Panic

The True Bottom (Of the Pit)

There are several times, in the past 3+ years, where I would’ve described my being at the bottom of the pit of life.

But, this year, 2018, has shown me that those times prior, were truly just half way down.

I’ve officially been to the bottom. 

I hesitated in saying that because, I truly believe the worst things that could happen in my life would be if I lost my husband or one of my children. But, I  believe that anyone who feels and believes and lives out that their life isn’t worth living anymore, that they’re truly in the cesspool of the bottom of life’s pit.

A Little Backstory

Maybe some of you are aware that the last 3+ years, I’ve struggled with health issues. The most prominent of those issues being with anxiety, depression, fear, and panic. 

Ive literally been to every doctor around. From the most prescription happy doctors to the most crunchy, natural ones. I’ve been prescribed every single antidepressant known to man, and I flushed them all down the toilet. 

Never convinced. There’s something else here.

I spent thousands and thousands on bloodwork and supplements. In fact, as I type this in the coziness that is my local LabCorp Facility, I am about to get even more blood work done.


Chiropractic care, Nexalin treatments, foot detox baths, laser therapy, homeopathy, muscle testing, and anything else you can imagine except for acupuncture.  (I was never quite brave enough for that).

Everytime, aside from the time I presented with hyperthyroidism in 2015, it was just: “Low Vitamin D/semi-wonky cholesterol levels”. 


A potential suspicion of Lyme Disease or some sort of other chronic illness still looms over my head as of current. I went to the best doctors on the east coast to find that out last Friday. But, does it really matter where it’s all come from?


Maybe.


And if it comes up as none of the above , I’ll have to swallow and digest that my brain is just running the show and depression, anxiety, and panic is the “thing”.


But, You’re a Christ-Follower


In January of this year, January 3rd to be exact, I had my third encounter with Jesus.


At 2:30am, after two days of prayer and fasting, I woke up, abruptly, from a deep sleep.


I sat straight up in bed and opened my eyes.


Jesus was everywhere I looked.


Just standing there.


Smiling at me.


This occurred for maybe two full minutes, in which time I nearly beat awake my poor husband. I begged him to open his eyes and see what I was seeing, but he saw nothing and told me to go back to sleep.


I continued to fast and pray for eight more days. Determined that this would be the year that God and I would be stronger than ever before.


I had 11 specific prayer requests, three about my maladies, and he answered all of them during that fast...


...except for the three about my healing.

 

I can’t begin to tell you how many times in the past few months that I’ve gone back to this moment and rolled my eyes in disgust. Why would Jesus visit me and just smile as if everything was going to be alright?!  


Crashing Head First Into Rock Bottom


For years now, I’ve dealt with near continuous anxiety and panic. As the months waned on, my list of fears grew exponentially.


It began with some simple health anxiety. And after that first panic attack, I was terrified of having another.


By the end of 2015, I was a full blown hypochondriac and eventually experienced continuous electricity going through my body from the moment I would wake in the mornings, until the unconsciousness sleep provided me at night.


I couldn’t sit still.


Did you know that simply shaking your leg up and down all day burns nearly five-hundred calories?!


I had the most muscular right leg in my family back then.


Panic attacks became my default mode. I could go anywhere and feel like “this was it”...my moment to die. No place was safe from these automatic responses.


The park, Aldi’s checkout line, buying movie tickets, sitting thru a movie, Church, drive-thru’s, driving, waiting for any length of time, checking the mail, being the passenger in the car(which I was all the time at my worst), picking up our groceries, waking up in the morning, and eventually just being in my own home. 


Depression began to creep in slowly this past January. And before I knew it, everything I used to have a desire for had left me.


Dancing sounded like torture. Music was merely noise...like fingernails on a chalkboard.


The thought of doing anything beyond just sitting down and wanting to die already, was too much.


I stopped caring. And, I didn’t even want to stop caring. It just happened.


Winter pressed on with a vengeance and so did this dark cloud. A cloud that filled up heavier and heavier, just waiting for the release of the deluge it was holding tight to.


After I had the worst panic attack of all on February 9th, one in which my children had to assist firemen and paramedics in our home, the whole dam broke and left me desperate to stay above water.


Now my very “safe zone” wasn’t safe. Anxiety and panic had filled my walls up to the ceilings and I absolutely hated my life 100% for the first time ever.


Nothing to live for, I thought.


Tired of struggling. Tired of my brain playing tricks on me. Tired of fighting.


All I wanted to do was die.


They deserve better. Everyone did.


So, I pushed them all away. And I became seriously suicidal.


Depression Doesn’t Care If You Have It All


Unless you’re my husband or mother-in-law, the following description of what I’ve experienced this year won’t give you its full effect.


They are the only ones who really know how bad it got.


