Anxiety: When The Valley Is Dark

Travel Inspiration

Good morning!

Happy Friday! I hope it is a happy Friday for you. But if it’s not, welcome to my Friday anxiety post.

When The Valley Is Dark

When my anxiety was at its peak, I felt so discouraged. I was doing all the right things. I was praying. I was reading the Bible. I was gratitude journaling and exercising and eating right and breathing and EVERYTHING that you are supposed to do to banish anxiety. But every morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach. The days were hazily filled with fighting the thoughts. My nights were spent lying awake, exhausted, but unable to sleep.

During this time,  I hated talking to anyone. My anxiety had gotten to the point where I was having anxiety attacks every day and when I was in conversation with someone it was almost inevitable that tears would come. Of course, when people see these things they want to help and what better way to help than with a Bible verse? But where these were meant for encouragement, they only made me more discouraged.

The reason I am writing this to you today is that I know a lot of you are in this spot. You are crying out to God. You are on your knees begging Him to help you. You are wondering what you are doing wrong. You are at a loss as to why you can’t seem to get any peace from the Bible verses that should be bringing you peace. Verses like these:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.  Psalm 94:19

And there is many more.

Don’t get me wrong, these are wonderful verses! And now, I completely understand them and am so thankful for what God has done in my heart when I read them! But at the time, they were discouraging. I felt like a failure in everything. The verses made no sense as much as I wanted them to and no one I spoke to had any helpful advice. I was told that I was anxious because my heart was not right and even that it was a sin to be anxious! Now I know that my heart wasn’t right. Even though I deeply loved the Lord at the time, my heart still needed to be purified. But it isn’t a sin to be anxious. Anxiety is an emotion. One that will drive you to your knees, crying out to God and in turn understanding His awe-inspiring sovereignty.

I remember laying in my living room, feeling lifeless, wondering where God was. Was it a waste of time to call out to Him? Crying, I just said to God, “I feel so alone.”

And I did. But I was not alone in the least little bit. He was with me and was doing great works inside of me. You have to understand what God is doing when suffering comes.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11

Friend, there is a purpose for your pain. You are being refined and I promise you, though it doesn’t seem like it now, there will be peace in the end.

This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”  Zechariah 13:9 

Look at this. Do you know the story of the Israelites being brought out of Egypt? If you don’t, it is so good and will encourage you greatly! The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt and God rescued them in such a miraculous way! But being brought out of bondage was scary for them even though they were being rescued. Look what God tells them through Moses…

Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste–so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.  Deuteronomy 16:3

Ok, I am aware this verse may make no sense now. But God was bringing them out of slavery. He was rescuing them! But they left in haste. They were nervous and afraid. Why? SO THAT THEY WOULD NEVER FORGET.

Friend, you are going through affliction and there is a reason. So that you are brought close to the Lord and understand His salvation, love, goodness, and glory. It has to be this way so that you never forget what He has done for you.

Keep praying, keep reading His word, don’t look to the right or the left. Look straight at God and keep walking toward Him. You are in the right direction.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Blessings,
Angela

 

Anxious? Suffering? How To Run To God

 

Good morning!

I hope you are well but if you aren’t, you must run to God.

james 1_12

I think many of us are confused on exactly how to run to God when tragedy strikes. We pray for God to fix our situation. We try to find verses that help us to understand what we are going through. We go to church and listen to sermons that hopefully help us deal. But while all of those things are good, peace is found when we fully humble ourselves before the Lord.

How To Run To God

Humbly Cry Out To God

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.
Matthew 17:5-6

When tragedy strikes, get on your knees and cry out to God. Tell him all of your fears. Tell Him all of your thoughts, He knows them anyway. There is no sense in not being honest because He knows every thought and every feeling you are experiencing. Be completely honest yet humble and reverent. He is the Lord of the Universe.

Ask Him To Open Your Eyes

Next, ask the Lord to open your eyes to what He wants to show you. Ask him to give you wisdom and knowledge and understanding. This is why we go through trials.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

Open Your Bible

You are going to notice that most of the steps begin with “Ask the Lord”. This is because when we are suffering, we are to go to Him and nowhere else.

Open your Bible and ask the Lord to let you absorb every fiber of it. The Bible is God’s voice. Ask Him to give you understanding and He will!

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 
Matthew 24:35

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

Suffering is the season of listening. Stop everything and listen to the Lord. Open His word,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Relentlessly Seek God

The definition of relentless is “oppressively constant; incessant.”

