Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Anxiety & Panic Takes Over

Do you feel alone because you suffer from anxiety? Anxiety can make you feel like you’re the only one experiencing it, when actually, anxiety is the most common thing in the world. Some people smile through it, while others choose to use avoidance to cope. The one thing I noticed about dealing with severe anxiety is that once I focus on God completely — entirely focused on God Himself — I find myself less anxious. As soon as I feel it coming on, I sit down and take about 15 deep breaths. I had to work my way from 5 to now, 15. Mindful breathing is like throwing water onto the fire. And even though I may feel a bit calmer, I need MORE. I need to meditate and focus on God — even if my prayer is just saying His name, the meditation on Him changes the atmosphere in my home. I no longer feel the dread, the highly alert mania that somehow creeps in — all I feel is like someone is sitting there with me helping me through. I go through the promises of God if I don’t feel that euphoric sense that He is here. And He is, but sometimes, the anxiety can make me become blind to the blessings that God has in store for me. I sometimes use what's called a "singing bowl" to bring my thoughts back into focus and onto God. It truly helps. The sounds and vibrations help relieve the feelings of anxiety and fear and it also cleanses your meditation area. Singing bowls have been used in many religious practices, especially before Christian services.

Another thing that helps me deal with coping with anxiety is focusing on the promises of God. I'm going to share some of my favorite promises with you.

I command you--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. --Joshua 1:9

Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. --Psalm 55:22

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. --1 Peter 5-7

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 6:6-7

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. --Isaiah 43:2

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever. --Psalm 16:8-11

The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him sincerely. --Psalm 145:18

The Lord is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The Lord protects me from danger--so why should I tremble? --Psalm 27:1

I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. --Philippians 4:13

He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. --Isaiah 40:29-31

I have these scriptures written down in a notebook to remind me every single day that God is with me. I'm not alone. You're not alone. Some ask, "So why do I feel so lonely?" I used to feel that way too, but then realized that I still felt lonely even while surrounded by other people. Anxiety can make you feel isolated, even when there are people around you all the time. It's a very lonely place and it's a place that nobody wants to admit they attend frequently. Anxiety and depression have become such a stigma -- it's become "shameful" or seen as "crazy" to have. I even had someone roll their eyes at me because I couldn't attend a function with them. "Oh it's her anxiety again," as they shook their heads as if it was nonsense. Never let somebody make you feel that way. You'd be surprised that these very people have similar issues, but cope in different ways. They use this psychological projection, mocking your anxiety, all the while dealing with theirs in destructive ways, such as drinking too much or doing drugs. They're numb to it, but eventually, those aides won't last for long. They're going to sober up one day and realize that their anxiety was there all along.

Anxiety never goes away. Fear never goes away. The only thing that makes it seem livable is instilling courage and coping mechanisms that enable you to overcome the anxiety, especially if it's a chemical imbalance. You can do it naturally, and for some, they can't afford to do it naturally because it doesn't work well for them. Antidepressants for anxiety can trigger anxiety attacks. So make sure you tell your therapist exactly what you have. Of course, anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but if you're like me and mainly suffer from extreme panic and anxiety, an antidepressant will most likely not help you.

Courage leads to heaven, fear leads to death. --Seneca the Younger

"It's okay to let go, Ma."
While reading Anita Moorjani's book, Dying to Be Me, she explained that all of our root problems are stemmed in fear. In fact, while my Mom was ready to take her last breath, and I was going to approach her with my final goodbyes, Anita Moorjani said to me, "Whatever you do -- do not approach her in fear. She can sense that. Approach her and let her know it's OKAY to let go, without your fear of her letting go." Boy this was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but something came over me. My faith that God would be there lifting her up to her new and final home. My faith kicked in and my fear disappeared. I gently caressed her forehead, kissed her as I held her hand and said, "It's okay to let go, Ma -- don't worry, I'm going to be alright." She was so worried I wouldn't be okay without her. I tried to defuse her fear over my fear of living life without her. If you think about it, fear is what kills us. It kills our spirit, it kills our dreams and goals in life, it kills our quality of life, and finally, fear itself can kill us off completely.

As I still struggle and try and cope with anxiety, the tools I have for dealing with it have been much more effective. I'll never forget what my mom said one week before she went to heaven. As I was heading out the door to go to a meeting that was in another town, my agoraphobia started kicking in. She was on the sofa and said, "You ok, Deb?" And I admitted that I was a little nervous taking this trip out. So she turns to me and said, "Just picture me in the passenger seat and I'll be with you in spirit." I started getting all freaked out and said, "Stop that! That's creepy, Ma!" I totally believe her spirit knew she was leaving. I didn't even know she was leaving so soon. I do admit, when I feel scared, I pray to God and I also envision my mom taking that ride with me to whatever scary place it may be. A death of a loved one can really trigger your anxiety and put it into high gear. I find it important for me to separate the grief from the panic. Why am I panicking over the grief? I went through most of the grief stages and sometimes I repeat them all over again. Major life changes are huge factors in triggering panic attacks and depression. When I feel overwhelmed with all of these emotions, I bring it all to God. I haven't been so careful with my words lately, like saying, "I just wanna go home and be with Mom!" I've said that quite a few times. I feel disconnected from everyone which scares the living daylights out of me. So I try and reel it in and let go of it and let God handle it.

If you have any suggestions or coping mechanisms that help you through anxiety attacks, let me know over here on my Facebook page. The comment section is always open. Through my own experience with anxiety and grief, I hope that I helped someone who needed to hear this. Would love to hear from you.

If you're here, then you're here for a reason. Feel better and always reach out!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!