Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Y'all, panic isn't afraid of dreams and plans. But I've found that in my weakness, I find a reminder of God's super strength

So it seems another birthday is coming round again soon.  Another one of those I'm a year older than last year kind of days where the kids - the sweet one anyway - tells me that I'm not old.  And husband tells me I'm still beautiful.  And they all last minute like get me a chocolate cake so I don't have to make my own.   

But bigger for me than a birthday, and what I'm celebrating most this year, is the defeat of a monster.  The slaying of my own personal dragon.  The ugly truth I hate to turn into a pet by giving it a name ... Panic.  

Unexpected, uninvited, unwanted panic.  And with it, strange things happen, and in even stranger places..... like getting my son's hair cut.  Or sitting at a restaurant with friends.  Or on vacation.  Or even at work where I super love what I do. 

And I never thought I'd be that person.  But I never thought I'd scrub this many dirty toilets in a lifetime either.   So if I may quote Forrest Gump here, "Life is like a box of chocolates.... you never know what you're gonna get." 

And my box happens to have anxiety.  Not even chocolate covered.

And for a while I was scared to death that panic was gonna be my new normal.  And that I'd become like the proverbial crazy cat lady and have to wear a medical ID bracelet naming my disorder in case I caused a scene in public.  Because panic and anxiety appear out of nowhere - and can surprise any of us.  And when it happens, and until you can convince yourself that you're not in that very moment about to meet your maker, it can be a terrifying, crippling experience - that I could never have understood till it happened to me.

But it's been well over a year now since I got some control over it.  And THAT, my friends, deserves to be recognized and celebrated.  And spoken out loud because someone just may read this honest, tell-all post someday and wonder what the heck is going on with them, too.  The sudden increased heart rate, the shaking, the gasping for air, and too much energy to sit still - that whole fight or flight sensation all moving into your happy place, totally uninvited.  Like you're about to be eaten by a lion. 

And before a giant incident that finally got my real attention, I had a few little hints of things along the way.  And the sweet family of firemen that I love around here, bless their hearts, have made one too many trips to our house to check me for what I swore was a mid afternoon, before dinner heart attack.  Which it was not.  And they just told me to drink a glass of wine.

But a little over a year ago I was on vacation with my family, and actually had a day of shopping and relaxing to myself.  And it happened as if it were scheduled into my day - right after breakfast and before that cute little store I wanted to visit.  And with no way to get in touch with my family because they were having their own manly kind of fun that day.  So I was nameless and homeless, sort of, and scared, and didn't want to be the gal that the paramedics took off to the place where other nameless crazy women go - where I would die all alone.   With a tag on my nameless out of town toe... and never having had the opportunity to shop in that cute little aforementioned store.  

And it upset me to think my family would still be having fun somewhere, clueless to my demise.

Big thoughts and lack of oxygen to the brain made it all seem so real.  And so  incredibly huge.  So I got on the hotel treadmill and ran.  And ran and ran some more.  (Again, far too much like Forrest Gump.  Run, Kristi, Run!)  

At first I decided a hot bath may do the trick but once I was in there I decided I didn't really want to die naked in the bathtub -  think Whitney Houston -  so the treadmill was my next best choice.

So here is all I know about panic attacks....  They may or may not be caused by stress.  But it appears to happen to both women and men, though more often to women.  And hormones can play a part so women in particular stages of life may get to enjoy it more often.  And there are theories that panic attacks or panic disorder is a type of post traumatic stress syndrome - the brain working out the bad stuff.  And each person handles stress and trauma differently.... so you may get an irritable bowel, I happen to hyperventilate.   I actually prefer neither.  

And sometimes I worry that it may start again - popped up out of nowhere.  Or that it might show itself in another form.  And I can't even imagine what that might be.  But I'm sticking with the hope that it wont. 

But I know I won't die from it.  And that's a big step in the right direction.  And I know that when I feel it happening, I can talk myself into a better place.  And it truly is a better place.  Confidence came from it, and a lot of thought and faith building.  And this blog.  Which is so often my talking spot. 

And I didn't really make any big plans to change behavior or thought processes or time management or any of the other theories on managing stress.  But along the way I did back off on some volunteerism with church and school.  And I backed away from being the gal who can't say no.  And for the first time in a while, I said no to lots of things.  Which turned out to be a gift. 

And no big decisions to change much of anything else, either.  No new beginnings or resolutions on health or parenting or faith or much of anything really.  Because y'all, panic isn't afraid of dreams and plans. 

But I've found that in my weakness, I find a reminder of God's super strength.  And for me it usually takes some awkward and sometimes surprise situations to remind me that I'm not the one in charge of everything.  That I can't be the one in charge of everything.  That I am simply the hands and feet of a God that loves me enough to run along side me on that hotel treadmill till my heart rate regulated and my family found me there all weird and worried.  But I didn't run it alone. 

It's another gift of God's amazing grace to take the most unexpected and sometimes unwanted situations and turn them into something worthy of praise.  

Celebrating life's little victories.....  

(I actually began writing this months ago.  And I stopped and started and never published it because the whole panic attack thing comes with baggage.  And it comes with a name tag that I will forever wear once I put this out there for the world to see.  But now I'm okay with that.  And with me.  For who I am, and all that entails.  And it is truly my hope for anyone who has or is struggling with this or similar, that you know that you are not the only one.  You are beautiful and wonderful as you are.  And this little bump in the road is just that.  Not a mountain.  Not a permanent wall or a monster that has to grow any bigger than you allow.  You are seen today - for who you are and where you are - by me.  And by the God that created you to be exactly this.  My love to you on this day for all that you are able to overcome and accomplish.) 

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