Today I went shopping … by myself… for a long time … and I felt normal. I never thought I would take for granted something so simple as shopping for clothes or grocery shopping until March 1st 2011 when I started to experience the most overwhelming anxiety imaginable! From March 1st until May 25th day in and day out – every moment of the day- I experienced paralyzing anxiety. I thought I was dying. I thought I was crazy. No one understood. Life changed.
Numerous tests – antidepressants – some serious, serious time on my face at the feet of Jesus – moving – losing a dear friend of the family – amazing support – … WOW!
It all started on March 1st right after losing my job at K-Laser. I was quite relieved about no longer working at K-Laser and thought my ‘stay-at-home-mom’ gig would just return to normal like it was after Sommet Group shut down… but there was a different plan at hand. I had dealt with a frustrating cough for about 3 weeks and decided after lunch with Tony on March 1st I would swing by the Minute Clinic and get the cough checked out. Minutes before entering the Minute Clinic I had a talk with Tony and the Lord struck us both with quite a revelation. These words came out of my mouth “We say God is in control and we say that we are willing to go where He leads… but we’re really not. We try to control everything He does, we put Him in our own comfortable box…. I am now ready to let go and follow where He leads me!” Although I was excited for the revelation I started to experience immediate fear in the backdrop of my life… I just didn’t know it… yet.
I met with the Nurse Prac at the Minute Clinic and could tell by the strange look on her face as she was checking my blood pressure that something was off. She said “let me do this again. Now sit back and really relax.” I did as she asked. The Nurse Prac said that my blood pressure was REALLY high. Now to some this would be no big deal but to me it was very startling. I have NEVER been told that my blood pressure is high or that anything is wrong… ever… the Nurse Prac didn’t give me any details – she just said my blood pressure was high and went on with her routine.
I left the Minute Clinic, got in my car, and headed to pick up Trinity. I stopped at a store next to Trinity’s daycare to pick up a snack for her and as I was browsing the isle I felt really dizzy and started to black out. I dropped everything I had collected at the store and ran out into the parking lot. I thought I was dying. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was sweating all over…. yup! I was dying.
I called Tony to see if his mom could pick up Trinity from daycare and if he could meet me at home. I pulled myself together, got in the car and headed home … a terrible ride home. I made it home, terrified, and laid in the bed. I started to black out again. Tony got home and literally held me for hours until I FINALLY felt some since of calm come over me. I fell asleep and slept through the night.
The next morning all was well in the Poynter home as Tony left for work but shortly after he left I felt so scared to be at home alone with Trinity. She was still paid up in daycare for the rest of the week so I got both of us dressed and we headed towards daycare. I will never forget it – I promised Trinity a chocolate chip muffie from Panera and as we stood at the register I felt those overwhelming, scary feelings AGAIN! I hurried and paid for our items in between dizzy spells and rushed out the door. I called Tony and asked him to take me to the ER – something was definitely wrong. … very wrong!
Sitting in the waiting room I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. “I’m going to die right here and leave my daughter behind with no mother.” I thought to myself as I watched the nurse place the RED piece of paper on my chart because I told her I had chest pain and trouble breathing. After my EKG and talking with the doctor I felt much better especially once the doctor explained to me how blood pressure works and that the nurse from the Minute Clinic should have given me more information… the doctor was not concerned with my blood pressure at all, in fact, by the time I left he said my blood pressure was perfect. My EKG was normal, my blood work was normal, my blood pressure was perfect, I was fine. Great news … but I didn’t feel fine… I definitely didn’t feel normal.
To try to make these four months somewhat short in description I will fast forward. My life had changed dramatically! I could not be alone. I could not be in traffice without freaking out. I pulled away from social events and tried to hurry away when I was out with friends. I could not have a conversation without being irritated. My patience with Trinity was ZERO. I lost 10 lbs because I had absolutely no appetite. I prayed my heart out and experienced how it really feels to put God first in my life because it was LIFE or DEATH and He was the only unchanging thing in my life. I cried all the time. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Anxiety had turned into depression.
We were in the process of moving from our comfortable Brentwood apartment to a not-so-comfortable apartment in Franklin and the transition was tougher than I thought it would be – moving is hard already but if you add anxiety/depression to packing, planning, moving… wow! Overload!
I remember staring my doctor in the face as he asked me “Are you depressed? … Do you want me to put you on an antidepressant?” I didn’t want to answer this question. I wanted him to tell me what I needed to do … but he asked me… and I answered.
I took the antidepressant for 5 days. Ugh.. a miserable 5 days … so sick that I literally thought I was pregnant. In the craziness of throwing up one morning I felt the Lord say to my heart “Don’t do it!” … So I stopped. No more… and then I get a text message from my older brother telling me that a dear friend of our family was on life support at Williamson Medical Center and was not going to make it. I stood there in awe and starred at the text. “God?!?! WHY?!?!?! Why is this happening?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I can’t take anymore!!!!!”
I starred at Billy with tears in my eyes knowing that she was no longer there and that the machines were keeping her alive at this point. I was looking death in the face. Billy was at peace – my fear was overwhelming – I was tired.
