Monday, November 9, 2009


Today I have been overwhelmed with emotion, I don't care for the feeling. I woke up first thing this morning and before I was even fully aware of my surroundings, I was all too aware of the urgent sense of fear that was gripping my heart. It was an anxiety attack, or panic attack, whichever phrase you prefer. I have battled them for about five years.

In 2004 after we finally finalized Ethan's adoption after over 3 years of an emotional roller coaster, things had finally settled down in our lives and suddenly I started having these horrible bouts of anxiety and fear. I remember one day in particular that I was at our women's Bible study and I was sitting in a corner at a table and it felt like everything I could do not to crawl right out of my skin. I felt so completely cornered and vulnerable. I could barely breathe, and I was battling to keep the expression of my overwhelming emotions inside, because I was also embarrassed. I have always had this odd quirk about having to sit where I could see more of the room than not, or have the exit in clear view (random view into my faulted psyche) but this was different, all my rules were being followed, and yet I thought I was going to lose it right there in the middle, or rather corner, of our church cafe.

I did a lot of research and found out that panic attacks can be common after prolonged periods of stress. Ethan's 3 year adoption certainly qualified as such. Apparently what happens is when you live on a heightened sense of adrenaline for a long period, your adrenal gland will afterwards just misfire. You'll be sitting quietly and all of a sudden the trigger is pulled and you are overwhelmed with the "fight or flight" response. The problem back then was I just didn't know what it was, so first came the anxiety attack and then came the actual anxiety. It's highly stressful.

So here we are five year later, and my nemesis still raises his ugly head from time to time. It's sort of a relief when there is an actual stress going on so you know what the trigger is. A few months back when we were trying to refinance I was anxious about the money we paid in hope of of qualifying. I was having a lot of attacks those days, but today, I honestly can't put my finger on a trigger, but it doesn't matter, because someone else shot off the gun.

I don't know why they seem to come in the morning. It's very strange to wake up in your own bed from a good night's sleep and to suddenly feel what seems like a stranglehold on your heart. Like waves on the shore, it ebbed and flowed in and out throughout the day. At times I felt like the waves were beating me down, my heart in my throat feeling the fear but not knowing its source.

Unfortunately, no matter how well I may describe the feelings to you, if you have never experienced a panic attack, you cannot fully comprehend what I am describing. People who don't know treat you like you are weak, or there is something wrong with you. The "suck it up" attitude just doesn't work here. I know, I've tried. It's not fully emotional, and it's not the emotions alone that plague you. It's the physiological response that stands like the dragon needing to be slain.

Anxiety. I know the Bible says "be anxious for nothing," and when I know what my worries are, I do my best to give them to the Lord, but when it has no source, the battle against them is more difficult. Today I turned up the worship in my office, trying to fill my mind with truth. I tried to focus. The Bible says, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You." So I do my best to stay my focus. When I am unsure, God is sure. When I am overwhelmed, God remains in control. When I am lost, God stands.

Jesus is the one thing... the one need, the one constant, the one hope, the one truth, the one life... He is the answer to the anxiety... And I pray I see the fullness of it soon, in Jesus' name.


becky said...

Oh yes, I do certainly know what you mean about panic attacks. For a time, I had them so badly I couldn't go to work. Every time I got ready, they would kick in. Of course, I was under a lot of stress at work, so it figures in. Still, it is the most terrifying and debilitating thing. I wouldn't wish them on anyone.

JennP said...

thanks for your post. i have been the same for YEARS! the anxiety attacks are dormant for a while.. but then they flare up. I've had a few panic attacks for 3 days now. i'm ready to let them go! :)

RosemarieG said...

I just happened to see your post as a sidebar on another Blog and clicked the link here. I can relate very well to what you have said. I'm almost 8 years into a series of panic and anxiety I had never had before. Yes...I have prayed about it, too. I'm not really sure what the answer is to getting rid of it. I know there are meds but I really don't like the thought of taking "brain chemicals". Although if I knew with certainty that it wouldn't harm me and it would remove the anxiety then I suppose I would. I do take xanax in a very tiny dosage on an as needed basis. It can be very effective in removing the physical symptoms when I'm in a really bad way. Mostly, I just try to get through it the best I can. Sometimes it helps to know that its just anxiety and that I'm not dying. But I'm still hoping and praying that these will one day stop and be forever gone. I hope the same thing for all who suffer with it.