However, I must be candid here, as I always have been. Because, this is real life and my reality. And the truth sets us all free, even when the truth is tough to admit.


Every morning, for about six weeks, I’d wake up, wail and sob uncontrollably until about 11am. I’d have panic attack after panic attack, but this time, depression held its hands. They were like this dynamic super duo that held me in an altered state for hours.


I’d scream and scream and yell at

God and Mike and myself.


I’d over turn tables, throw anything in my reach at the walls, and bang my head against the ground. I’d punch cushions and the walls until my knuckles felt like breaking. I’d lose all of my energy and hyperventilate to the point of almost passing out every morning.


It got to the point where I wasn’t doing life at all. Screw everyone and everything. I hated it all. I didn’t want friends. I didn’t want my family. I wanted to go away and begged, several times a day even, for someone to just take me in.


Finally, after realizing that the supplements, the oils, the countless bloodwork and appointments were getting me nowhere, I decided that maybe I need to get on a medication once and for all. And not flush it this time.


Ladies and gentlemen, you can have it all and still experience the deepest and darkest pit.


Which makes no sense. It doesn’t. I know. And that was THE MOST frustrating part for me. Knowing that I have it all and I can’t even have the eyes and the mind to enjoy it. It was impossible. Like throwing a feather at a freight train, nothing I tried helped. Not even Bible verses. Not even prayer.  Nothing took it away. Nothing.


So, I stopped reaching out to God. I was done. And up until a few days ago, I was still done.


Medicated Christian


Here’s the deal: I’m super prideful. I spent over three years spinning my wheels, dumping medications down the toilet and doing everything in MY power to will this all away.


Sometimes the answer to our problems lies in a tiny green pill. A tiny green pill that literally made me shake with fear everytime I opened the bottle.


I’m five weeks removed from that low moment where I called my primary, smack in the middle of my morning meltdown, and she translated my broken, hyperventilated speech into somehow understanding that I needed an appointment for meds and NOW.


I’m five weeks removed and I no longer cringe when I open that bottle. In fact, I am happy to take it because I’m seeing pieces of myself again.


The Worst Day of My Life


Two weeks ago, after experiencing four straight days of conquering fears, having energy, and laughing for the first time in months, I woke up under the darkness again.


During this particular morning meltdown, while my children were safely spending the night at their Grandmothers house, I placed myself in front of the knife drawer in my kitchen.


I contemplated which one would serve me best: the carving knife? The steak knife? The paring knife?


I just had so much pain in my head. Not in the physical sense, but mentally, I was writhing. It hurt so bad. The medicine had betrayed me. The last four days were a joke. I saw life as better off without me.


So, I took out my pain on my left forearm.


Over and over. I just wanted to release my pain. I just wanted to put the mental pain with a physical pain.


And, hours later, after the cloud lifted from me around noon, like it always does, I felt remorse. I felt awful. I felt guilty and stupid. Idiotic. Irresponsible.


Now...I’m untrustworthy.


After two consecutive days of accompanying my husband to his job site, sitting in the van for hours with our children, I realized that this...THIS was rock bottom.


But, it gets worse...


The following Monday, after four straight weeks of my husband having to work at home, I had a follow-up concerning my dosage.


This follow-up led me to an hour long drive to a Psyc Ward in Charlotte to speak to a Psychiatrist about a more “fine-tuned” medication plan.


Naive as I was, I walked into that place thinking that a simple 20 minute convo with the on-call doctor would be my experience.


However, what I actually experienced was, how do I say...a tad more “involved”.


I was treated like an imminently suicidal patient.


I was stripped naked and inspected in every crevice. I was humiliated as the security wand went over my naked body. I was commanded to put all of my belongings into a special plastic bag and I was given scrubs to wear that were the ugliest shade of tan.


I wondered what was happening. I told them with the sweetest, non-psycho person smile I could muster that I was just here to discuss a possible med change with the doctor.


They didn’t care. And they told me to go sit in the “day room” with the other inmates and that my lunch would arrive on a tray.


Six hours and 75 almost panic attacks later and I got my stuff back. Vowing never to return again.


A waste of time.


“Stay the course,” said the Psychiatrist.


A twenty minute/$1000+ meeting that led to those three simple words.


I was DONE.


Tired of serving the Lord, at this point, I was so hurt.


How could he allow this to happen to me?


I didn’t belong there, yet, I was forced to experience it all. The screaming, the cursing, the smells, the bleakness...a line of small children that were stacked from smallest to tallest, led by security guards down a hallway that had a “faux skylight of the real sky”. These people never see the real sky. The windows are frosted all the way up, minus a foot of clarity at the top.


I saw syringes and fights and nurses holding down bodies that couldn’t contain themselves.


I dared not show my internal panic here in front of these people, lest they inject me with something, too.


