I was diagnosed with moderate to severe anxiety and panic disorder when my second son was about 14 months old. I remember the slow incline from feeling fat, ugly, sad, edgy, and extremely irritated to a full blown panic attack, which required a 911 call. My chest was hurting, my body was shaking, and my brain was telling me that I was surely dying. It was one of the scariest feelings I had ever encountered. So many people are very ignorant when it comes to anxiety and panic disorder. I mean “ignorant” in the way in which it is defined in Webster’s dictionary, simply uneducated about a particular situation or subject. While my doctor told me he could prescribe anti-anxiety meds, my gut feeling told me to get the bottom of why this anxiety began in my mind instead of simply trying to cure it with medication only.
My second son was born when my oldest son was two years old. I had had C-sections with both. My situation at the time consisted of a job working 12 hour days three days a week. While that may seem like I have four days off, my four days off consisted of caring for an infant and a two year old while trying to maintain a 12 hour shift on about 5 hours of sleep. However, since this was my second son, I felt like I had to be super-mom. My house was neat, my children were always presented in the best light, and the smile on my face told the world that I was fine. Here was my predicament: my super-mom mindset resulted in me not resting and allowing my physical body to recover from my second C-section as I should have. I rushed through my maternity leave, barely bonding with my new son and leaving my two year old with just enough attention to get through a day, because my perspective was, “I’m a working mother of two boys, and by God, I will prove how strong and hard-working I am. Super-mom!!” This perspective triggered my anxiety. I would hold my emotions inside when I began to feel less than super. Before I knew what was happening, I became a master of moving through my day with robotic like reflexes. Oddly enough, my stress and anxiety was becoming apparent to everyone around me. When others said I was snappy or really edgy when I spoke, I simply ignored them and proceeded my super-mom day with the idea that going home and getting some rest would make for a great day tomorrow. Yeah, sleep with a new baby and a two year old!?
This nonsense carried on for the next year. It slowly began to dawn on me that I was asking my husband to get up and go get the baby when he cried, because I could NOT get my body to physically go to his nursery. When we had dinner as a family, I wanted the kids to sit next to my husband. “Oh, you sit with Daddy, so I can watch you guys and get cute pictures,” I would say. The truth was, I began to realize that I could not deal with my babies constant need for attention. My nerves were shot to say the least. Not resting after the birth triggered postpartum depression. Not recognizing my depression setting in and trying to do too much too soon began to build anxiety. The ever-building anxiety and tight hold on my emotions accompanied with my fake smile triggered more anxiety and panic attacks. Throughout this entire time, my doctor (who had seen me so often this year, because every day I felt like I was dying) continued to offer “stress” medication. Again, my gut feeling told me to find another answer.
One day, the wrong person said something to me at the wrong time, and my anger exploded with tears and yelling in such a way that surprised even me. I had reached my limit, and my physical being could hold no more. Oddly enough, when my rant was over, the feeling of relaxation and relief could not be described in words. A burden had been lifted, and an epiphany took place. I went home and felt a strong urge to read my Bible. I simply flipped open to a random page and began reading. This is the verse that jumped out at me. “Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.” Jeremiah 30:15. While some interpret this verse to mean God will afflict those who sin against Him, and He will, I interpreted this verse at this stage in my life in a different fashion. My emotions, mainly my guilt for not bonding with second son when he was a baby and disregarding my older son just after my new one was born, as well as certain emotional sinful thoughts and feelings I had held onto for far too long, had taken their toll on my emotional and then my physical being. I did have “great guilt and many sins” which manifested into horrific anxiety and panic.
I am not saying that all people suffer from anxiety and panic attacks for these reasons. I am saying my reasons for not taking medication are because I knew in my heart that my affliction was going to be cured in another way. We live in a society where all we hear is how this pill will cure that ailment. Medications are awesome, but they are not always the answer.
I will write more about my anxiety and panic attack experiences in future blogs, but I want to close this one with a few tips which might help keep your anxiety and panic attacks at bay.
- Cry when you feel like it. Crying is extremely healthy for men and women. Women have hormonal days when we feel the urge to cry without understanding why. Turn on the sad movies, sad songs, or think of a sad moment; and let those tears flow!! You will instantly feel release and relief, as well as cleanse your eyes.
- Bad days happen. VENT! Do not hold negative emotions inside, even if they are painful to talk about sometimes. Find a trusted friend. Call your pastor and schedule an appointment to meet. If nothing else, contact a free HOTLINE just so you have someone to unload your negativity upon and move forward with life.
- Pray. Religion is a personal choice, and I am not one to tell anyone how to live. However, I encourage anyone and everyone to pray to the God of their understanding. Casting your cares upon your chosen Higher Power will bring a peace like no other.
- Let things go. It is not imperative to have all of the floors vacuumed, the laundry completed, and the dishes washed every second of every day of your life. Take a few moments for yourself if you simply need to take a break.
- It is okay to say no. A very hard word to tell someone, especially those closest to us, is the word “no.” However, if it is necessary to tell someone that you are unable to commit to their demands, then say “no” and get over it. No need to feel guilty for telling someone that they will not get their way this time.
I hope this blog has helped someone. God bless!