Pull The Freakin’ Trigger – Overcoming Panic and Anxiety

trigger

I’m not the most patient person. I practice patience but it doesn’t come natural to me.  Tony and I were watching a movie where a married couple had been taken hostage in their own home.  The bad guys kept holding guns to their heads and threatening to kill them.  At first the drama and fear was very scary and made me sit on the edge of my seat to see what was going to happen next, but after about 30 minutes of the movie with continuous threats from the bad guys and crying/screaming from the husband and wife I. Was. So. Over. It. I looked at Tony and said (because we’re those people that talk through movies about how we would do things differently) “PULL THE TRIGGER ALREADY!!!!  KILL ME!  Oh my goodness.  I would make someone kill me in this scenario.  You’re not just going to keep threatening to kill me and make me endure the fear and anticipation of whether or not you’re going to kill me – just kill me! Pull the freakin’ trigger and let’s move on! Because I’m either going to die right now or walk away from this situation” I know that when I leave this earth I get to be with my beautiful Heavenly Father.  I may not understand all the hurt and pain of this life but I do know that God is good, my goal is to get to Him face to face one day, and this life is but a breath. Now I’ve never been in the above scenario exactly BUT I have walked through life under so much torture, fear, and pretty much was held hostage for a year while I suffered from anxiety and depression. Do you know how I overcame?  I got to the point where I said to the devil, “Pull the trigger.”  I got so tired of him holding the gun to my head and controlling my life through fear, that I just threw up my hands and adopted the attitude of “pull the freakin’ trigger!”  You know what?  I called his bluff.  He was either going to pull the trigger or I was going to walk away … and if he decided to shoot me while I was walking away then SO BE IT… but I just knew I wasn’t about to stand there any longer under his captivity of fear. Now don’t get me wrong… I don’t mean this in a suicidal way – I mean this in an “I-don’t-care-if-I-die-but-I’m-going-to-live-my-life-now” kind of way …. in a “You can shoot me in the back as I’m walking away” kind of way…  I’m moving on.  Enough with this drama! You may have heard Joyce Meyer say, “Do it afraid.”  She’s absolutely CORRECT.  I know it’s hard but you’ve got to get up and do it afraid to get out of this vicious cycle of fear. I know we all have different stories and different attacks through anxiety but for me, one of my biggest obstacles was a fear of dying.  This fear controlled me.  I would not drive on the interstate, I was afraid to be alone, I was a hypochondriac, where you’re ALWAYS conscious of your health and every little thing makes you feel like you’re dying.  This is what it was like inside of my head at any given moment – “I can’t breathe.  I’m not breathing properly.  My hands are tingly.  Why are my legs numb? What’s that feeling in my side.  I have cancer.  I have a tumor.  I’m going to die.  My daughter’s not going to grow up with a mother (my son wasn’t in the picture yet) because I’m going to die at an early age.”  THIS WAS CONSTANT! I also had Necrophobia, which is an irrational fear of dead things or things associated with death such as cemeteries, coffins, funerals, tombstones.  I remember I worked for a payroll company and we had just closed a contract with a bunch of funeral homes.  I had to set up these accounts and it was TERRIFYING to me because they were associated with death.  I also remember one time terminating an employee in an HR system and the reasons listed were, “Resigned”, “Terminated,” “Retired” , “Deceased”.  I HATED this screen in the system.  Seeing the word “deceased” made me experience shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, dry mouth and shaking.  I would feel sick! I also experienced agoraphobia- which is a fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like markets. I feared leaving a safe place, which was my home or my in-law’s home. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder involving anxiety and intense fear of any situation where escape may be difficult, or where help may not be available. It often involves a fear of crowds, bridges or of being outside alone. I feared going to prison.  Very irrational but I thought I was going to get framed and wind up going to prison.  How? I don’t know but it felt very real to me.  I was terrified.  Tony used to watch these prison documentaries and I just couldn’t deal.  I would have to leave the room because in my head I believed I was going to wind up in prison! I had General Anxiety Disorder: Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person’s thinking that it interferes with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities, and relationships. [WebMD] I had panic disorder: People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes. Sometimes symptoms may last longer. These are called panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger. A person may also have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack. It may feel like having a heart attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, and many people with panic disorder worry about and dread the possibility of having another attack. A person with panic disorder may become discouraged and feel ashamed because he or she cannot carry out normal routines like going to the grocery store or driving.[National Institute of Mental Health] All that to say – I had a lot going on!  Now understand, I never had any of these things before.  Fear was not even on my radar until the day I experienced my first panic attack (Read my story here).  