There’s a good chance I’ve written on this topic before. If so, I tried to search and the computer didn’t feel like cooperating. I’m going on faith that perhaps someone needs to read what I’m sharing today.
A couple days ago my husband got out his new collapsable ladder for little jobs outside. One of them was to help me clean a window I couldn’t reach. He insisted on doing it, whistling as he set it up. He climbed on it and started to spray. Then he started to sway and in 8/10th of a second, I saw about three different ways he was going to fall and be seriously injured or worse.
The metal plates he placed across the top started to give, but thank God, he regained his balance and the plates held. As if nothing happened, he calmly explained that he most likely put the plates on wrong.
My heart didn’t settle for an hour.
When we shared the visual with the kids later it was our son who pointed my side of the story out, “That’s classic anxiety.”
It took me decades, like until very recently and I just turned 50, to realize anxiety has been intertwined into my life for as long as I can remember. Nights before art class I used to stay up thinking through the scenarios because the teacher would call me out when my project was a dud. When my electronic alarm went off and I pushed the button to get the snooze on zero, I was convinced if I didn’t land on zero the first attempt, it wasn’t going to be a good day.
As a young adult, I was diagnosed with PCOS, polycystic ovaries, and I discerned as a new Christian something wasn’t right with my hormones. Instead of anxiety, it was depression that moved in when I married. I was too ashamed to seek help and assumed this was my lot in life. It was a hard, dark time.
I’ve been on medicine for the imbalance for over ten years. I regret not seeking help sooner, and I’ve learned to be a lot more honest with how I’m feeling. Still, I completely missed the role anxiety has played.
It was when I had another hormonal upheaval that I saw a glimpse. We were attending a community event that was very busy. Parking spaces were gone and folks were parking on the side of a road, a steep incline with no railing. When my husband attempted to park, I grabbed the door handle and begged him not to park there. I was convinced we were going to drive off the road and plunge to our deaths. When he finally did park, it was still a place I envisioned danger, and it robbed me of enjoying the event, something I suggested we do as a family. Once I had a hysterectomy, I felt so great that I assumed these situations were in my rearview mirror.
Until we moved into our new house. Humidity is a trigger for my hormones and we moved during the thickest of humidity and hottest of days. The garage was full of boxes and I remember our daughter asked me a question. It wasn’t a hard question as I recall, but I looked at her and felt my heart race. My breathing accelerated so fast I panicked thinking I would never catch my breath. I was terrified. It happened twice that weekend, and only later did I understand they were panic attacks.
I like feeling like I’m in control, and that felt woefully out of control.
Here I am, present day. I praise God that when the pandemic hit, I was not in emotional distress. I felt God in control and I suppose as an introvert, I was able to thrive in the stay-at-home conditions. Yet, I have an event coming up that on the world’s scale of stressful is probably a -5. I’ve buzzed through multiple scenarios that the event fails, is miserable, a disaster, and that I will run, freeze, overreact, get sassy, or burst into tears. There isn’t one positive picture I have, and I physically get worked up when others talk about it. I want to focus on the good, but my mind jumps off the cliff.
I don’t know when anxiety is going to hit. Here’s what I do know: I’m a work in progress. God is full of grace. I’m not where I was 20 years ago. I’m not where I was 2 years ago. God uses flawed people. Heaven is perfect and depression and anxiety don’t define me now, nor will they have access to me in eternity.—Julie Arduini
Do you relate to any of what I’ve shared above? If so, if you have a personal relationship to Jesus, your eternity carries the same promises.
Although I’m upfront about being on prescription medication, I take vitamins/supplements that I find helpful. I try to drink more water. I find when I’m dehydrated, it affects me. I made fun of it for the longest time, but I started yoga last year for my back. I found the breathing techniques were getting me through stressful times. Just today we went on a day trip that included my husband tackling traffic in Cleveland. This usually has me holding on to the door handle with eyes closed. I caught myself taking deep breaths. It is calming for me.
But the biggest helps are because of Jesus. The last couple years I’ve learned to lament and I just lay it out, as messy as it is, I get it out of me and lay it at His feet. I don’t just verbally share, I picture telling Jesus everything and presenting all the anxious thoughts at His feet.
I dig in His word. There are so many verses to help. How deeply God cares. I lean on His words and work at transforming my thoughts. Am I perfect? No, even with this event I know I haven’t given Him the situation and trusted Him in it. But that’s my next move.
Again, I feel like I’ve shared before, yet something keeps tugging on me that I was meant to write about my husband teetering on that ladder and my less than faithful reaction.
There’s no shame in struggling.
But there’s no sense in going through it alone.