(*Stands up, shaking and sweating…*)
“Hi. My name is Cherisse and I have an anxiety disorder. And I’ve struggled for 7 years.”
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m fed up with hiding, or if my pregnancy hormones are raging or if God is just releasing me…but today – I feel brave. And I want to expose what I’ve been hiding.
Only my family, good friends and my saint of a husband know the struggle that I’ve gone through since 2007. The ups, downs, the panic attacks, the times I’ve convinced myself I was losing my mind and was going to end up in the looney bin and the times where God has saved me.
So for some reason I thought I would be immune to the panic attacks and anxiety during this pregnancy. Maybe its because my last pregnancy went pretty smoothly (besides the morning sickness). Or maybe because with this baby I spent my whole first trimester trying to just keep a cracker and some water down, so I didn’t have time for anxiety.
What ever the case…I’m struggling now.
For those of you who haven’t dealt with this
lovely disorder – anxiety can make you think weird thoughts you’ve never had and you fear the most simple situations. The things that non-anxiety suffers do everyday without thinking twice, is a huge battle for those with anxiety.
Simple things like – social situations, standing in line at the store and even being home alone can freak you out.
When I stand outside of my own body and look in – all my fears are really so dumb and irrational. But when you’re in the throws of a panic attack, they feel as real as the adrenaline pumping through your veins.
But you know what I’ve found to be a HUGE ally when I’m under attack? VULNERABILITY. The ability to just look at someone and say… “I’m having a bad anxiety day” or “Hey, give me a minute – I’m feeling panicky right now.”
When I’m not hiding in my own skin, and not trying to act “normal” in front of people, the fear has no where to plant itself. Some days I honestly want to wear a shirt out in public that says “Ask me about my anxiety disorder!” that way – everything is out in the open and I’m not in public trying to act like I’ve got it all together. My counselor (why yes, I am in counseling) even suggested that next time I feel panicked in a public situation – like standing in line at the store, I look at the person next to me and say “Sometimes I get anxious standing in line.” Ummm talk about a pride buster. Telling a stranger that I’m struggling? That’s some vulnerability at is finest people.
I’m a deep thinker. In fact, if it was possible to earn a degree from deep/over-analytical thinking…I’d have at least 6 Ph.D’s by now. Like my one of my spiritual hero’s Beth Moore says “I can literally think a thought to death.” Some times I ask God why He didn’t just give me a simple, un-complex mind. But that’s not how he wired me…and I’m learning to be okay with that.
So here’s where I am today. I’m in the throws somewhere between: struggling, scared, hurting, frustrated, tired, confused, messy…and love, acceptance, grace, healing, hope, change, growth and the closest I’ve ever felt to God.
All I know is that later in life – when someone asks my kids to describe me, I want them to day… “She was always open and honest…and she wasn’t afraid to fully be herself.”
Some people (even my own family) might think this post is too raw or embarrassing. But that’s ok, I’m not writing for them…I’m writing for me.
There are so many more things I have swirling around in this complicated brain that I want to say. I guess I’ll just have to keep writing and keep exposing more of the darkness…
And hey! If you ever see me out in public and I have a distant, far-off look in my eyes…I’m probably having an anxious moment. But don’t be afraid to ask me about my anxiety. The more light I shed, the more healing for me (and possibly you too?). 🙂