Tuesday, September 8

Running a Mental Marathon


This is a word I have grown to know all too well in my adult life. At 19 I was diagnosed with GAD, general anxiety disorder. I used to suffer debilitating anxiety-turned-panic-attacks that would land me in the hospital receiving a large dose of a magical injection in the rear. It has been years since an episode of panic has wrecked havoc in my life and I give full credit to God for that.

Over the past couple of months this demon monster has begun creeping its way back into my life and body. I'll startle awake in the middle of the night and find myself unable to turn off my mind and release the unbearable tension in my body. I will pray, read scriptures, sing worship songs in my head, envision a protective angel sitting over me blinding my thoughts and anxieties into oblivion... You name it, I've tried it.

When this new school year started I was energized and filled with a renewed passion and love for teaching. The first day of school was a frenzied blur but I left the building smiling and returned with a genuine smile the next day.  That is when things started to shift. Knock after repeated knock on my door brought floods of new students into my classroom bringing the numbers over the state limit of 22 and taking my sanity with it. By Friday I had to take a minute to lock myself in the faculty bathroom to just let the tears flow. The instant the door shut my face was covered in tears, my breath had been stolen from me and my heart was beating out of my chest. Panic. Utter helplessness took over.

Pray Nicki. My mind just barely able to form the thought, but more likely God whispering through the cloud of darkness, I was able to stop and pray and through God's provision, make it through the rest of the day. 

Monday rolled around and I showed up to work restored and ready to take on the 25 five year olds that awaited me with love and compassion. Through constant deep breaths, positive self talk and more prayers than I can count, the school day concluded and I was making my way back home.

On the drive home a sense of unease and overall ickiness began to take over. By the time I walked in the front door I felt as if I had the flu. Barely making it to the bathroom I began to lose the content of my stomach and instantly realized that I hadn't had a sip of water the entire day. After getting some fluids in me, everything came back up, only something wasn't right. It looked like coffee grounds and tasted like copper.  6 hours and a trip to the emergency room later, we discovered that I had thrown up blood and I was referred to a specialist with a general diagnosis of bleeding ulcers and gastritis.

You'd think all of that would warrant a doctor to see you speedy quick, but you'd be wrong.  I still have two weeks before I can be seen... Medicine and time off to rest and recover have helped the stomach pains to ease but it will be some time before we know what is actually going on.

Through all of this I've been battling GI issues along with eczema on my hand, elbow and eyelids. Yeah, my eyelids (what in the world?!) All stress/anxiety related. And I know what you're thinking, because, duh!

Stop stressing Nick! Give it to God. Don't you trust Him? Don't you read the bible? He COMMANDS you not to worry! Gosh, just LET IT GOOOOOO! (Insert song lyrics that won't leave my head... You know you do it too).

Well, gee, if it were only that easy. The chemical make up of my body vs the knowledge and desire I have to give it all to God battle it out every second of every day the monster is with me.

I struggle with feeling like a fake - I'm a Christian but I struggle with anxiety. I feel like a failure. Sometimes I just stop feeling. It's a battle you'll never understand unless you've lived it.

My dad struggled with very similar things and it robbed him of his life. I refuse to be a victim, but I am also wise enough and cautious enough to know when I need help.

It is 4:55 am, my alarm is set to go off in 25 minutes and I've been up since 1:15. I keep picturing my fatigued brain, exhausting itself on a treadmill running at a pace that it just can't handle with no way to turn the dial down. It sees God's embrace and open arms just beyond the bars but is hopelessly trapped in the marathon that doesn't end.

I know this is temporary and that God is stronger, bigger and mightier than this monster called anxiety. He will be triumphant and I will be shouting of His mercy and goodness even as I wait for His victory over it.

Friends, I don't tell you all of this to gain pity or sympathy. We all have mountains in front of us, don't we? I share this with you in hopes that it would shed some light on who I am. Demons and all. Anxiety is a very real thing that can lead to very real pain and suffering. I am a Christ follower, a believer, and I still suffer from it. It doesn't make me a fake, it doesn't make me ashamed. It's my reality, but I am thankful that it is not forever. I am thankful that my God is bigger.

I want thank you all for your prayers and love as I continue to walk through this journey. I am immeasurably blessed by each word that is lifted up to God on my behalf.  If you know someone who suffers from anxiety, just give them a quick hug and tell them you love them. If you suffer the same, I love you deeply and want you to rest in knowing that you're not alone and you are so precious to God. He will be triumphant over this. And through it all, it is well!