Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Penny McGinnis on Anxiety...

We're happy to have Penny McGinnis with us today talking about anxiety. God Bless you, Penny, for sharing you story and for sending a word of encouragement to those who may need it today.

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

A sense of doom, like a dark shadow, covered me and pressed my shoulders down. My hands shook and my breath labored. A tightness and pain ran across my chest and banded my arm. That morning on the way to work I felt euphoric, which should have been my first sign that something was wrong.

It was Grandparent's Day at the elementary school where I worked. Despite dizziness, I forced a smile and checked out books as grandmas and grandpas visited the library with their grandchildren. My co-worker, Tonda, sensed I was in distress. She called the assistant principal. For fear my symptoms were a heart attack, he had the school nurse take me to my doctor.

After an EKG and blood tests, the doctor found my heart was fine but my brain receptors didn't use a chemical called serotonin properly. I was officially diagnosed with a panic-anxiety disorder caused by a chemical imbalance.

I'd been anxious most of my life and experienced many less intense panic attacks. I'd pushed through symptoms by pure will-power or avoiding certain situations. Too many times I heard from well-meaning Christians that I needed to get over my issues. God could heal me if I just prayed harder. Trust me, I prayed daily. People blamed PMS, being a woman, or told me it was all in my head. (Well, it was, but not that way.)

Even though my diagnosis came later in life, God answered my constant prayers. He provided me with the people who could help. The assistant principal had watched a TV show about women and heart attacks. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have been as insistent that I go to the doctor. The school nurse was my daughter's friend, and shewanted to help. My co-worker was a good friend who watched out for me. My doctorwas a blessing. She understood the physiological aspects of what I needed. My husband's been super supportive as have my children.

With medication, continued prayer, and trust in God my panic attacks are doable. I haven't had a major one for several years. If I do experience anxiety, I see it as a warning sign to slow down. I'm much more calm which I attribute to the faith that's grown from my relationship with Jesus in combination with my meds. Prayer and faith led to answers. I praise God each time I share my story, and pray that I can help someone else.

Here's what I learned about panic and anxiety:
* Anxiety is real
* Panic attacks have physical symptoms that can debilitate
* Anxiety and panic attacks can be hereditary
* Physiological factors should be figured in to a diagnosis
* Medication may be needed to keep the chemicals balanced
* There's no shame in seeking medical help
* God answers prayer in unexpected ways

May God hear our prayers for help and drench us with his love and grace.


  1. Penny I definitely understand this. Twice I've been hospitalized because of anxiety so severe that they thought it was my heart. The thing is it can affect the heart and not in a healthy way. Thank you because anxiety, depression and so many other things are looked at by other Christians in a bad way. After going through a divorce leaving me with two children on my own I was told by a well meaning person that Christians don't get depressed. I just wasn't leaning on God. People need to be more understanding and hopefully they will have friends in their lives who will understand and be supportive. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Sandra,

      I agree. Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are real and are medical issues. I'm so sorry you didn't find support from the very people who should understand. That's why I speak out about it when I have the opportunity. Thanks for sharing. Take care.

  2. K,Dawn-
    Thanks for giving me the chance to share on your blog. I pray many are helped and reassured.