This is how you are to seek God right now. When you wake up, in every free moment, before bed. Be thankful that God is asking you to do this because this only is asked of those He loves.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19

They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 
Hebrews 12:10-11

Have Faith

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 
Matthew 7:7-8

I know without a doubt that if you are suffering and you humbly run to God you will receive the peace that surpasses all understanding. Then you will have no choice but to tell others about what happened. I know this because God reveals Himself through our weakness!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
1 Corinthians 12:9

So friend, run. Run to God and nowhere else.

Blessings,
Angela

 

 

The Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

Good morning!

I certainly hope it’s a good morning for you. But if it is another anxious morning and you aren’t sure why, welcome to my Friday anxiety post!

First, I have noticed that you guys have been frequenting my 5 Thing Hats Post. It’s my most popular blog post week after week! So I thought I would go ahead and share the technique again for you guys today.

5 Thinking Hats Technique

This is a grounding technique to use when you feel the symptoms of an anxiety attack coming. It really works! The next time you feel your legs about to give, the room spin, your heart racing, sweat bead on your lip, or whatever symptom your body decides to scare the crap out of you with this time, do this!

5 Hats Technique

When we are anxious, our thoughts are constantly in the future or the past. This technique brings you into the here and now telling our brains there is nothing to run from. Everything is ok.

Also, make sure you are breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. This has a HUGE calming effect. Close your mouth and make sure you are only breathing through your nose until you calm down and make sure to keep breathing through your nose most of the day. You are going to be tempted to open your mouth and take huge gulps of air but just remember, that will only make the anxiety worse. Close your mouth, breath through your nose.

The Thoughts, the Thoughts, the Relentless Thoughts!

The thoughts that relentlessly keep stabbing their way into your mind and scaring the ever living poo out of you are called intrusive thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you are at a wedding, your child’s first birthday party, or sitting on a cloud with unicorn’s jumping through rainbows, those nasty little intrusive thoughts like to ruin any otherwise happy and memorable moment.

If you are reading this and thinking “What in the world is she talking about?”, you are not who this post is for. But there are many of you who know exactly what I am talking about in the above paragraph and you my friend are not alone and believe it or not, you’re not even crazy.

OCD is an anxiety disorder. Everyone, OCD or not, has weird thoughts pop into their minds. Everyone. But in the mind of the person with OCD, the thoughts stick and there is a fear response causing their brain to give significance to the thought and obsess about it. Understand, this is a chemical imbalance.

If you break your arm, your arm is broken and there is pain. You can manage the pain. You can breathe. You can tell yourself that many people have dealt with this pain before and you will get through this. You can hold your arm in place making it better for the time being. But at some point, you will have to get up and try to live life with this broken arm. Unless you go to the doctor and get a cast, you are going to be painfully holding your arm in place while trying to do your daily tasks. When you finally let go because you need to arms, excruciating pain will ensue making it almost impossible to do anything other than hold your arm in place and cry through the torturous pain. Day after day of this managing and then giving in wears on you. This torture wears you down and begins to affect other areas of your body. If you would have just gone to the doctor, you would have gotten a cast for a while and then your arm would be fully healed!

OCD is the same. Because of the chemical imbalance, our brains shoot these terrifying thoughts and images into our brain constantly. We are overwhelmed with feelings of doom. Seriously, doom! We go about daily life trying to focus our minds on work and our families but like the broken arm, we just hold it together until life gets even just a little hectic and then bam, anxiety attack. It’s torture.

But there is hope!

Know you are not alone and get help. Do not take this lightly. Go get help. The reason I share my experience is to direct you to help. There is too much shame in all this and too many lives lost from years of mental torture. There is help and there is hope.

When I was suffering, I thought to myself “This is all in my mind, I can think myself out of this.”

No. Not when it is a chemical imbalance.

You all know I am a Christian. I share my experiences on here for everyone but especially for Christians because there is kind of a stigma against medication and even just being anxious. So what does the Christian do when the thoughts and feelings won’t stop?

When I was struggling, I had never felt so alone. I was scared so of course, as we do when pain strikes, I was brought to my knees before the Lord and read the Bible almost obsessively. This was a blessing and just goes to show how pain drives us to the word.

Spurgeon said that adversity is what sharpens the knife but the knife is the word. Very true! The more I read, it was like God was pruning me.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2

God speaks to us through His word. Man did this help to know when you have thoughts and feelings literally blasting through every particle of your being telling you to pay attention to them. I sometimes thought those were God!

