Matters of the Heart

It's always good to wake up with sunshine, a hot cup of coffee and a ton of hope after a rough patch. I've been experiencing increased anxiety lately, which was discouraging. I couldn't understand why in the world I would have a heart rate of 195 bpm. This started about 6 weeks ago. My heart would spin out of control and I was so confused. We had so much excitement with buying our new home, moving and settling in. The place is perfect for what I need it for. No more lawn care, no more getting stranded up on that mountain for days because plows couldn't even bust through the 5 ft snowdrifts. So why in the world would I be scared or anxious? I should be overjoyed and calmer than a clam here. It just didn't make sense. So in my little anxiety-ridden noggin, my first thoughts went to "It has to be something physically wrong with me." I had the case of "health anxiety"---another term for hypochondria. Guess they're getting a little more sensitive and PC about certain labels. It is what it is.

Is It Anxiety Or Something Physical? 

After a million and one tests---I mean, ever single test imaginable to rule out heart issues, hypothyroidism and menopause, I was left with educated guesses by all 5 of my doctors. Yep, you read that correctly. What I want to share with you is very personal. Since my anxiety has quadrupled this past few months, there are days when I literally cannot drive---wait let's get honest---should not drive. My heart rate has gotten to the point where I have passed out twice on two separate occasions. It was concerning for my doctors, so a while ago, they sent me to the ER to get my head checked (in various ways.) Clean bill of health, thank you God. But the days when it gets really bad for me, I have what's called a mental health peer. I have a gentleman who comes over to either talk with me if I'm having a crisis, or he will drive me to doctor appointments, therapy appointments and even sit and wait for me while I'm in the ER (if I have to go.) It's a free service that the state pays for in order to help those who are suffering with any debilitating condition. Anxiety is a "condition" just as any other disability.

Yesterday afternoon, after my peer dropped me off after a doctor's follow up, I came home feeling really down. And what I realized was, I haven't really cried since I moved here. I haven't prayed as dedicated as I used to. I haven't purged my feelings at all. I thought that if I did, maybe my wife would think I was unhappy here---which is totally not the case. So I remained calm, thinking that's how I should be. If I lose control over my emotions, then my heart rate will sky rocket and I'll be a mess. That was my mistake.

Cry It Out!

When I got home, I grabbed some cold water and Kleenex and had a good cry. I let it all out. It was cathartic. I prayed and prayed, while tears were streaming down my cheek. "Why am I so anxious? Why can't I live my life like I wanted to?" All these questions that I was asking God had an answer. Minutes after my long crying session, my heart rate went from 140 down to 80....and after that, finally back down to my normal resting rate which is always 70 bpm. I was literally stumped. This is what it takes to make me less anxious? I guess it's true when they say if you bottle up your emotions, it'll resurface in some way or another.

Why was I crying?

My therapist sat me down and said, "This entire move has triggered your bereavement. It's a natural process and huge adjustment." And when I thought back to last night, while picking up a beautiful picture we had hanging up in the old house, I started to get a lump in my throat, thinking, "I've stared at this picture while having breakfast every morning before work in my childhood home." I fought the tears, but they were really tough to hold back. So is there a link between my old house and the new house---meaning, am I "homesick?" Of course those "memories" on Facebook pop up, showing my house with the million dollar view. I never got sick of looking at it. It always had a different look to it with each hour---how the sun set on the mountains, or how the lake glistened in the midday sun, and it was truly amazing to see a storm rolling through the valleys beneath me. But I have to remember I was very sad there. It was where both mom and dad suffered the end of their lives there. Every stone, brick, piece of wood that held a room together had mom's face on it. Even the sight of the outside and grill had dad's smile on it. He always loved to grill and hang outside with us. Every corner of that house pulled on my heart so strong that I could no longer take it. This is why I moved.