After this I spent a lot of time at the feet of Jesus. Through the Word He covered me in Truth, I read books about faith, I watched documentaries about Jesus and learned more than I ever thought my brain could hold. Although my knowledge grew, my love for Christ grew, my prayer circle grew … something was still wrong.
My in-laws went out of town for 5 days and we were housesitting for them. I remember we got to their house and I realized we had forgotten our pillows. I was already feeling overwhelmed about the fact that we would be away from home for five days (even though we live 2 minutes down the street) because when you’re dealing with General Anxiety Disorder anything that is out of the ordinary can trigger a panic attack. I felt terrified but I decided I would drive home by myself and get our pillows. As I was driving I felt light headed and began to panic. I got to the apartment and went inside my bedroom and felt so much fear that I started to have a hard time breathing. I ran from my room to Trinity’s room to get her pillows. “GET OUT OF HERE!” my brain screamed to me – then I stopped. I threw the pillows down, fell to the floor, and screamed “If I’m going to die then I’m going to die! To live is Christ to die is GAIN! I can’t do this anymore!!! I can’t run anymore!!!! I’m so tired!!!! GOD PLEASE!!!!! DO SOMETHING!!! I CAN’T DO THIS BY MYSELF, I AM NOT CAPABLE, I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING LEFT IN ME AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE THIS STOP NOW!!!!!!!!!!!” I guess between panicing, screaming, and crying I blacked out but not completely unconsious. I could feel the presence of the Lord over me and the scripture from Genesis filled my heart “and the Spirit of the Lord was hovering…” I literally felt the Spirit of the Lord hovering over me. I don’t know how long I was on the floor, it could have been seconds, but it felt like a very long time. I sat up and although I still felt on edge there was a sense of calm within me. I made it back to Tony’s parent’s house, showered, prayed, and went to sleep.
The next morning I felt horrible… depressed… I usually did in the mornings – anxiety and depression were at their worst in the morning for me. I got online and started to research and came across a website that was reviewing the Panic Away program …. so silly … God would reveal my answer on the internet … through Panic Away.
Panic Away described my situation to the fullest … every detail of it and then gave the solution. Instead of RESISTING the sensations and feelings of anxiety – accept them, embrace them, and demand more! “WHAT?!?!?! There is NO WAY this could be the answer!” I said to myself. I did the excercises … it worked. You see, I had been plagued by fear! I knew I was fearing something I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I prayed and prayed for God to show me what I was fearing – we went down different avenues together where He uncovered hidden things and dealt with me on other issues but there was still something hanging around – fear – I just didn’t know WHAT I was fearing. While watching the Panic Away videos I learned that I was fearing the anxiety itself. I was so plagued and paralyzed by the thought of having another anxiety attack that my whole life was at a stand still. As soon as I started to accept the anxiety, embrace it, and demand more of it EVERYTHING CHANGED. I had taken back control of my life.
I believe that when I fell to the ground while collecting pillows at my apartment I finally stopped resisting God. I finally came to the end of myself and realized I could not fix myself. The next day God revealed the answer. I giggle now because it was such a simple solution. No one – professional or friend – ever told me to allow the feelings and sensations of anxiety to do their thing… something so simple and no one knew…. but God did.
My anxiety went away on May 25th. I’m still working through other things – after being plagued by the fear for almost 4 months I still have ‘weird’ feelings at times, depressing thoughts, I get emotional easily, but I am returning to normal… except normal now is not what normal use to be. You see, God rewired my heart.
I never understood and maybe never will fully understand why God allowed me to go through such terrifying pain for 4 months but I’m grateful it wasn’t 5 months, or a year, or 12 years… BUT as bad as I wanted to be out of that pit when I was in it… I wouldn’t erase going through it – I met my Savior in the pit… He was there when I slid in, He held my hand in the darkest moments in the bottom of the cold pit, He wrapped His arms around me when I wouldn’t move, and He ultimately pulled me out of the dark pit and back into the sunshine… on dry ground. He never left my side and I got to see what it’s really like to cling to Jesus.
He has taught me to fully rest in Him and stop trying to help Him out… lol! Did you know that God doesn’t need our help?!?! Who knew?!?! lol! He is the God of the universe! He just wants to live through me and that happens when I’m resting in Him. Wow… Everything I have ever known for the past 6 years of my Christian life… was wrong. I mean sure… the basics were right to some extent… but I was all wrong. HELLO!!! Christian 101 – GRACE! Ummm…. why have I never known about God’s GRACE until this past month?!?!?! Wow! Totally turned my world upside down!
On Monday, June 20th, I start a new job. I believe this is THE job. Some sweet colleagues from one of my past jobs reached out to me and the next thing I knew I was receiving an offer letter.
God is amazing… even in our lonliest times He never leaves us. He did not promise the road would be easy – but He did promise He would NEVER leave us… that we wouldn’t walk it alone….
He is faithful. His Word is truer than how we feel. I am so thrilled that He is in control and I’m not – I don’t have a clue! haha! :o)
Blessings over you and yours!