Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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.