But it was through His word, that I saw the truth. My anxiety was suffering and this is meant to bring me closer to the Lord.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5 

Remember, when our loved one has cancer, we thank God for healing them through chemo. When our loved one has diabetes, we thank God for insulin. When we have a broken bone, we thank God for doctors and for casts.

Friends, when your mind is broken, thank God that you live in this century with doctors, counseling, and medicine.

I thank God for my wonderful counselor, Sarah Beth Wheeler. I thank God for medication. And last but certainly not least, I thank God for my sweet, strong, and loving husband Jason who only supported me though he had no idea what I was going through.

IMG_3006

If you are suffering, do not be afraid to get help. In fact, you need to get help. Run to God, pray, read His word, and ask Him to direct you to the right doctors and the right treatment.

Blessings,
Angela

 

 

 

 

 

The Impending Doom – Relentless “Warnings”

FEELINGS

Good morning!

I guess Fridays have become my day to blog about anxiety. That’s fine!

In case you are just tuning in, I have dealt with OCD for most of my life with especially terrible bouts after having each of my kids (postpartum OCD).

In today’s post, I am hoping to give some of you obsessed Googlers out there just a little relief. (No offense, I was said obsessed Googler.)

Having an anxiety disorder is like being placed inside a nightmare. In a nightmare, you don’t know that it isn’t real but you wholeheartedly believe it is. Because it seems real at the time, you end up scared out of your whits until you wake up and realize, that thankfully it was all a dream.

Your brain is amazing. When you are in a real-life dangerous situation your brain sends you warning signals telling you to run! It’s a life-saving defense mechanism. But when you have a chemical imbalance, these “warnings” go into overdrive resulting in an ongoing feeling of doom and fear. There isn’t any real threat, but because you are overcome with the feeling that something terrible will happen, you wholeheartedly believe it! When you refrain from running because you happen to be, you know, trying to live life and be an active member of society, you are hit with sweat, rapid heart rate, dizziness, feeling faint, and all of the symptoms of impending death that does absolutely nothing to help the already existing anxiety but only makes it worse because now you think that if the office building doesn’t blow up any minute like you feel it will, your days are numbered anyway because there is obviously something physically wrong with you.

Man! My mind spends just reliving it! Haha!

But sufferer, rejoice! Those who deal with extreme anxiety, when they finally make it through to the other side, often times they actually end up mentally stronger than someone who never had to deal with it. This is because they have had to force themselves to live life for months or years on end through all-encompassing fear. I keep trying to describe it for those of you who do not have a chemical imbalance but it’s the kind of pain you can’t explain to someone that hasn’t gone through it. Like childbirth.

Hebrew 1211

So now, given you have a chemical imbalance, we have to remember that you cannot do much about that until you receive help (CBT, ERP, medication, etc.) just like a person with a broken leg likely can’t mend it without a cast (and think about trying to do that yourself!) This blog is not to take the place or professional help but is just a vessel to hopefully direct you to it and a place of encouragement and relief.

So here’s today’s “relief” message.

Your Feelings Lie To You All The Time

In our feelings driven society, our first response is to give significance to our feelings. Most people do this, not just those who have an anxiety disorder. Let me put your mind at ease, your feelings are not facts. They are feelings and they lie all the time. If the Lord wanted us to be led by our feelings, He wouldn’t have given us a written Bible.

When you receive a feeling, bad or good, do not be quick to believe it.

Challenge Your Thoughts!

When a thought comes into your mind, know that doesn’t mean it is true. Step back and challenge the thought. Your brain will try to prove that it is true so your job is to actively prove that it is NOT.

It takes work to do these things but when you do them day after day, guess what happens? Your brain begins making new pathways and begins thinking this way on its own! Isn’t that amazing? I am always so fascinated by how God has created us!

I hope you are at peace today, but if you aren’t, don’t give up! Pray, reach out, and know that there is a purpose in your pain.

Blessings,
Angela

Questions:

Have you suffered from an anxiety disorder? 

Have you ever had an anxiety attack?

Brave ones, describe your experience. Anxiety is a LONELY place. Please help those who are suffering now by sharing your story. 

 

 

 

 

The Searchlight of OCD

proverbs-1225.jpg

Happy Friday Friends!

I promised myself that once I made it through to the other side of the dark cloud of anxiety, I would tell my experiences so that some other obsessed Googler will happen upon them and be comforted.

