Sometimes my thoughts feel like they are going to dissolve my entire mind. I worry, stress, overreact, and plan for the worst in the most detailed way. But the anxiety is all inside, and only Jeremy knows the whirlwind going on inside my head. For example, my boss once told me I seemed “calm” in the face of yelling residents and potential lawsuits. That’s because I try my best to stay calm on the outside because that’s how I want to be on the inside too. But the worry doesn’t just involve my mind, it’s my whole body. Sweating, a constantly pounding heart like I just finished running more than I can manage, along with a little bit of shakiness.
I am not like this all the time, though. But I do go through spells where the mean reds feel like they’ll last for forever. When I was a nanny I remember lying on the floor as the little baby crawled around me on the worn carpet, and just letting the tears fall because “is this ever going to end?” I called Jeremy and he assured me that it would, but it sure didn’t feel like it. But it always does end – even if it comes back again.
I think I’ve always had this. I remember in 7th grade, a boy asked me what I do for fun. Between violin lessons and church, I didn’t have a lot of down time. But I told him when I had nothing to do I would “think.” Looking back, that was a little strange. But the funny thing is that it’s true. I thought it was normal – I mean, how can you compare your thoughts with someone else’s? I think my mind has always been on hyper drive, and it just didn’t explode into what I experience now until I went on a mission. (See this post for more details on that.)
I’m on the same prescription I’ve been on for the past year and a half. But only just so – my new GP here in California didn’t want to prescribe it, which was annoying and terrifying. She kept telling me to use meditation and stress management skills. Guess what? I’ve tried those and they are very, very, VERY difficult.
Being in the middle of a worry spell and not being able to calm yourself down freaks you out more, because now somehow it’s your fault that you feel like this because you can’t manage your own body. It makes you feel like a failure. Also, have you every meditated? Like really meditated? It’s like you are Holding a mirror in front of you, and you are looking into your very soul. That is not an easy task. You have to deal with the doubts and feelings and regrets and shame that is tucked away in there. That’s why I sometimes cry when I meditate, or I make funny faces (making the teacher point me out in class, asking me in front of the class why I looked like I was not enjoying the 5 minute meditation – cus it sucked, that’s why!). So on top of being anxious, meditation has the ability to ask you “why are you so worried about __? Is it because you are afraid of failing, which would make you unworthy of love? What are all the other times in your life when you’ve thought about that? I will replay them for you.” Sounds awful, because it often is. In a way, meditation is like a therapy session, which is great. But maybe not the most desired thing (although possibly helpful) when you are on the verge of an anxiety attack. Meditation isn’t always like that for me, but it often times is.
Such techniques being hard does NOT mean that I am a pansy, and am relying on drugs to live a normal life. It means that my reality is different from that of other people, and that’s okay. My world is different than yours. I experience the world in a different way than other people, and medicine helps me not have a freaking heart attack, or worry myself into a pile of tears and trembling, heaped on our cheap linoleum floor because I haven’t slept in six months and just can’t get yelled at by another resident.
I have prayed many times, and have had multiple priesthood blessings, in hopes of making my anxiety go away. But it never does. This is new for me – for the past 3 years, I get what I want. God grants me thing I don’t need but want, and tender mercies float around me like little fairies whispering “you are loved.” But not with anxiety. My anxiety seems to be the topic that He ignores, that He will not address – I don’t even receive a feeling of comfort on the subject. Kneeling on the side of my bed, I feel completely alone.
I have struggled with this. Why won’t you heal me? We sat in sacrament meeting at church and I had been wondering this same question. Jeremy and I sat directly in line with the pulpit, in the middle of the chapel. A new member had just been baptized that weekend, and after his confirmation he was invited up to the pulpit to share his testimony. Within a minute of standing there, he had a seizure. No one knew what was happening because he yelled and crouched down with his hands up. Luckily his family was there for the special day, and a woman in the congregation stood up and yelled “seizure!” and came up to the stand to help him. As they called for an ambulance, I sat there with my face in my hands and cried. “Why do you do this to people? Why won’t you heal him either?”
Then we went to primary, and one of the women in the primary presidency got up in front of all the kids. She talked about what happened in sacrament meeting, and she explained that sometimes we have problems just so we can help other people with those same problems, so we know how they feel. I felt the spirit come over me – sometimes we get sick and stay sick so we can help people, connect with them, and help people the way Christ helps people. Hard things like anxiety or seizures gives us a diverse background so that we can connect with other people. In conference last weekend there was a talk that explained that “not all infirmities will be healed.” I have faith my anxiety will be healed in the resurrection, but right now it seems to be staying. And part of the reason for that is so i can help other people.