I got a call Tuesday morning from the doctor. He said that my white count was low, probably due to fatigue. (And considering the crazy nights leading up to this, fatigue wasn't surprising.) But other than that, everything was fine. So, while I was kind of glad that nothing serious was wrong with me, I still felt very uneasy about this whole anxiety diagnosis.
That morning, I had to take Duke to his 9 month appointment. I was just hoping I wouldn't have a crazy episode while I was out.
Everything went fairly well that day. I kept myself busy and tried to take deep breaths if I felt something weird coming on. I'm in control of this thing, I kept telling myself.
At the end of the day, Colt reminded me to journal about all of this. It was all really odd stuff and I had no answers. As Colt was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, I sat in bed and began to journal. But something stopped me. Out of curiosity, I decided to look back on the past month's journal entries.
Tears began streaming down my face.
Here are a few of the excerpts I read that night:
June 5, 2012
I feel that if I discipline myself in prayer and listening to God, I could really be who I'm supposed to be and do what I'm supposed to do.
June 13, 2012
Not sure what is next on the agenda for me, but I have a hopeful feeling that God is going to give me something new and different and better.
June 14, 2012
Being helpless is what creates a deep prayer life. God, how do I become helpless? I need to be that. I need to be less. I need to feel weak. I need to feel like I can't control or do things on my own. Help me do that.
June 19, 2012
I need to have faith - not rely on optimism and answered prayers. No matter what happens, God is still God and God is still good.
I was absolutely floored.
And do I remember writing or praying any of that? Nope.
I wanted to feel a closeness and nearness with God that I hadn't ever felt. I wanted to feel Him on the other side of my prayers. I wanted to be dependent on Him and know that I truly was. I wanted to give up control of my life. I had asked Him for this.
He allowed me to do, feel, and know all of those things. He allowed for this great pain to overwhelm my body, something that I have always been very good at controlling. He allowed me to feel completely alone in my own mind. He allowed me to feel helpless, weak, and out of control.
This is the part of God that some find troubling (including myself sometimes). But God wasn't sitting in heaven on a comfy chair, zapping his hands at me, and making me suffer through this pain. He was allowing me to experience this pain, knowing all along that He would bring me out of it and I would come out of it a better person. In the end, I would be benefitting from it. I'm certainly not wanting to get into any kind of theological debate over God's sovereignty, existence, goodness, etc. I'm simply telling you my story.
I also don't want to debate the issue of anxiety and chemical imbalances. I truly do believe they exist and I believe people truly do suffer from anxiety. And yes, medication does help. While I did have the classic panic attack/anxiety symptoms, I don't believe that diagnosis was the end of it. I could've been okay with it, decided I was now someone with anxiety, taken my Xanax, and continued on with life. But something was not right about that. I could feel it. There was a deeper problem - a spiritual problem. I don't doubt I was experiencing anxiety. But I do believe that the outpouring of this pain came from a longing and emptiness in my soul.
All of it was so terrible and so painful. But it was all so worth it. I was supposed to uncover all of this truth about God and myself.
I sat there that night crying, reading through my journal, and thanking the Lord through prayer. It was as if a cool breeze had fallen on my entire body and a huge burden had been lifted. I was free and the pain was gone. Gone.
When Colt walked out of the bathroom, I told him he wouldn't believe what I just read. I shared these entries with him and my thoughts on the whole thing. We both sat there in awe. It was quiet for a second. Then, I looked up at Colt and said, "But would God really allow all of this to happen to me and for me to feel so much pain just so I could realize these things?" And he said, "Yes. That's how much He loves you." My eyes were filled with tears as I thought about this love that I had blocked out of certain parts of my heart. I had finally let it all in.
On top of all of this, a few days before the craziness began, Colt told me to read James 4. He had read it and thought I should too. Naturally, I found other more important things to do so I never got around to it. This night, I read it. How perfectly it fit in.
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
That night, I fell asleep praying. I fell asleep feeling like the Spirit of God was wrapped around me like a blanket. Like I could never escape it. And I didn't want to escape it. This was home.
So, how am I currently? Well, I still host mini anxiety battles in my heart and body. The only difference is that I'm not scared. And, praise the Lord, they have not been painful. Ever since my revelation that night, the pain has completely disappeared. These little moments of anxiety that creep in remind me that I am not ultimately in control of my body or anything else that happens in my days. They also remind me to pray, journal, listen, read scripture, and think. What is it that I'm not seeing, God? That is now my prayer almost every day.
Because I don't know the future, I have no idea if all of this panic and anxiety will ever hit me really badly again like it did those 4-5 days. If it happens again, though, I'll know who to turn to. And I think that's the point of this whole thing. I was always turning to me.
Sharing this story on my blog has been a huge blessing. It was just too good to not share. It was a perfect example of God's goodness and healing in my life (and still is). And to those of you who read all of this, thank you so much. I hope you'll keep reading as I plan to write one more post on some specific things I learned throughout this whole experience.
So, technically, this is the end of the story. But really, I feel like it's only just begun.