It’s so crazy how my life flipped upside down in one day. As you read my blogs you know there was a lot of deep rooted stuff that came to the surface but in my mind, one day changed the course of my whole life. Every day was hard.  Each day I would wake up with dread and count down the hours until it was time to go to bed again, not because of sleep, because I couldn’t sleep due to the anxiety, but because my responsibilities of the day would be over.  Where do you go when you can’t run from yourself? Who do you talk to when the people closest to you stare at you like you’re crazy or overreacting? Where do you go when the best advice people can offer you is, “You’re fine. Everybody has blue moments.”? You go to the feet of Jesus. In John 6:68, right after Jesus had lost a large following, He turned to his disciples and asked did they want to leave too.  Simon Peter replied with the perfect response:  “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This is where I found myself.  LORD!!!! Where else can I go?!!? I will lie here at your feet until you give me the strength to move. It was only by spending time with Jesus and CHOOSING to believe His word REGARDLESS of how I felt, that I was able to get to a place where I could say, “pull the trigger!” I have a solution for your pain that you’re going through. Love Jesus and seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength AND you have to face what scares you the most. It’s that simple. It takes time and it takes practice but when you get God’s word rooted into you and you’re filled with the Holy Spirit’s peace and direction you will find the strength, confidence and courage to say, “pull the freakin’ trigger” and call the enemy’s bluff! It’s funny how often Tony and I say this in our personal lives.  When we reference anyone trying to hold fear over us in a threatening way whether in the natural or spiritual, we remember that we serve God and that He protects us and leads us… and therefore, “Pull the trigger!”  Shoot if you want but I know that God’s got me and I don’t have to worry. A bad guy/chick holds a gun to you to CONTROL you. They place fear over you to get YOU to do what THEY want. Can you imagine looking at them square in the eye and saying, “No. Pull the trigger.”  <– Now I’m not saying to do that if you’re ever in this scenario but you get my drift right?  They would lose ALL control when you don’t care whether you live or die at that moment.  You’ve seen the movies where the dude has a gun to his head and is given a directive to which he responds with something tough and vulgar and spits in the criminals face (they’re usually both criminals)!? He’s no fun anymore…  you can’t control a person like that.  So think of that type of scenario with the enemy. I remember the first time I went to the park by myself after suffering from anxiety and depression.  I wanted to go jogging.  I was terrified.  I was at the park by myself and very far away from my car (because my car made me feel safe).  I started jogging and I felt so weak.  My heart rate went up (which is normal with exercise) and I started breathing hard (which is normal with exercise) and my head started telling me that I was going to die.  I was going to die in the park and no one was going to get to me in time. As the thoughts started to take me hostage everything within me told me to LEAVE and go somewhere safe but I just got so pissed off at the devil.  I said out loud, “I’m not leaving.  I’m here to jog. I am FREE and I’m going to jog and if I die while I’m jogging then what a good way to enter heaven. “Lord, I was taking care of my earthly temple and now here I am face to face with you.” I’m not going to stop. I have all authority through the Power of Jesus to carry on with my day.  Pull the freakin’ trigger!” I’m sure I looked like a crazy person BUT sometimes you’ve just got to hear yourself speak some truth over yourself! Guess what?  I jogged 3 miles and then I went on with my day.  I did it afraid.  I conquered the panic.  I was definitely anxious and on a scale of 0-10, around an 8-9 for the first 10-15 minutes but anxiety can’t stay at that state consistently for long periods of time.  The anxiety will usually come down after 10-15 minutes.  I just had to endure and keep going. The enemy has no power or control over us except that which we give him.  He can threaten us and hold a gun to our heads but he has no power.  We can’t always control our thoughts but we can control what we do with them. We can take them captive and press forward.  This doesn’t mean you’re not terrified and this doesn’t mean you don’t experience physical symptoms of anxiety – this means you go on with your life and stop fearing the FEAR itself. So today I want to encourage you to make a list of what you’re fearing and then go before The Lord and hand those things over to Him.  Ask yourself – are you afraid of the devil or are you ready to tell him to pull the trigger and move on with your life?  Over the next few weeks start facing your fears.  Get a support group to help you.  Trust me, when you first try to face them you’re going to try to run away because you don’t want to experience the pain and scary feelings of anxiety.  Get some accountability around you.  Be encouraged my friends!  Hang on!  Press forward and be proud of yourself!  It took me a year to get moving and get to the point of “I’d rather die trying than stay locked up and isolated.” and then once I got to that point I had to take another 6 months to practice and set new patterns in my life.  It’s scary.  I know! Your life is worth living. You are a treasure.  You are redeemed and restored and HEALED in Jesus’ name.  Not because I say so but because HE says so!!! I love you deeply and I’m excited to see what God does in your life. Press forward, April Poynter

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