When you deal with something for months on end and life doesn’t stop because you still have to be a wife & mom, you still have to work, you still have to clean house and do laundry and try to appear normal to everyone around you, you find a way to cope. It doesn’t mean you are better or that your anxiety is gone, it just means you have to survive. You put yourself on the back burner so no one else gets put back there.
And sometimes, you can do a pretty good job of faking it. And that’s what I did for about 7 months. Until an ingrown toe nail turned my life upside down again.
I’m laughing as I type this. It’s funny how God used something so small to help me in such a big way. A tiny little ingrown toe nail is nothing, right? Right. Unless you have anxiety and panic attacks. And then it is a nightmare. But I let it go too far because I was scared of the dr and the medicine and getting it cut out. Only now it was infected and I was scared it would get in my blood stream, so I had to go. It got cut out, and I started antibiotics. To which I had a bad reaction to and found out I could no longer take sulfa drugs. Also, a nightmare for an anxious person. Then it got infected yet again. And this time the Dr was afraid the bone was infected and I would have to have surgery. WHAT???? The nightmare continues. So I get scheduled for an MRI. Never knowing that a certain MRI technician would be the answer to a prayer I hadn’t even prayed.
I remember I was so nervous. I didn’t even have to be put all the way in the MRI machine, just my foot! But I could feel the anxiety rising to the surface. By the time he was ready to do the contrast, I had a panic attack, right there in front of this complete stranger. I was horrified, but I couldn’t stop the tears or the shaking. But I’ll never forget what he asked me. He said, “Are you a Christian?” And I told him yes. He said, “Do you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks?” Yesss….. He said, “Can I tell you my story? I was in medical school to be a Dr and I started having them. I got them so bad that it almost destroyed my life. I quit medical school because every time we went over a medical condition, I would sit at home that night and think I had it. I struggled with it for a long time. It is horrible and it seems hopeless. And you think no one can help you and that you will never be better. But can I tell you something? There is hope. There is a way out. I’m gonna write some stuff down and give it to you later. Is that ok?” I just nodded and I finally calmed down enough to finish the MRI. When I got out, my mama handed me a yellow sticky note. This is what it said:
Memorize these verses….hide them in your heart. God is your deliverer. There is light at the end of this tunnel & Jesus Christ is His name. I am living proof. -JEY
He had verses on there as well, and I have never forgotten. I still have that sticky note in my purse. And I keep it as a reminder that there is always hope. God is always there. Even in the darkness of anxiety.
I did exactly what he said. I memorized those verses and I added more to the list. And I carried that list everywhere and I would say them over and over every day for months. And I finally started seeing more light. There were times that I thought I was actually coming to the end of the tunnel.
And then one night out of nowhere, exactly a year to the date that my son was born, I got a call that my aunt had suddenly passed away. And I could feel that light slipping away as I went farther back into the tunnel. There was peace and comfort through the whole ordeal. I could feel God surrounding our family and He truly helped us through it. But when life settled down again, my anxious thoughts were back. What if the heart attack was genetic and I died the same way? Every pain or discomfort once again brought back thoughts that I was dying. The fear took over once more and I got to the breaking point. I thought I was losing it. And I was scared about what was going to happen to me. What would happen if I never got better? How could I live like this forever? Why would God let this happen when I thought I was finally getting better? I just couldn’t understand.
(Side note here: It’s amazing looking back. Those verses I had memorized helped someone during that time. This person was in shock and couldn’t calm down and nothing else anyone was doing was helping. I got those verses out of my purse and made that person read them. Over and over, until they calmed down. NEVER dismiss the power of God’s word!!)
Months passed and I finally got so upset and to the point that I couldn’t go on, that I told my husband that I was going in our bedroom. I needed some time alone so I asked him to watch the kids and not let anyone disturb me. He kind of looked at me weird, but he did as I asked.
I took my Bible and I got on my knees and I just started crying. I couldn’t pray. I had prayed every way I knew how to. I had asked to be better in every way I could. And the only words that would come were the words that changed my life: “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do anymore, Lord. I just don’t know what to do.”
Rocking back and forth on my knees, with tears streaming down my face, I said those words over and over and over again….