Confessions from an Anxiety Disorder

“’Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Anxiety and panic stink. Living with an anxiety disorder is like living with a sleeping beast deep down inside of you who you have no control over. You have an idea of what will cause this beast to wake up and yet, sometimes it chooses to let loose for no apparent reason. You can’t predict a beast, it acts in ways that make no sense.

Last night my beast woke up. I am allergic to acetominaphen and ibuprofen so no headache, cold or pain killer medicine for me. I was pouring some cold medicine for my daughter and spilled it down my arm. I immediately felt the beast start to stir. I ran into the bathroom and washed my arm like I had spilled acid on myself. I scrubbed for several minutes with hot soapy water all the while in my head thinking, “a substance on your skin for 20 seconds will enter your bloodstream.” YIKES! My head began to spin a bit between trying to clean my arm, clean the mess and remain calm in appearance so that I wouldn’t upset my daughter.

Let me just stop for a moment and explain something. For those of you who don’t have this disorder this may sound strange but, you can’t always tell when someone is having an anxiety attack. Most people who live with an anxiety disorder have learned very well how to stay calm on the surface while their beast is making a mess below. It is part of the coping mechanism and is also part of what makes this disorder complex.

Back to last night. Once I got everything cleaned up and my daughter off to bed, I laid in the stillness of my room and prayed. “God, I need you to protect me here. Please don’t let me have a reaction. Please take away this anxiety.” The voices in my head were condemning with words like, “don’t be so stupid, a little medicine on your arm isn’t going to kill you,” to “you are so weak and this is so crazy.” I swallowed over and over just to make sure I could. I paid close attention to my breathing. I watched a movie to keep my brain distracted. I prayed. This all kept going for about an hour. Every moment that ticked by made me feel a little bit better because I wasn’t noticing any symptoms. Every prayer made me feel a little bit better because I knew God was with me.

I dream about a day when I have no anxiety. I am so thankful to say that my anxiety attacks are few and far between thanks to God who has brought a peace to my life that is completely amazing and nothing short of miraculous. I have had days when I couldn’t go past the front isles of a grocery store because my anxiety was so bad. I have days now when an elevator will send me into a tailspin. And for the most part, I have days where when I feel my beast stirring even a little bit, I run to my Rock and my Refuge for coverage and He brings peace.

God, in His infinite wisdom, is not taking my anxiety disorder away from me and I have accepted that as fact. Thankfully, He has not left me alone in it and I have verses like this from Isaiah to remind me that He is always with me to strengthen me and I need only look at Him. This is one of my weaknesses that can and will show His strength in my life and I have story after story after story to prove it.

Anxiety disorders stink but our God is bigger than any attack we have. If you don’t struggle with this I pray you will be compassionate towards those who do. Approximately 40million people in America have some type of anxiety disorder. (www.nimh.nih.gov) Please grasp that we understand our anxiety doesn’t make reasonable sense so don’t try to help us explain it away with reason. Pray for us. Support us. Love us and walk through the attacks with us. If you do struggle with this, pray and read your bible. God has so much in His Word to support you, love you and help you with this disorder. Pray for His guidance to the verses that you need. Seek medical help if you are having a hard time coping. There is no shame in seeking help.

If you want a prayer partner, email me at kaprayingforyou@gmail.com. I will also share the verses that help me the most if you think that will help you.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy.

Love you,

KA

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Always Here, Always Near

Deuteronomy 31:6b:  “…for it is the lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Joshua 1:5b: “I will not leave you or forsake you.”

Matthew 28:20: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I woke up this morning feeling distant from God. Like somehow things just weren’t right, things didn’t feel right. My natural inclination is to feel like He turned away from me because I did something wrong. I ran through the day before in my head and couldn’t find anything I had done wrong. I went through my mental checklist: quiet time, check; prayer, check; kindness to others, check; cared for my daughter, check. I had done everything I thought I was supposed to do so that God would be happy and love me.

