My morning started off badly before I even went to bed last night. I accidentally took a 2nd blood pressure pill before going to bed instead of the prescription that I was supposed to take. So I pulled a dummy move and looked up online some of the side effects of accidentally taking too much of my medication. Looking on message boards and websites with other non-professional information regarding one’s health is never the smart thing to do. What I found out was that I should expect anything from no bad side effects at all to seizures and congestive heart failure. I also learned that drdaddy08 is not really a medical doctor.
Since I am writing this morning, I am obviously okay. If I had congestive heart failure, I must have slept right through it. But once I woke up, I was groggier than normal (which I wasn’t aware was possible). This aggravation was compounded by being met first thing wet bed sheets (not my own), a lovely pair of large pimples on my face, a crying baby, and a glaring reminder of my own inadequacies as nobody in my house could find clean clothes as they tried to get ready for work and school. This resulted in three laundry baskets of clean clothes being strewn all over the floor as we picked through them to locate underwear, matching socks, and clean khaki pants. And this was all within the first 20 minutes of being awake. Special thanks to the husband for folding half of them after things calmed down. I promise they will be folded and put away accordingly by the time you get home.
So this is where it gets especially ugly. Son #1 left for school, my husband left for work as did my sister that is currently living in our basement. Son #2 was back asleep again. I was alone (trigger #1). I was in a high state of anxiety (trigger #2). I was starving because in the mad rush of the morning, I hadn’t stopped to eat breakfast (trigger #3). I had finished several things that needed to be done and was looking to just sit down and relax for a few minutes (trigger #4).
I bypassed the steel cut oatmeal. I turned my nose up at the delicious Honeycrisp apples that I bought yesterday. I pushed the almonds, blueberries, eggs, and whole grain anything to the side.
I fried some potatoes. I fried them in vegetable oil. I put salt and pepper on them and when they were done I topped them with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. And then I sat on the living room floor surrounded by unmatched socks and ate the entire bowl as I watched half an episode of On the Case with Paula Zahn. And when I was done, I cried. I cried because I felt gross and fat. I cried because I felt guilty. I cried because I was bored with the everyday routine. I even cried because I felt so pathetic for crying. And when I was all done crying, I didn’t feel any better. Whoever said, “all you need is a good cry” doesn’t know me very well. Now, on top of all of my other issues, my eyes look like I just went 10 rounds with Rocky Balboa.
Then, after my firestorm of emotions had subsided, it hit me that I usually start my day in prayer. Even if it’s just a quick one, I try to make sure that as I start my day I am at least asking God to be a part of it. This morning I didn’t. This morning I invited chaos into my day by letting the first thing I acknowledged be myself. My anxiety started off as a small flame and eventually grew into an overdramatic, irrational forest fire, and it could have been extinguished in the beginning had I remembered that while I do have responsibilities, ultimately I am not in control, God is. So I reminded myself that the worst thing I can do is to wallow in self pity. I needed to refocus and redirect my energy outward.
Whether you are talking about stressing about an unpaid bill or whether you are talking about a full fledged “I’m having a heart attack right now” panic attack, anxiety left to control us however it wants will wreck your life every time. It plays a serious role in not only making us fat and unhappy, but it also can make us generally unhealthy, exhausted, worried, and fearful. It’s a cancer that, if left unchecked, will isolate you from people outside of your own little world, thus compounding your problems.
I went through a period in my life when I was riddled with anxiety. I took one medication regularly and one medication as needed whenever a panic attack arose. I made at least two trips to the Emergency Room with physical symptoms of serious illnesses that turned out to be just brought on by anxiety. Looking back at that period, I do believe that those medications were necessary to get me back to a good place, so don’t think that I am teaching against all medical intervention. But I also can see the poor spiritual and mental habits that I had that kept me from having peace in the first place.
I didn’t realize it then, but I was what I would now refer to as a closet control freak. I didn’t really push my way on other people (because I was too passive), but internally I could stew and obsess about how people were “doing it wrong” or going to mess things up. I’d let it stress me out but I wouldn’t speak my opinions. That inner turmoil contributed greatly to a general state of anxiousness.
Because of my passivity and a fear of people not liking me, I often found myself overextended and tired. I didn’t know how to say no. At one point in my career, I was managing a group home of sometimes physically violent adults with one other full time staff member. I worked (on average) about 65 hours a week, I got my butt kicked a few times, and I allowed lazy staff to stay employed for way too long. In the midst of all of this, I was asked if I could act as a temporary area manager for 5 other group homes. It would require a lot more work and included no additional financial compensation since I was a salaried employee. I said yes.
I was single and terrified that I would end up an old maid. I was a poor money manager and worried all of the time about how next month’s rent would be paid. Even though I made a good show of going to church, I never opened my Bible, hardly ever prayed, and definitely had no concept of allowing God to order my days. I slept poorly and I ate poorly. I was running on fumes and had nothing real and substantial to refuel me. So my body and my brain revolted.
How we handle our anxiety is a direct reflection on where we are placing our trust.
Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
1 Peter 5:6,7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Psalms 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
And I could easily keep listing verse after verse that says the same thing. Give your worry to Him. Trust that He has your best interest in mind. He has the power to change your life. Honestly, your life is not your own to begin with. These are deep spiritual concepts that take a lot of faith and trust to put into practice but once you do, the results are worth it.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When I learned to put more trust in God and less trust in my own abilities or in the abilities of other people, that took care of my control problem. I began to care less what other people thought of me. I worked less and hung out with other Godly people more, leading me to meet a Godly husband. I slowly began to manage my money better. I prayed and studied more. I slept more.…I just generally lived a healthier life style. Before I knew it, my medication was gone and so were my anxiety attacks.
Today I will occasionally be lying in bed at night and get a twinge of what could be a panic attack coming on. I take a few deep breaths, pray, and remind myself that it will be okay, and before I know it, I usually fall asleep without any further escalation.
I am obviously not perfect when it comes to controlling my emotions (hence my crying fit this morning), but I am no longer OUT of control either. If I start drifting off, I have the ability to pull it back in fairly quickly. And recognizing the problem was the first step in fixing it.
Looking back on the progress I’ve made in this area over my life is encouraging to me. Now, I have recognized that my emotional crutch these days is food. The next step is to keep on working at fixing it. Life is a continual journey in self improvement. Hopefully this time will be much easier knowing that I am not in it alone.
“For I hold you by your right hand--
I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” - Isaiah 41:13