Today I want to talk about the searchlight of OCD. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which the individual has repeated unwanted thoughts and is compelled by those thoughts to carry out certain behaviors to reduce or get rid of the thoughts temporarily.

Everyone, with or without OCD, has strange thoughts run through their mind. When waiting for a train at the station any given person may have a strange thought like, “What if I jumped in front of that train?”

But while the person without OCD immediately dismisses the thought and moves on with their day, there is a fear response that happens in the mind of the person with OCD. This fear response leads them to feel that there is significance to the thought. They begin to obsess about the train and may start to avoid train stations. They would then develop compulsions to deal with the obsessions in their mind. They may only walk into the train station at exactly 3:04 pm and stand 34 feet away from the train tracks until the train arrives. They do this because these numbers when added equal seven, a number that they have deemed safe. When the train arrives they take 25 steps up to the door making sure they sit in the seventh seat from the front.

As obvious as this all seems, someone can live for years in mental anguish without even knowing that they have OCD. The obsessions and compulsions are just a part of everyday life. It isn’t until trauma occurs or hormonal change like pregnancy occurs that the fear and anxiety becomes too unbearable to take on alone.

When I was struggling with OCD, I was sure that I had a reason to be so anxious about all of the things that I was obsessing about. Everywhere I looked there was proof. I couldn’t watch the news or be on the internet without having an anxiety attack that my fears were moments away from coming true. I couldn’t get through a conversation without crying because whomever I was speaking with never failed to say something that validated my worries. My stomach was constantly in knots and I felt that at any moment the proverbial piano was going to fall from the sky and crush me!

I shouldn’t have waited so long to get help but I did. I waited until I couldn’t shower for more than a few minutes without having to get out. On numerous occasions, I had to pull over to the side of the road and contemplate calling my husband to come to get me. Every time I walked into a grocery store everything would blur and I would feel like my legs were going to give out. Now not only did I have the focus of my obsessions to worry about but I thought I was dying too! The symptoms of anxiety are so physical!

I finally went to the doctor with dizziness and shortness of breath. The doctor asked me what was going on and of course, I burst into tears. He told me that he would do some blood work but that nothing was wrong with me. It was all in my head. I made an appointment to see a counselor the next week. God literally healed me through His word and this woman. I will tell you all the things that helped me because where I was, I never want anyone to be! So let’s begin with the searchlight.

See, all of this proof that I had for believing what I believed, as real as it was at the time, it was just my mental searchlight. When we are anxious our minds begin looking for proof of what we are worried about… and it finds it! So our anxiety grows and grows because we will keep seeing proof that isn’t really there.

So if this is you, next time you are watching TV or talking with a friend and that fear rises up inside of you because you are finding proof that your fears are valid, know that your mind is looking for that proof; no one else would see it. And second, make the conscious effort to find proof of the opposite. It takes practice but the more you do this the more your mind will begin finding proof of the opposite without you having to try.

I hope this finds you well! But if it doesn’t, know you aren’t alone and there is help to be found.

Blessings,
Angela

 

5 Thinking Hats Technique

Good Morning Peaches!

As you know, I am learning to manage and alleviate extreme anxiety. One thing that has helped is finally and sadly switching to decaf. Ugh, I did not want to do this because I love regular coffee but my nerves can no longer take it so I had to switch. 😦 This is ridiculous but I actually put it off for a long time because Jason and I both drink coffee at the same time every morning and it would be a lot of trouble to brew both. So, I went and did the only logical thing and bought two coffee makers!

IMG_20171015_221355
Problem solved!

But on a more serious note (although I bet you will feel less anxious drinking decaf), today I want to share with you the 5 Thinking Hats Technique. A big part of our anxiety is that we are unable to live in the moment, we are always thinking about the future or the past. The 5 Thinking Hats Technique is something I learned from recoveryformula.com and have found it amazingly helpful. The purpose of this technique is to bring you into the present. You will be so amazed at how much better you feel just by being mindful of the present moment! It’s so simple and it works.

All you do is when you feel anxiety symptoms coming on, identify five things in the room. Then identify four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell. Then think of one good thing about yourself.

Easy! Here is a cheat sheet.

5 Hats Technique

This has been a blessing to me and I hope it is to any of you anxiety sufferers out there as well. Let me know if you try it!

Peace to your Monday,
Angela

Question:

Have you tried the 5 Thinking Hats Technique?