My Panic attacks started the day I moved to Texas. They say “everything’s bigger in Texas and that was certainly true of my anxiety. It was In the middle of a stressful move from Illinois to Texas, at the end of the season of “peace” which is often the season of busyness and stress: Christmas. I had just joined my husband in our month long hotel room. It was time to take a deep breath and relax. The stress seemingly was over.
Then it happened. Out of the blue. My heart began to race. Palm sweating. The walls of the Irving extended stay closed in. I struggled to breath. Terror racked my body. It all felt unreal like I would pop out of my skin at any moment.
It was at this point my husband called first call for help as we struggle to understand why my body, normally healthy and rational in its behavior, was out of control. They were quick to realize I was having a panic attack, but gave me little additional information. They assured me I wasn’t dying.
I was also sure I wasn’t dying but the other option weren’t cheery. As we hung up the phone I had a sinking feeling that somethings was terrible wrong. If not physically then mentally. I felt like I was going crazy so maybe I was. After my husband hung up the phone he felt better and went to sleep and I lay in bed shaking all night long as I wondered how I would survive living in this place without my friends and clearly, In my mind, on the edge of sanity.
What is a panic attack? Is a terror reaction. It’s not just a little bit of fear. It’s like a fear reaction you would have it you were stuck under water and you couldn’t resurface. Your body is quite literally reacting as if you were in a life and death situation and it comes out of the blue.
I had a panic attack in the grocery store so I became afraid of going to the grocery store, flying on airplanes, going to church, going with friends anywhere. Everything I wanted to do was checked against the question of whether or not it might “cause” a panic attack. And if it would I wouldn’t go unless it was essential. On top of this I had isolation. Physical isolation because I didn’t go places as much. Emotional isolation, because I didn’t share what was going on because I was embarrassed. I was an intelligent woman, but I couldn’t think my way out of it. It made me dread each day. I lost, peace, joy and I had no hope that things would ever get better.
At this point in my life I was a Christian but very shallow Christian. I wanted the healing gifts of God without real relationship with God. What I wanted to happen from God – instant healing and that is what I prayed for. God in his humor and wisdom didn’t give me what I wanted gave me what I needed.
There is a poem called Footprints in the Sand where the person has a dream where they envision their life as a path in the sand with Jesus walking next to them and therefore making two paths of footprints in the sand. They notice that during difficult times there is only one path and wonder why God has abandoned them during these difficult times. He answers that it is because he has carried them. During difficult times they see one path of footprints and wonder why God has abandoned them. He says there is one path because that is when he carried them.
My footprints in the sand vision of my life is not quite as sweet. When I look back, God during this time was pushing me. Booting my fanny out the door. He pulled me into obedience and trusting and a deeper understanding of what faith was and a deeper healing.
God used this very difficult situation to improve me or to refine me like silver. He taught me to trust him because I experienced over and over again how personal his healing was.My general belief turned to a personal faith.My fear turned into a personal trust. My despair turned into hope.Now I have Hope because Jesus is personally involved in my life. I have Hope because what was the worst time was also in many ways the best because of the personal and spiritual growth that accompanied the suffering.
Here is one story of how God helped me, a person afraid of leaving my house, to travel half way around the world to adopt. It was not in the way I prayed for but God always has better plans.