“You’re so sweet,” one nurse chided as I was putting my street clothes back on at discharge. As if she could see from experience that I was probably the most sane person to wear that hospital band.


Glimmers of Hope


Here’s the truth now: if last Tuesday was the shit at the bottom of the pit of life, Wednesday began the climb upwards.



I’ve driven my children to the park. Alone. Twice. Something i hadn’t done in four years.


My husband went back to work and I could be trusted again. Panic attacks were spacing out. Depression was walking away from me. I started talking to my sister again some. I hadn’t spoken to most of my family in months. They’re all in Texas anyway. They can’t really help me.


I still don’t know why or how or what concerning these struggles. I may never understand.

The photo that changed my life. Last Tuesday, while I was throwing up from side effects, my children were praying for me. They are worth living for. 

The photo that changed my life. Last Tuesday, while I was throwing up from side effects, my children were praying for me. They are worth living for. 


All I’ve ever tried to do with my life was to serve God and others. To encourage you. To help you see how amazing God is. To write from my heart and live a simple life.


I’m not frivolous. I’m not even trying to be like anyone else. I just wanted to be a blessing to you. To my family.


And it breaks my heart in two to know that this is a real, bonafide, legit disease. The disease of the mind and Christians are encouraged to just pray more and sing “Oceans” during their times of panic.


No.


Yes, because of Christ, we can and we do have the ability to praise Him in the storm, but sometimes, there are mental deficits that prevent us from actually doing those things.


I’m not fully there yet, but I’m on the way.


I’m in counseling. I may have to take an Ativan every now and again to make it and risk sleeping for three hours after. I may need this medication for this season or for always. I don’t know.


What I do know is that I’m done with being embarrassed and ashamed for being a Christ-follower, an author of a book about embracing life to the fullest, and a woman that needs help getting her sick mind back on track.


I’m done with that. Which is why I wrote this, leaving few details out. You deserve the truth. And maybe you feel yourself in the same boat. Maybe you long to die. Maybe you feel like your mind is not cooperating anymore. Don’t be ashamed to do something about it. Even if you aren’t fully supported by your peers or your church.


I no longer wake up in the mornings and meltdown.


I no longer curse at God and wish to die.


I no longer shake my fist at life and hate every ticking second.


I’m learning to embrace my mental illness and fully recover knowing that God never did leave me after all, I just couldn’t see any truth at all.


Pray for me and us in the weeks to come. Things are getting better and I am hopeful that all will be fully restored in time.


The fact that I am writing to all of you again is a good sign. I have my desire back. I can remember how to laugh and smile now.


Please contact me ASAP if you feel you need a shoulder right now. We long to be understood. Especially those of us that deal with these issues. I’m here.


And remember, Philippians 1:6....He will complete the good work in you that He already began. Hold tight to that.


Love, Alicia












 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding God in Your Fear

Have you ever been in a haunted house before, or maybe one of those haunted trails?  

 

Every October, without fail, signs go up all over my small town. Even billboards advertise these experiences where we can get the crap scared out of us. 

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I really don’t see the appeal. Maybe I’m strange.

 

I don’t enjoy scary movies either. In fact, I just hate the feeling of being afraid altogether. I guess I don’t see the point in running toward something that will get your heart racing and maybe even your panties wet. 

 

Some of us don’t need haunted houses or scary movies to get a good fear buzz. We live in fear each and every day.   

 

I’m talking about those of us that suffer, year-round, in Anxietyville.

 

Literally, the scariest “Ville” you’ll ever put yourself through. In fact, it’s so scary, we may as well advertise and charge for people to come and experience it. I could’ve been making a fortune. 

 

I’m no gardener. In fact, I have a bit of a pukish-green thumb. Not a black thumb. I don’t kill everything I touch. Just maybe half of it. 

 

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When I planted a seed of fear and anxiety in my heart nearly three years ago, I became a master at babying that little seed.

 

I’d water it daily. Gave it all the sun and fresh air it desired. I sang to it, talked to it, and told it to grow, grow, grow.  

 

And then, when it grew so large, and so healthy, that it began to spill over the little pot I planted it in, I realize that maybe I cared for it a little too well. 

 

When it took over my entire garden, it killed all of the good, delicious foods and herbs I needed to nourish my body. It began killing the other plants. 

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Before I knew it, the plant of fear and anxiety had completely and utterly decimated any signs of life in my garden and it had no plans to slow down.

 

It no longer required my attention anymore. It no longer needed daily watering, tending, or care. It was out of control and I didn’t know how to keep it from growing even more.  

 

When the anxiety and fear in my mind grew out into my body, I would scream and yell and beg God to save me. 

 

I would get angry at Him, wondering why He wasn’t killing this plant for me.

 

After some time, I was convinced that He didn’t care about my trouble. I was convinced that the plant of anxiety and fear was forever to be in my garden, growing more and more rogue everyday. 