My point: CRY it OUT. LET it OUT. Do not hold onto bottled up emotions. It's so unhealthy. I had no clue that's what I was doing. Crying also releases hormones that make us feel bad, which is why some people say, "Oh I had a good cry and feel better now." There's a science to it. As I sit here in the early hours on a Thursday morning, I am enjoying a huge cup of coffee and not feeling any of the negative effects. I went off it for a couple of days due to my rapid heart rate, and ended up with a huge migraine.

Unsolicited Advice

Having some sort of mental health issue like anxiety or depression, it can be frustrating when someone you love gives you advice. "You need the right medication," or "It's just anxiety, stop it!" These are things you should never say to someone who has anxiety. Yes, we know it's anxiety, but you can't go playing doctor with people who are suffering. I don't believe in antidepressants. It not only puts on weight for many people, but it numbs your empathetic part of your brain---making you less sensitive to the world. I don't want to walk around like a zombie not feeling every emotion. I don't want to 'turn off' my empathy or hesitate when someone else needs help. I'm not saying all people do that, but sometimes, these medications make you less aware, less sensitive--which is basically the whole point. I believe in natural remedies, therapy, CBT and CBD oils. I believe in natural remedies like oregano oils and magnesium to help regulate my anxiety symptoms. But if I'm having a panic attack, and rightfully so because I've been uprooted from my childhood home into a new surrounding, give me some slack. Don't tell me "You need to do this." or "You need to do that," unless it's natural or advice coming from a genuine heart. Some people get sick and tired of hearing about someone's anxiety. "Ugh, she had a panic attack again, she needs meds!" Now, I just don't tell anyone about my anxiety (except for you guys) and my doctors who help me. Sometimes unsolicited advice can be more harmful than a slap in the face.

When It Feels Like God Isn't Listening

When you feel hopeless, like nothing in the world is going to help anymore, remember that God is right there with you. I cried my eyes out, telling God, "I just give up! Please just take me home. I don't want to live this way." I felt Him all around me. I cried harder, as my heart rate slowed down. Then moments later, someone sent me this photo.

I have to keep in mind that God is in control. Whether or not it's my time to go, He is the one to decide. It's something we really shouldn't be afraid of if we have faith. He also put on a song with lyrics that said, "God isn't done with you," and then more tears came pouring out. As some of you know, I have a ton of notebooks that have my prayers on it, as well as all of God's answers on it. I plan on turning into a book soon. The answers are unlike anything I've experienced before. Throughout this entire process, He has been there for me. I prayed for what I have right now. He has given me something better, and I guess that comes with a little struggle---some growing pains---some patience and a lot of tears. But the tears don't mean that I'm sad about what I have, they're only shedding past emotions and heartfelt love for the blessings He gave me in the past. And now, it's a new chapter with new blessings. I can do all things through Christ---and I have to keep reminding myself. He's the great physician, He's my father, my friend, my Savior. So when fear straight up lies to you, just say, "Not today, Satan...not today." Resist the devil upon his onset and he will flee. New level, new devil. We are always going to experience some sort of conflict with any chapter of our lives. Life isn't perfect, or meant to be joy-joy-joy 24/7, or we wouldn't need God. And the struggles we face only make us stronger.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us---they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectations of salvation."---Romans 5:3-4

"Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory." ---Psalm 50:15

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" ---Psalm 46:1-3

If you ever find yourself in a crisis and need to reach out, send me a message. I will send you resources that can truly help when you have no one else to turn to. Depending on where you live, some of these serves are absolutely free.

Please be kind to people, because you truly never know what they may be going through. Don't mock them for having anxiety or say that "it's all in your head," because that's hurtful. We already know it's our minds that are making us struggle. It's like telling someone, "Hey, you should lose weight,"---don't you think they already know that? It's redundant and unnecessary. Saying things people already know leads me to believe that the person saying it has ill intentions. I don't go for the 'tough love' tactic when somebody is truly hurting. I'm finding there's little to no compassion in this world. And when you do find someone who is just as compassionate as you are, hold onto them and thank God for bringing them into your life.

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