I refuse to let anxiety win. It’s extremely difficult to manage at times but you have to keep pushing through otherwise your world will shrink smaller and smaller, the quality of your life will quickly diminish and the symptoms will become increasingly worse. This is not a clinical diagnosis but is based on my own personal experience.
Many of us suffer with anxiety to a greater or lesser degree…the symptoms vary from sweaty palms and nervousness which is pretty normal to full blown panic attacks. I believe that certain personality types like mine are more prone to anxiety because of our need to be in control in order to feel safe. A lot of this stems from my early childhood experiences. All I know is that when life comes at me fast, it sometimes flips me upside down!
My first real encounter with anxiety occurred several years ago when I owned a little coffee shop. Sometimes when the alarm would go off at 4:30 a.m., I would have a panic attack and couldn’t breathe because I was thinking about all the responsibilities that rested on my shoulders. What if I became ill? What if something happened to me? Who would open up the shop and serve the customers that were expecting me to be there every day? I felt so overwhelmed at times, scared and all alone.
Moderate to severe anxiety surfaced again a couple of years later when I was unemployed for a period of time, the economy had tanked and jobs in my area were scarce or non-existent.
Over the past decade fear and anxiety concerning the well being of my daughter and granddaughters have tormented me many days and nights. They’ve experienced a lot of pain and suffering in their lives that has left them barely hanging on at times. It’s so frustrating and it hurts so badly when, as a parent, we can’t fix things for them and make their pain go away.
My most recent bout with anxiety occurred when my brother died four months ago. He was five years younger than me. His sudden passing caused me to wonder and subsequently worry about my own mortality…my bucket list…how much time I have left. I suddenly felt all this pressure (self imposed) to make up for lost time…to stop procrastinating…to live like I was dying. And what about mom who is almost eighty years old? How could I possibly handle losing her? I’ve visited her more since my brother’s death than ever before. I find myself wanting to squeeze her tight and never let go for fear of something happening to her. I’ve felt on edge a lot lately…jumpy, shaky…like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop even when things are going well. These recurring thoughts bring on the anxiety. It is stressful to say the least but I desperately need to feel in control of some areas of my life again. I suspect this is all pretty “normal” given the circumstances and part of the grieving and healing process.
I feel anxious about real and imagined threats like distracted drivers speeding on crowded highways and so many other things that are happening in our society today. BUT I refuse to allow fear and anxiety to win and I’m committed to doing everything I can to manage it.
I’m trying to face my fears and do things in spite of them like driving on the crazy interstates wherever I need to go even if I have to “white knuckle” it for a while. I’m usually riding shotgun anyway because I’ve asked Jesus to take the wheel before we even pull out of the driveway.
I live two and a half hours away from mom and it’s not practical for me to go there as frequently as I have been, so I’m trying to find some balance.
Diet and exercise go a long way too when it comes to managing our emotions and mental health so I’ve been paying closer attention to my activity level and the types of food that I put into my mouth.
I’m also beginning to accept that I can’t fix my adult children’s problems no matter what I say or do…they never really asked me to anyway. I’ll always be there for them if they need me but in the meantime I’m going to concentrate on living my own life well.
As always I’m spending as much time as possible with God and growing my faith. Only He knows when and how He’s going to bring me home so I might as well relax and enjoy the time that I have left here.
Did you know that accordingly to Dr. Charles Stanley, there are three levels of faith? Level 1 is “little” faith, Level 2 is “great” faith and Level 3 is “perfect” faith. I’ve been a Christian for about fifty years now and most days I’m still circling the drain of Level 1 faith. Do you know what some of the characteristics of “little” faith are? Anxiety, fear, restlessness, struggling, fretting, doubting, worrying, being tossed about, questioning…
Level 2 faith is a “reaching” faith…a powering through faith, a trusting faith. That’s where you’ll find me now…on my good days.