Honestly, I was so mixed up, I hardly knew myself!
All of the sudden, activities I once enjoyed agitated me, projects I once looked forward to seemed impossible and places on my beaten path suddenly became off limits.
For instance, I struggled with going to the grocery store. Simply walking across the threshold made me tremble. As well, entering a restaurant alone was out of the question. The idea of encountering the unknown was something I couldn’t cope with. Painting, which was one of my favorite pastimes became burdensome. The details and the decisions left me empty and annoyed. Creating wreaths for my front door or decorating of any kind, which I once loved to do became drudgery and unimportant. Lastly and most telling was when I couldn’t even attend Brooke’s school functions.
Instead, of participating in Open House like all the other parents, I sat in the school parking lot tucked away in my car and cried. For so many reasons I cried. I cried because I couldn’t enter the building. I cried because I had changed. I cried because Samantha would never go to school again. And, I cried because my no-show might disappointment Brooke. Nor, would David fully understand my inability to join the other mothers.
I knew something was amiss, but for months and months, I couldn’t explain my own behavior. All I knew was I didn’t like it. In addition, I knew accepting it would only mean more isolation, more drama and more pain.
However, pinpointing the problem wasn’t an easy task. There was so much going on and so many reasons to be weary, I simply lacked the mental stamina to make sense of the mess.
It wasn’t until I was well enough, about 8 months after Sam’s accident that I began to search for a solution. I set out on a mission to understand myself. That is when I learned about ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). I discovered that trauma exasperates ANTs
producing stinging stressful feelings like fear, anxiousness, jumpiness, edginess, agitation, bad memories, and causes abnormal behaviors to avoid painful reminders.
When ANTs are activated, it is like putting a pie out at a picnic. The ANTs crawl in, over and throughout the sweet stuff. Soon, they take over and create their own colony. When ANTs consume our thoughts they have the potential to produce ANXIETY! Inside the affected person this feels like an onslaught of dread, doubt and it has the power to drive a person to their knees and keep them there if the ANTs go unmatched.
As I read the research, the words mirrored my behavior. I related to each symptom and replied, “That’s me!” to every descriptive detail. Finally, I found confirmation I wasn’t going crazy. The articles gave credence to what I was going through. As well, they offered exercises to erase the ANTs from one’s thinking. I understood their suggestions and agreed their advice carried potential for a cure. However, I knew that a medical dissertation wasn’t my best resource for a remedy.
With a better understanding of what I was experiencing, I picked up my Bible and consulted with the the oldest and wisest Authority. That is when I began to own the truth and the strength found in the 4th scripture in our series :
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives power, love and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 2:7
I pondered the passage through and through, breaking it down into sections and stringing the phrases back together. Then, I worked to absorb the entire message.
It was then that God showed me that my negativity had nothing to do with Him. I accepted that anytime I felt barreled over by bad thoughts, it was because I wasn’t allowing the spirit of Christ to come forward. Instead, my panic attacks were allowing a creepy voice to take control of my thoughts.
After much meditation, I became aware that my fears, my anxiety, my edginess and my emptiness all gained a foothold when I failed to envision God in my future. – Tweet This!
It was when I left Him out of the picture, here and now, then and there and with whatever was to come that I fell apart.
Once I realized this, whether I was going to the store, entering a school building, investing in a adventure or starting something new, I increased my awareness and invited the Spirit of God to overwhelm me. I prayed, asking that love snuff out any feelings of loss. I prayed fervently for the self-discipline and mental awareness needed to overcome anxiety and I opened myself up to the power that is promised to a Holy spirit.
Each time I went about my activities, my ability to overcome increased. Each time I chanted the scripture my self-discipline grew stricter.
With each event that was preceded by angst, I pressed in until my perspective became more positive and eventually my weariness turned into warriorism. -Tweet This!
I was shining my shield to deflect the fiery darts.
The victorious outcome wasn’t immediate. Instead learning to overcome anxiety was something that I worked to refine over months. I often encountered a fretful event, but I learned to always ask Jesus, “What would YOU tell me about this?”
After coming up with a few comments I thought Jesus would offer during my time of distress, I worked to incorporate His wise council into my conscious thoughts. I failed at this many times before I finally began to get it right. However, when I did figure out how to ask Jesus to accompany me in the present and to portray Him in my future, my life became more manageable. The level of unease decreased and by ability to live increased.
Five years later, when situations causes me to stir on the inside, I reach inside of my trauma tool kit and repeat the truth found in 2 Timothy 2:7 until the attack of negativity is trumped by the spirit God gave me. As the minutes pass, the madness in my mind is tamed by the the words of the scripture.
It is true, the feelings of fear and anxiety that held me captive were warranted and real, powerful and possessive. However, I have come to appreciate they can be managed, man-handled and put to rest by the truth of the Almighty.
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