anxiety attacks

This post was originally written in August 2011, about six weeks after our third miscarriage. 

“I waited patiently for the LORD;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, 
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.”    (Psalm 40:1-3)

Several Sundays ago, in church, a woman read the first verse of this passage with an encouragement to keep waiting on the Lord, for He hears our cries and knows our tears and sorrows, and will answer us in His time.  It really gave me hope to keep waiting for the Lord to deliver me from the sorrow of losing our baby.  It seemed like every week at church was my time to have a crying fest and that I would never be happy again.  Even though we had walked the road of miscarriage twice before, this road was darker, scarier, and winded deep through a valley I hadn’t traversed before.

After a few weeks, my anxiety attacks got worse.  (I hate pregnancy hormones!)  I’d have them in the middle of the day and in the middle of the night.  I was always scared and sad.  I kept clinging to this verse.  The Lord has GOT to answer me one day, I kept thinking!  But faith was very weak indeed and it was getting harder to believe I would ever be healed.  I felt broken beyond repair.  Anxiety and its counterpart, depression, are the worst foes I have ever faced.

Fast-forward to today.  It has been over two months since we lost our little one, and last week, I finally found a doctor who got me on medication that worked for me.  I can finally say that the Lord has led me “out of the miry bog!”  He has “put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God!”  I want to shout from the rooftops.  I wanted to run up on stage yesterday at church and tell the whole congregation about God’s deliverance!  I haven’t felt such relief and happiness and gratefulness to God in all my life.  I can’t stop thanking Him.

I never knew what “anxiety” really meant.  I always thought it meant “stress” or being overly worried about something.  It is so much worse!  My friend explained that it comes from your central nervous system being too ramped up and overstimulated (like “fight or flight”) because of a chemical imbalance in the brain (in my case, most likely caused by postpartum hormonal changes).  It feels like extreme fear and nervousness, sort of like you’d feel if your child were in a bad accident and you were waiting outside the surgery room, wringing your hands and pacing.  But it happens for no reason.  All of a sudden, you feel terror.  I would wake up at night and feel terror.  I’d get out of bed and wander around, trying to take deep breaths.  I’d go outside on the front porch and try to relax.  I’d get my husband’s iPod touch and play little games in bed to distract myself, and listen to Norah Jones (she got me to sleep every time!).  One night I even threw up because I was so anxious.  My thoughts were constantly fearful – almost like I was expecting my husband or children to die soon.  I couldn’t get happy about anything – the future loomed ahead in my mind like a black cloud, with only bad things in store.  During the day, I could barely eat because of my nerves.  Sometimes, I couldn’t even read the Bible, because it made me anxious and I was terrified it wasn’t true.  What a robbery it is, to steal this comfort from a child of God!  Like I said, this was the worst foe I ever faced.

I had a prescription for ativan (lorazepam), an anti-anxiety drug, which helped some, but it made me feel a little like a zombie, and I still wasn’t enjoying things or feeling like myself.  I often needed to nap, and couldn’t wrap my head around simple tasks, like cooking a meal.  Even with some relief from the anxiety, it wasn’t working great and I watched my family from inside a glass snowglobe, like I was in the room but completely separate from the happiness they were experiencing.  One night, I went to pray in my room and ended up sobbing on the bed, crying to God over and over, “I don’t want to be afraid anymore!”

This all went on for weeks.  And it got so bad I wasn’t even attending church because I’d have anxiety attacks there.

Thank God for mercies along the way, like my husband, my friend Jen, and my mother-in-law who has been living with us temporarily.  Thank God for all the saints in the church praying for us, and the fact that it’s summer and hubbie is home every day.  And I don’t know WHERE I would be without my friend Kristi, who has been through this and always was ready to talk to me when I needed help.  If she wasn’t a constant in the life of our church, I’d almost think she was an angel!  She was the one who first took hold of my attention and said, “I think you need to get some medicine!”  And finally, finally, the medicine is working.  What a gift from God.

I am on an anti-depressant (zoloft) as well as a new anti-anxiety med (klonopin).  The first day I changed to klonopin instead of ativan, I was a totally different person.  I was myself!  Within a matter of an hour or so…. it was AMAZING.  It has been less than a week and so it feels weird to even write about my anxiety in the past tense, but this is the “wide place” God has led me to now.  Out of the miry bog.  My feet are secure.  My faith is strengthened.  My love for Christ has increased.  I don’t know how God does it, bringing good through suffering, but here I am.  I am almost afraid to believe I could be completely better now, but I guess as long as I have medicine to help my body and brain get through this, I am well!

I would encourage any person who is experiencing anxiety, depression, mood swings, or any other sort of mental/emotional imbalance to get help right away.  It is nothing to shake a stick at!  And you HAVE to find the right doctor.  I went to my OB and my general doc (PCP) and neither of them were specialized enough in these drugs to get me the proper help.  I ended up going to a psychiatrist and the medication expert there got me on the klonopin.  And sometimes you need to just keep looking… not all psychiatrists are created equal and I truly believe you need someone who works FOR YOU.  Help is definitely out there – you don’t have to live like this.a

I am laughing a lot now.  I am making dinners.  I am working on projects and folding laundry.  I am enjoying my kids!  I am looking forward to things.  I am eating!  I am HAPPY.  My soul has been restored.  “For His name’s sake” … let this bring Him glory… let this help someone else… let this make me a better wife, mother, and friend.

Thanks be to God.


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