Monday, March 21, 2011

Finding God in the Panic

A few days ago marked an anniversary for me. Nothing to be celebrated...but a day that marked 10 years of having panic attacks. A whole decade. If you've not experienced a panic attack then be thankful. If you have, then you know where I'm coming from and I am so sorry you know this pain.

For years, I have been trying to find a root cause...
- too much caffeine
- too much sugar
- not praying enough
- too much going on in my life
...and the list goes on and on. But after 10 years of searching, I still have not found one magic answer that has relieved me of this thorn. A crippling thorn which prevents me from being the mom I want to be and the person I know I could be.

Sometimes, I manage to go for awhile without having one. The days become routine and I start to feel like I have a life. And then one day, without warning, the fear grips me...I know this is it...my last minutes on earth and there is nothing I can do about it. It would seem that after facing this for a decade now, I would know, know that this is just a feeling not a reality but these feelings are irrational, not to be talked away with rational words. And then for weeks, I struggle to maintain control in the face of constant stress and panic but an attempt to control a panic attack is like attempting to control the tide.

But the message I give today is one of hope. After a very difficult, panic-plagued month, I found a bridge to a less panicked day. Not a cure for panic attacks, but a way of dealing with a painful thorn. A combination of three things that helped me out of a pit of despair...

1. Sunshine/Fresh air... with the winter months, I neglected something that is so vital to creation. As I crept out of the cocoon of our warm, cozy house and began to spend time out of doors, I saw a dramatic decrease in my attacks.

2. Do something (especially for someone else)... if it were an option, I would hit the bed at the first sign of anxiety but that is not my life right now, so I would sit quietly and suffer through the storm. But what I have found is that if I can get myself moving, give to someone else, do for someone else, I am able to leave the storm and move past the destruction.

3. Give thanks... In the book, "One Thousand Gifts" the author talks about the "hard thanks." Giving thanks for those things we wouldn't really consider gifts - pain, destruction, illness and death. Could I really give thanks for a panic attack? Ummm...the answer to that would be NO. But what I did realize is that each panic attack brought me to God, praying, praying hard. And that brought me to thanksgiving... thankful that with each panic attack I turned to God, relied on Him. At first, relied on Him to take away the panic attacks but now I see that He was waiting for me to give the "hard thanks." Thanks for a pain that would bring me closer to Him. That even in the pain, God could make the blessing if I would but thank Him for the opportunity.

Are my days of panic attacks over? Unfortunately not. But I pray that if you do suffer from panic attacks that these things may bring you comfort. That these things may bless you as I have been blessed!!!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Blessings!!!
theresesophia

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