(Insert screeching halt here!) Yes, I had done everything I had thought God would have wanted me to do yesterday in order for me to feel He was happy with me and loved me. The tremendous flaw in that is I can’t do anything to make Him love me…He just does! My actions, while they are either pleasing to Him or not, do not dictate how much God loves me. Hear this please: what you DO does not impact who God IS and that He LOVES YOU!

If I am living life in a way that is contrary to what God desires, of course the natural outcome is I won’t feel close to Him because I’m not close to Him. That’s not a mystery, it’s a relationship. Relationships are two ways streets and the only way to stay close is to face the same direction and move at the same pace on the same path. The great thing about God is this…He never leaves, never forsakes me. No matter what I am doing in my day, God is there. My choice is to align with what He has for me or go it on my own but neither move God, only me.

My “feelings” this morning could have led me down a dark road. I could have decided that God had moved, forsaken me, and left me alone. I could have started to shuffle on down the road by myself, hands in my pockets, head down and lonely. I have made this choice many times in my life and likely, so have you. The great thing about today was that I relied on my head knowledge from hours spent reading God’s word instead of my feelings. God’s word promises that He never leaves. HE NEVER LEAVES!! He knows me to my core, all of my dark thoughts, all of my broken promises and yet HE NEVER LEAVES!!

Admittedly, even though my head knowledge is in complete control and I am leaning on God’s promise that He is always with me, I don’t really FEEL a whole lot different right now. However, I am putting all my eggs in this one basket believing 100% that I am not alone and that eventually, my feelings will catch up with the truth. My faith in God’s promises is larger than my feelings to the contrary. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself in the same place…live in your faith.

If today you feel like God has left you, please know that is a lie. The enemy wants you to believe it so that you stay far away from God. Look up the verses at the start of this entry for yourself and see that I didn’t change them in any way. Write them on a note card and carry them with you to read over and over and over…as many times as necessary. Don’t let your feelings dictate your relationship with God because they will be misleading. Lean on the truth…God never leaves, never forsakes.

Email me if I can pray with you at kaprayingforyou@gmail.com. Sometimes just asking for prayer is a breakthrough, so don’t miss out.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy.

Love you,

KA

Vacation…All I Ever Wanted?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Ok, so last week was our end-of-summer vacation to San Francisco. Here was the plan: Monday morning take the 9:30am train from Seattle to Emeryville and then bus over to San Francisco. Be sightseeing by 10am and see all the sights all week long. Be completely tuckered out and totally stuffed with food and trinkets. Catch the bus back to Emeryville at 7:30pm on Friday and be home and in our beds by 9:30p Saturday. We had lots of excitement over the adventure because we’d never been to San Francisco before and I had bought all kinds of tickets for use to see all kinds of great things!

Now, here’s what actually happened: We spent 22 hours on the train Monday, 7 hours in San Francisco Tuesday and were back home on Wednesday at 9:30p. If your brain is trying to figure out that math, it will help you to know that we arrived in and left from San Francisco on the SAME DAY!! Talk about not expecting the plans God has for you!

The train ride down to San Francisco was lovely. It’s fun to travel by train and Sylvia had our own room so we were set. Our only challenge the first night was trying to figure out how to shut off the light in our room. We tried to sleep with it on and then around 11p I looked up and saw the switch. Nothing like paying attention!!! Other than that, we met lovely people and spent the day just hanging out and chit-chatting.

When we arrived in Emeryville, we hopped onto a coach bus and headed into San Francisco. I hadn’t done a TON of research on the city but I had City Passes and Open-Top bus passes so I felt like we were all set. The weather was lovely too, which was nice. The bus dropped us off in the Union Square shopping area which was just a few blocks away from our hotel so it was a fairly easy walk. We headed out down Powell and turned left on Geary and that’s when everything shifted.

I began to notice that the neighborhood got a little dirtier and run down. As we were walking, I started thinking, hmm…this could get interesting. I was still feeling optimistic that our trip would be awesome and then we came to the hotel. If I hadn’t been looking for the sign, I wouldn’t have seen the door. It was about the 5th hotel in a row, each getting a little less “pretty” on the outside. We got checked in and headed to our room.

