I have a story to tell.
Once upon a time there was a little girl with hardly a care in the world. She felt protected and loved. She didn’t know a stranger and had no fear. She loved Jesus and she felt loved and protected by Him and by her family.
As she grew up, her life was turned upside down several times. Struggles, hardship, and devastation attacked her family. And, with each new turn of events another brick was laid on the wall being built in her heart. By the time she was a teenager, she was determined to protect her heart from more pain. But, as her wall grew taller and thicker, so her troubles grew as well.
She pushed away those that loved her most, God and her family, causing a separation from the ones she needed most.
She fell in love and married. And, while there were newlywed trials, they settled into a life as man and wife.
As most young women do, she began dreaming about the baby she would one day have to love and nurture. Once her husband caught on to the dream as well, she got pregnant with her first precious baby. She looked forward to the birth of her son with great anticipation, imagining the fun they would have together.
Finally, the day came for the special delivery. Ironically, she was filled with fear and dread. She was suddenly overcome with anxiety regarding the pain and the unknown of the life change that was occurring. The baby arrived healthy, alert, and perfect.
Once home and on their own with the new baby, life took a major change once again. The baby was sick. Diagnosis took months. The young mother tried to survive on an average of three hours of sleep a night while working a full-time job. Her husband worked the “grave yard” shift so he was unable to help during the night.
Exhaustion crept in. Sickness over took her. She was overwhelmed with fear for her child’s health. She began to worry about everything. She developed some idiosyncrasies. Before going to bed, she would check the stove burners to be sure they were off. She would check them not once, but three…four…five times. She would do the same with the light switch. Even though she could see that the light was off, she would check the switch over and over. If the baby’s blanket touched the floor, she considered it unusable and threw it in to be washed. She would wash her hands over and over and over.
Even though she new these habits were strange and unnecessary, she couldn’t not do them. She was controlled by them. This continued over the next three years and worsened during her second pregnancy.
Once her second baby was born, the habits continued. But in addition, she was consumed by anxiety and worry. She worried about everything. She worried about diseases attacking her children. She worried about food being tainted. She worried about touching anything because of germs. She worried about car accidents. You name it, she worried about it.
The constant fretting and worrying controlled her mind for the next 14 years. Along with that came illnesses that could never be diagnosed. She never felt “good”.
She tried to hide how miserable she was: sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
It was at this time that everything came to a head. Several major negative incidents took place within a short time of each other and it became more than she could bear.
She dealt with headaches for about two weeks straight. One evening she went home from work and began to feel weak and nauseated. She had been to the ER about three weeks earlier with what they felt was a panic attack. This particular night she suddenly felt unable to do anything…not eat, or cook, or pack lunches. She and her husband thought it was a bug.
However, the wife and mother did not recover. She got worse day after day. She felt her life draining from her. She suffered from nausea, heart palpitations, shortness of breath…her insides felt like they were crawling; she was unable to sit still. As time went on, her face and head began to tingle non-stop. She worried that her tongue would choke her and would wake in the night thinking her teeth were too big for her mouth. She began to wonder if she was going to be able to keep her wits about her.
One week she only slept five hours…all week long. The lack of sleep did not help.
She would beg her husband to tell her she was going to be okay. At times, she would walk over to him in the evening and say, “Will you please pray for me. I can’t live like this. Tell me I’m going to be okay. What is wrong with me?”
Her husband would call her while at work (she could no longer work) because he was so worried that she might do something drastic.
During the long nights she would pace the floor, praying, begging God to deliver her. She would lay awake with the Bible spread over her chest as if to guard her heart from further anxiety. Her life felt like a black hole and she was sinking deeper and deeper in to the hole. She wanted to be “normal” again. She wanted to be able to be a mom again. She saw how her boys looked at her, wondering what could possibly be wrong with their mom.
Dinner time was torturous. She could barely cook their meals. Touching, smelling and feeling the food would make her sick. The thought of food touching her mouth repulsed her. Weight was falling off of her. She kept her doctor’s phone number beside her at all times. She felt absolutely desperate.
Her husband was a true blessing. He stuck beside her through the terrible journey. He was patient and gentle. She could see the very deep concern he felt for his wife. He talked her through the darkest moments, talking her back to reality when she couldn’t find it.
She wanted to scream, “I’m still in here! Inside here is the real me! Love me back to life. Help me find myself!”
That girl, that woman was me. I can only describe the experience as horrific. Yet, looking back, I can see how many things were layered together over the years and finally culminated with my mind and my body saying, “NO MORE!”
I had no control over many things that took place in my life. However, I did have control over how I reacted. Rather than pushing the people who loved me away, and pushing Christ away, I actually needed them. It’s in the difficult times that we need each other…that we need relationships.
Rather than ignoring the habits that I had (which I knew were not normal and not healthy) I should have reached out for help. Instead, I lived with controlling patterns, which most people didn’t know I had (I was pretty good at hiding most of them).
I feel that my constant (and I mean CONSTANT) worrying was my attempt at having some control over my life. But, worry and anxiety actually controlled me, and I had created a literal prison for myself.
Through Spiritual guidance from several family members, prayer, the love of my husband and children, a wonderful physician and counseling, I am now a changed person. I’m not saying worry and anxiety never rear their ugly heads. But, I have been given the tools to tame them, training them to “stay” while I turn and walk away.
God is so good. I am so thankful to Him for my healing; for walking me through that nightmare.
Are you struggling with fear, anxiety, controlling habits…God wants to fully heal you. He did it for me and He can and will do it for you.