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There would be times when I’d figure out ways to make it smaller. I’d spend time pruning or ripping vines from the tangled, mangled mess. I was brave. I was determined. I felt strong in these times. And God was giving me the strength and wisdom to know how best to rid my garden of this mess.

 

Sometimes, I’d feel too weak to care. I’d give in and watch all of my pruning and ripping out go to waste as the vines of my plant grew back twice a long.  

 

I realized that God doesn’t hang out in my garden of fear and anxiety. And when I’m desperately doing the backbreaking work it takes to keep it from going out of control, God is on the other side of the property, in the stillness of a stream, in the falling of leaves, and the soft hum of a bee. 

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Friends, the reason you don’t hear or see God in your fear and anxiety is because He’s not in fear and anxiety. 

 

Fear is loud. Fear is obnoxious and chaotic and toxic. Fear is a life-stealer and a hope-taker. It’s a faith-killer and a death-dealer. God isn’t in that. God isn’t there.  

 

You see, if we want to hear God, we have to quiet our hearts. “Like a weaned child...” we have to calm our souls. We have to seek peace and search for joy.

 

“In Him is perfect Peace.”  

 

I often would wait for my rescuing.

 

I would sit in my garden full of tangled weeds and wait for Him to come and untangle the mess.

I would scream.

I would wail.

All the while becoming more and more bitter as the vines would grow around me, suffocating the death out of me. Notice I said death and not life.

 

There is no living in fear. Just dying

 

Throw down your watering can. Stop taking daily walks out to your garden and go sit by the stream of still waters.

 

Let Him pour His Living Water into your soul. The living water that kills anxiety, fear, and panic and replaces those things with hope, faith, and joy. 

 

The more time you spend on the Living Water side, the more you’ll forget that your tangled garden even existed. 

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So please, stop looking for God in your fear. Because you won’t find Him. 

 

"Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.“ -Deuteronomy 30:15  

 

Choose Life. Choose Joy. Choose Peace. Choose Jesus. 

The Thickness in the Air.

Last Saturday, I had the worst panic attack of my life.  

 

I had been at an oil retreat for the afternoon. I woke up feeling a bit "off" that morning. My car was acting up and it looked as if I wouldn't even make it to the retreat. I was somewhat fine with this because of the way I was feeling.  

 

I felt an extreme heaviness in my chest. I was really down emotionally. Sad. Depressed. Somewhat checked out. But I mustered up the courage to go anyway, once I got the "go ahead" to take my car. 

 

It was about a forty minute drive thru the country. A beautiful drive. Not much to see except a few homes and a church or two. No gas stations. No stores. No restaurants. 

 

I sat thru four back to back sessions that lasted about 4 hours total.  

 

I could feel my anxiety begin to overwhelm me during that last thirty minutes. 

 

I couldn't stop fidgeting, shaking my legs, looking around...it was not a good combo with my hungry stomach.  

 

I have hunger anxiety. I mean when I say I obsess and worry over eating, I don't think I do that statement justice. I am mostly consumed by the thought of getting enough calories everyday. My bought of hyperthyroidism last year has conditioned me to be hyper hyper hypervigilant about eating and not feeling shaky.  

 

As soon as the session was over, dinner was to be served. Except, I couldn't stay. I couldn't. I had to jet out. I wanted to leave before it got totally dark outside. 

 

When my GPS never loaded and my battery life kept draining like a leaky faucet, I was in full panic mode before even leaving the parking lot.  

 

To make a lnger story, shorter, I ended up calling my husband, screamed on the phone to him that I needed him NOW and quickly pulled into a random baptist church parking lot to basically die. 

 

All of those panic attacks I've had before were like child's play compared to this guy. It was so bad, so severe, my heartbeat was just one continuous smash. It was beating so quickly I could not longer distinguish beats. My head was so overwhelmed with panic and fear with being totally lost, having a dying phone, low blood sugar, and the anxiousness that began at the retreat, I couldn't even see straight. Everything was surreal. Nothing made sense except that my death was near.  

 

Ive been on high alert since that moment on Saturday. I've not been able to effectively navigate my thoughts back to sanity except for one hour on Monday evening when I spent the entire time driving to my best friends house, praying aloud.  

 

It's amazing to see how deep and horrible Satan's attacks are. Even throughout the election season, we witnessed so many deep, ugly, disgusting truths revealed. The spiritual warfare in our land has been intense.  

 

I don't know if it's just been me, or maybe you're feeling it, too.  

 

Just like with the election results, I don't want to go backwards. I want to keep seeking truth and holding on to those truths. I want to discard the lies and the hate and the illusion that death has a real grip on me or this country.  

 

We have that opportunity to live in freedom. And we all need to take advantage of that.  

 

Love, Alicia