There she stood with her heart racing, hands sweating, and her stomach tied in knots. It wasn’t unusual for her to feel this way. She had lived most of her early years anxious over the smallest of circumstances. For her, it was normal to live with anxiety. She did not have a name for what she felt, only paralyzing emotions within herself. She was a child, and did not have the proper skill set to identify what was happening inside her body. She feared most everything. The list was endless…fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of disappointing others, fear of the unknown, etc. She held it inside herself neatly placed in the corner of her mind and thought something must be wrong with her. Normal people don’t live this way, right?
As she grew older, she found herself intrigued by human behavior. She decided to major in Sociology/Psychology in College as well as a two year degree in Practical Ministry (whatever that means 😊❤️). How can one person have a completely different response than another when faced with the same stimuli/circumstance? Was it possible to “rewire” the brain and change our base nature? It didn’t seem plausible for a glass half empty gal to suddenly put on her positivity pants. There had to be a catalyst she thought. Something that triggered a completely different response than previous circumstances. But what could change someone’s base nature? She was convinced sheer desperation or even devastation may be the key.
In time, her question was answered during a long tumultuous season of sickness in her life. Suddenly, she found herself suffering from an incurable chronic illness(POTS). The catalyst she speculated would bring deep change launched her into a space of complete unfamiliarity . Her world was rocked, flipped upside down and she could no longer function normally. She begged for God to take away her sickness. She cried tears of sorrow and loss. She mourned the life she once had in order to embrace the new life ahead. Somehow, somewhere in the midst of the most difficult season of her life, she found her answers. Never would she have imagined a physical ailment would lead her to emotional freedom.
The irony of her physical limitations along with mental stress leading her to freedom, was unorthodox in her mind. How can one’s prison (physical illness) lead to a transforming freedom she had never experienced? She wanted to jump around and dance with this new perspective, yet her body failed her. Her body was fighting to stabilize. Her mind and body felt completely disconnected. There had to be a malfunction somewhere and in time learned she had an autonomic dysfunction. Everything that happens without thinking about it suddenly became a chore. She lost control of her body, but her mind was still processing everything.
Nothing happened overnight. It took time to understand what was happening within her. She was desperately fighting for her health, while simultaneously seeing the shackles that had held her hostage for so long suddenly loosen. She had been set free! She had a peace that logically made no sense. She wasn’t better, but she was healing from the inside out. She allowed herself to be vulnerable as she shared her heart. She found many others felt the same way, but like herself were paralyzed by fear, anxiety, doubt, etc.
This prompted her to share more. Her journey may have been unique to her, but there were thousands of others fighting a similar battle. God had given her hope in an often hopeless community. Hopeless because they were told over and over they would not ever get better. It takes great determination to continue fighting a seemingly endless battle. She struggled at times just like everyone else. Yet she always came back to the chance things could improve, and that mixed with her faith kept her going.
By this point, I am sure you have guessed I was the young girl living with anxiety daily. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing childhood. This just happened to be an area larger than myself and my silence about it did not help. As I reflect upon the life I have lived thus far, I can now see where anxiety kept me from trying certain activities because of my fear of failure. My vision was compromised by all the “what ifs”. The very circumstances I thought would ruin me became the catalyst for my heart to be changed. Even in sickness, God has blessed our family. I still deal with anxiety, but not even close to the level I once struggled. I no longer worry so much about the why, when, where and how. They don’t hold the value I gave them previously. I find my time better used sharing the hope I have been given with others, spending the quality time I can with my family, and interacting with my Pots friends and non pots friends.
In fact, I feel compelled to share my story. Not because it is special, but rather relatable to many. When you live daily with anxiety, adding a chronic illness is a recipe for disaster. My life could have easily spun wildly out of control. Instead, I felt as though a protective covering came over me and I knew I didn’t have to live in a state of anxiety all the time. I could breathe again. I felt the burden begin to be lifted from my chest.
If you suffer from anxiety like I do, know there is hope. You don’t have to suffer alone. I asked God to help me where I couldn’t help myself, and that is exactly what He did. I share my story to let you know, you don’t have to live in constant fear and anxiousness. I know our bodies are thrown into fight of flight often without any stimuli or circumstance. It’s beyond frustrating. But, I am proof an anxiety ridden person living with a chronic illness, can still live with peace for today and have hope for tomorrow. Don’t give up!