This room was, well, um, four walls with two beds and a bathroom so yes, it was a room. The door was flimsy enough that I’m pretty sure I could have broken it down if I leaned on it just right. There was a lovely, musty odor. The view from the window was of 3 other buildings roof tops. On the bright side, there was a ceiling fan AND a TV! The bathroom was also pretty nice. (Too bad you had to go through the room to get to it!) At this point it’s 10a and I’m starting to feel worried that I’ve made a horrible mistake.

We chill in the room for an hour and hit the road to hop on a bus and tour the city. The guy at the front desk didn’t know exactly where we were supposed to go so we wandered a little bit until we found a city information booth and got some directions. We hopped on the bus and began our San Francisco adventure! I kid you not, within 6 blocks of where we got on the bus, and about 2 blocks from our hotel, the tour guide points out that we are now on skid row. Awesome! I chose a hotel that was 2 blocks from the worst part of town!! (I clearly need to be a travel agent ‘cuz I’m THAT good.) At this point I’m starting to pray and ask God for guidance on what to do next. I know myself well enough to know I won’t be able to sleep in the hotel and Sylvia was already feeling like the place was creepy.

So as we are touring along, I’m trying to soak the situation in and still look around what is a huge and old city. We go over the Golden Gate Bridge and nearly get blown out of the bus. It was an awesome view, no doubt about it. It was also extremely windy and chilly. As we are coming back we decide that we want to go back to the Haight/Ashbury district and do a little shopping. Altogether, by the time we go around the large loop once and get back to Haight/Ashbury, a little over an hour has passed and I’m thinking that we need to be sure to be back in the hotel before it gets dark. Not exactly what you want to be thinking on your vacation.

We get off the bus in front of Golden Gate Park to about 30 homeless folks in 3-4 groups. Some smoking cigarettes, some drinking from paper bags and some smoking other things that are much tangier scented. I’m now much more nervous and just want to go to a couple stores and then head back to the hotel. We pop into McDonald’s for a pit stop and find that the only way into the bathroom is to be buzzed in due to security. Great! We head off to a couple shops and pass a drug deal along the way. Perfect! This is exactly how I envisioned this vacation!! Not.

By this time I honestly an uncertain I can keep us safe for the next few hours let alone for the entire week. I’ve been praying for peace and not getting any. I’ve been praying for guidance and just feel like not staying is the only real option. So, I called Amtrak and changed our reservation home from Friday to Tuesday. We went back to the hotel, packed up and checked out just a few hours after checking in. We walked back to the bus stop and by 7:30p on Tuesday we were back in Emeryville waiting to board the train home.

My plans were to have a relaxing and fun adventure in a new city with my daughter. God’s plan was to show me that there are a lot of hurting people out there that are living with no hope. My heart was so broken for the people we saw that all I did was cry off and on all day Thursday. I’ve seen plenty of homeless people but this felt different. This felt dark and sad. There was no light in the places we saw, no joy, no happiness. And quite honestly, no way out. It was an eye-opening experience that I was not expecting.

Sylvia and I did have a great week together. We hung out and chatted about the new school year and her friends. We met some awesome people on the train. We did some school shopping and more hanging out. I dare say we spent more face time and talk time together home than we would have had we stayed out of town and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful for God’s protection and guidance and for laying on my heart His burden for people. It’s been a great vacation and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. 🙂

I pray you are always open to seeing what God’s plan is for your life. I could have been mad that He didn’t give me more guidance in the planning. I could have been made at the extra money spent. Instead, I chose to say thanks for the new vision and heart for sharing God’s love with others. When we have our hope in Christ, we have to find ways to share it because there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what hope is and that’s frightening to me.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. Look for ways to share your hope in Christ. Love those around you. Oh, and make sure you know what area of town you are staying in BEFORE you get there. 🙂

Love,

KA