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For many months now, I have felt the need to begin sharing my experiences this past year in battling anxiety. But, being someone who has anxiety, I felt too anxious about it and couldn’t find the courage to put something so personal out there for anyone to see. As the months have ticked by, the feeling to share has become more intense. After all, I’m already a blogger and writing posts isn’t something that is difficult for me. But I wondered why anyone would care to read it anyway?
Then I remembered how lonely I felt sometimes. How I longed for someone that could somehow relate to and understand what I was dealing with. Maybe there is one person out there who would benefit from me sharing my struggles, and that one person would make it worth it to me. So, I’m setting my foot on a new path. Each month, I will share something- an experience, a thought, some insight, or even an uplifting quote or scripture that helped me through my rough patches. But first, I need to share how this journey began.
In January of 2013, I started to have trouble sleeping. I was restless, weighed down, and had a constant pit in my stomach. Unfortunately, I had been dealing with it for months, and, upon reflection, even years. About six months before that, I had been watching a therapist on a local morning show discuss 5 symptoms of anxiety. He mentioned that if you have even just one or two of the symptoms, you may want to seek some sort of counseling. I had four. But, I didn’t do anything about it. I thought I was fine, that I could handle it on my own. One cold January night, my 11 month old woke up in the middle of the night. I went to his room and began rocking him to sleep. For some reason, he was inconsolable, despite my best efforts. Finally, he calmed down.
However, I began feeling an all too familiar pit in my stomach and fear seeping into my heart. Something about the crying baby mixed with the inky blackness of the night had stirred up something. It certainly wasn’t the first time I felt that way. I took my son to my room, hoping to get him to sleep while quelling the rising feeling of despair. I desperately hoped it would work. I went in and out of sleep for a time. Every time I awoke, the despair was stronger. The fear was greater. Before long, I felt blackness, dread, and my body began to physically react to the fear. Uh oh. Not again! I thought.
Past experiences began creeping into my memory. I fought back tears, hoping that singing hymns and saying a prayer would help. But, I had let it go too far. I had let my thoughts take me down roads I didn’t want to go. That’s how it always started for me. A little nugget of fear would take hold, and my overactive imagination would play it out via several different scenarios. Each time, the situations would become uglier, scarier, eventually focusing on the most horrible aspects of my deepest fears. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and I woke up my husband. I needed his help.
I was bathed in fear so strongly that reality literally took on a different form. My worst nightmares felt as though they were coming true. I yelled, I screamed, I cried and finally begged for it end. My heart raced, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t form a coherent thought because I was so consumed by blackness and fear. I won’t share the specifics of my fears and things that happened, because they are too personal to share in a setting like this, but it was definitely the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. It finally did stop.
My husband gave me a Priesthood blessing and I fought to clear the fog in my head. I remembered our Savior and reached out to Him. I grabbed on to what Faith I had and begged Him to bring back the light. I felt a surge of love and hope flow through me following the blessing. I knew the Savior was aware of my fears and my pain, and that He would be there every step of the way. My husband held me for a long time. He put on some soothing music. We turned on the lights, and ultimately found a show to help distract me from the anguish I had felt.
Eventually, I felt some peace return and was able to fall asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I knew the battle had only just begun. It was time to take things seriously about this problem I was having and get some help. We knew then that I definitely had anxiety and that my experience was a full blown Anxiety Attack. Through our Bishop, I found a therapist who was a God send. He was the perfect fit for my situation and I will be forever grateful for all of his help.
As I began to understand myself and what living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder meant, I knew it wouldn’t be a quick fix. For several reasons, I chose not to use any form of medication. The next couple of months were the darkest of my life, and I plan on sharing some of those experiences here. While it has been the hardest year of my life, I have seen miracles and blessings come from the experiences. The Lord was ever mindful of me, just as He is with all of us, and gave me the strength I needed to work through the pain. I would love to hear back from anyone with similar struggles. I hope that we can help each other! It can be lonely battling a mental illness, no matter how many supportive friends and family surround you. It helps to find others who can actually understand. That understanding is so critical and helpful because no one wants to feel alone and misunderstood. We are not alone!! If you would like to download the print I created, grab it here: [wpdm_file id=31] Until next week, here is some inspiration:“We are most blessed when we see ourselves as we are seen by [the Savior] and know ourselves as we are known by Him. In this world, we do not really grasp who we are until we know whose we are. The Lord says, ‘I will not forget you. I have graven you on the palms of my hands’ (see Isaiah 49:15-16). He will never forget us nor our real identity. [And, neither should we ever] forget whose we are. We are His.” –Truman G. Madsen