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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Limitless

Okay so, I don't really have a Tuesday 5 for you today, because as I was cutting up my grapefruit into beautiful segments...(I lie, they were all busted up and scraped out of their rinds, with juice dribbling down my hands and wrists), I was thinking a lot about my anxiety.  I have dealt with it for what, 3 years now, I think, maybe 2 1/2.

I was thinking about how it's actually probably a good thing that I'm not in a more high pressure sort of job.  What if I had become an ER doctor and developed anxiety?  How could I have helped people in life and death situations if I was anxious about my own mortality and my own medical needs?  On the other hand, I would have had a bunch of doctor friends that probably wouldn't charge me much for the occasional paranoid CT scan...hmm.  I got a little bummed thinking about this because I was viewing my anxiety in terms of how it has limited me.

Believe me, I'll be the first to tell you that anxiety hit me like a frickin' sucker punch, right to the gut and chest.  It didn't come on slowly.  Before 2 1/2 years ago, I was a (moderately) sane person.  I was still scared of heights and got the occasional vertigo, but the most that hampered me in Kansas was not being able to climb up to the Capitol dome.

Oh, anxiety has limited me in a number of ways, but I believe that it has also given me several blessings in disguise.

I am much more conscious of the things that I view and if they will be positive or negative.  I do a lot more things outside of sitting and watching TV.  I found more, varied hobbies that I didn't realize I would enjoy.  I am much more aware of the things I put in my body, food wise.  I am hyper aware of the medication that I take and how it affects me and my mood.  I think that these are all positive consequences of anxiety.  The two most positive things about having anxiety?  I have changed my way of thinking about this world and the next.  I have grown closer to God and learned to trust in Him more than ever.

I think deeper thoughts than I did before.  I mean, I never before truly contemplated death and how it would feel or what would happen afterward.  This is one of the best/worst aspects of anxiety, that ability to conjure up the topic that will make you feel the shittiest.  Mine is death.  Death is frightening and thinking about it, as a person with anxiety, would nearly make me have an attack as soon as I did.  However, working through this stressor has actually brought me a lot of relief, because I know I am prepared.  Okay, so how can you ever TRULY be prepared?  You can't, but, you can make sure that you have forgiven your enemies and told your family and friends that you love them and requested forgiveness from God for the things you have done.  You prepare mentally and spiritually, because anxiety will deceive you into believing that death is around every corner.  When you think like that, you plan on how to make sure you don't die with hate on your heart.

I pray like I have never prayed before.  I ask Mary and the saints to help me with every little thing now.  I ask God for all kinds of stuff I never would have asked before, because now I understand the purpose of prayer.  It isn't to just ask for material things to receive or even for people to get better or
for things to turn out differently, it's to be united with God in a quiet moment and recognizing that you can give it to Him because He has, and will always, carry that burden for us.  I know that I have increased in humility and meekness (believe it or not).  I pray for causes and people in new ways.  I pray for God to invade the souls of the people who wish to do others harm.  I pray for mercy for people most would say don't deserve it.  I pray for safety and protection of my family and friends, but most of all, I pray that God will inflame my heart with even greater love for Him.  This is the power of anxiety.

Anxiety has pushed me to the brink.  There were moments where I just wasn't sure how I was going to make it through the night.  I was scared of everything.  When you're scared of everything, how do you truly live?

When I try to explain to people how bad it was and my lowest moment, I always go back to the bathtub.  That moment when I had anxiety so badly that the only thing that could relieve it was literally sitting in a tub of warm water, with the shower head on, pouring even hotter water over me.  I would shut it off for 20 minutes to let it warm back up, then turn it back on.  Over and over and over again, for nearly 3 hours, I did this.

My lowest point, the nadir of my journey, the bathtub, was where I met God face to face.  I cried and prayed and begged for relief.  He has salvaged my soul and helped me grow spiritually in a way that I was limited by without the anxiety.

Huh, imagine that.

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