You could pick a handful of random posts from my blog and at least two or three of them would contain a mention of my anxiety. It's just a part of my life. It's there every day, and it sometimes affects decisions I make and how I live. So it's going to get talked about occasionally.
Lately, I have been having more issues than usual with my anxiety. I know where this is coming from. I have had an increase in stress in my life, but most of it is spiritual warfare. Sometimes you can't talk about this topic without sounding weird, but if spiritual warfare wasn't a real thing, then the Bible wouldn't tell us to always put on the full armor of God. You don't need a full suit of armor unless you're going to be attacked from time to time, you know? Anyway. I started having more issues when I found out that the trip to east Indonesia wouldn't be happening, and I decided that a change in location wasn't going to keep me from going on a trip. Since that day, I haven't slept through the night. Every night, one of two things happens: either I have night terrors and wake up four or five times (night terrors are just super intense, specific nightmares that keep you scared after you wake up), or I wake up once or twice, either in the middle of a panic attack, or feeling sick, which leads to a panic attack. I've gotten to the point where I just go ahead and expect to wake up, and I keep my "supplies" near my bed, ready if they're needed (more on that later.) One night I woke up from a nightmare and felt as if someone had just audibly said "you can't go" directly into my ear. I know that the things I'm dealing with right now are designed to scare me into not going on my trip, not doing what God wants me to do. And I'm not going to let that happen. But so far, my determination has not stopped these things from happening at night. Hopefully they'll stop soon.
In the meantime, I'm trying some new ways to deal with my anxiety in addition to my tried and true methods. I want to share them with you, because I've found them to be very helpful, and we all have times when we're scared or depressed and need a little help.
The new thing I'm doing has to do with my prayer life. My mom suggested that I pray for the kids in Tanzania when I wake up in the middle of the night, or when I'm having trouble falling asleep. I started making prayer cards- index cards containing information on the different child development centers in Tanzania. I'm looking them up on Compassion's website (gathering info from the pages of waiting kids), and I also posted a forum topic on OurCompassion asking sponsors to tell me stuff about the CDCs their kids in Tanzania go to. The cards with the most information kind of go like this: I put the number of the center in the top left corner of the card, and put the name of the center beside that. The next line tells where the center is. Then I start listing additional information, if I have it, such as the pastor's name, how many kids attend the center, and what special concerns they have (one sponsor told me that there is a very bad water shortage in the area where her child attends Compassion's program.) On the back, I'm listing names of the kids at those projects, along with their sponsors. For example, on the back of the card for 313, it says "Hannah- Magreth, 16 year old girl." And if another sponsor told me they had a kid at that center, that's where I'd list them. It will be really interesting to take these cards with me to Tanzania and see if I can match some names with faces, and let these kids know that I have been praying for them for months- and I don't even know them. : )
As I said earlier, I also have several tried-and-true methods for dealing with anxiety. I have mentioned some of them on here before, but they bear repeating.
The first and most important weapon in combating fear and anxiety is the Word of God. I hate memorizing things (at least, intentionally memorizing them.) I'm kind of terrible at it. But a few years back I filled a little spiral-bound notebook with special Bible verses (most of them from the Psalms), and I carry it with me everywhere. I mean that. It's always in my purse or my pocket. When things are bad, I can take out my little notebook and read the verses. Sometimes this means just reading them silently. Sometimes it means dwelling on a verse while I try to say it out loud (panic attacks are rough- sometimes it's hard to concentrate or you feel like you're going to throw up.) If I'm lucky, I only have to go through a few verses before I'm feeling better. If things are really bad, I make it all the way to the end of the book and have to start over.
The second thing is prayer. Enlist the help of prayer warriors. If you're really scared, sometimes you just can't do it on your own. It makes me feel better to know people are praying for me. If there's a random post from me on facebook in the middle of the night, you can almost bet that I'm up dealing with anxiety and am so desperate for prayers that I will just throw out a request to the internet in general. I can also text my mom (if things are really bad, I might call her, apologize for being a pest, and beg her to pray for me on the phone), and several friends from Bible study. I can tell my mom to let our friends know that I need prayer, and though I usually don't hear back from them unless I speak to them directly, I know they are praying for me. Saying prayers out loud helps, too. It makes you feel braver and it helps you focus.
The third thing is music. People often tell me to play music out loud when I'm up in the middle of the night dealing with anxiety, but that's not really an option because my husband has to work early every morning and I don't want to bother him with the noise. I'm already being noisy wandering around the house trying to find a Sprite, my saltines, hard candy, moving to the living room where I can sit and read my verses by booklight, etc. My mom gave me her iPod shuffle when she got a new iPod (and then I got her iPod when she got an iPhone, lucky me) and I have loaded it up with two things: relaxing and/or empowering praise music, and some random secular songs that help me chill out (mostly Simon and Garfunkel, oddly enough.) Some of my favorites are as follows:
- "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe
- "My Redeemer Lives" by Nicole C. Mullen
- "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
- "I Lift My Hands" by Chris Tomlin
- "Stronger" by Mandisa
- "Deliver Me" and "How He Loves" by David Crowder Band
I hope to someday get back to the point where I don't need to take medication to control my anxiety- I went a few years in high school and college without taking anything for it. Then I had to get "as needed" meds, and then right after I got married, I had to add full-time antidepressants to the mix. Maybe someday soon I'll be able to drop those again and just have my pills for when things get really bad. But in the meantime, all of these things help me out a lot when it comes to anxiety, whether it's a full-on panic attack or just a general feeling of uneasiness and fear.
And if you think about it, I would appreciate your prayers as well. I am dealing with a lot of exhaustion as a result of not sleeping well at night. I am going to talk to my doctor about taking something to help me sleep for a few months before the trip, in the hopes that it will help keep me from waking up quite so much. Unfortunately I can't get in to see him for a consultation for another two months. Your prayers- especially at night, around midnight to 4 am eastern time- would be greatly appreciated. I'm thankful for all the help I can get. : )