and said, frankly, “You have been through a whole lot. You might need to take something for awhile, not permanently, to help get your brain chemistry back on track. He started me on an antidepressant and within a few weeks my brain was so numb I called him and told him I couldn’t keep taking it because I couldn’t (emotionally) feel ANYTHING. He lowered my dose and I was able to function and stopped taking it a year later. Downside is it indeed changed my brain chemistry and the “fog” never went away; I won’t take another antidepressant because of it.

    All of that to say, I feel the anxiety is now manageable, although I hate it.

    I loved the quote you shared by Alice Boyes Ph.D in Psychology Today: “Anxiety might be your superpower, not your kryptonite. Changing my perception of my anxiety has helped me see that it doesn’t diminish my value in my career or as a parent, and might even enhance it.” In fact, I think I will adopt the first part of that as my own personal motto: “I choose to make my anxiety my superpower, not my kryptonite.”

    Thank you again for sharing your heart and know that God continues to use your life and love to change the lives of others.

    God bless you.

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