Thank you for joining us on our Navigating Worry course, if you’re just linking in now, the free, online course can be found here
And finally! Elaine’s story…
The word I dislike the most is process. To me, it means long-suffering, pondering, unsettled, unrest. When I look for answers, and the answer is “well, it’s a process,” my heart sinks. Knowing this about me has made the “process” of being “unwell” significantly harder than it maybe should have been. Being defined by others as being strong, confident, and reliable – only made this “process” worse.
In 2016 I was diagnosed with a disorder that took my sight, my mind as I knew it and, what I miss the most – my confidence.
I would go on to describe it as someone taking my world and throwing it up in the air just to see what and where the pieces would land. It would never look the same, it was different, and my process started. Who was I if I couldn’t read, remember details of our world, remember to pick up kids, recipes, remember songs or what year my kids were born.
Who are you when the mind you’ve relied on so strongly is gone and what feels like an only whisper is left? Who is around you to remind you of who you are? What coping strategies are needed for you to be safe in your own skin never mind looking after others?
To this day, I remain frustrated at moments with this process, yet writing this makes me realize just how far I have come.
How has anxiety played into this?
At first, I didn’t know it was anxiety. That was for weak people, I am strong – it can’t be that. I can hear my judgemental thoughts even now. The injury my brain sustained most don’t statistically live from. It means that even to this day or until I am healed, I can’t handle certain lights, sounds, environments, without significant coping skills and “outs.” So at first, I was able to view my obsessive thoughts and control as, just that, coping skills. I was being seen by 14 professionals who couldn’t agree on literally anything. They then put me with a brain trust worker who helped me work through what I later learned was PTSD. After a few seizures, the ministry was pulled in to make sure I was capable of taking care of our 5 kids. A supervisor when I showered, and a minor car accident with a doctor telling me I may never drive again.
What was left?
I left the house with industrial ear plugs, blue glasses to block out any light and little communication. It’s amazing how invisible you can make yourself when you try. I would go out as little as possible to avoid explaining myself to anyone, why I was different? Why I couldn’t remember their name? Why I wasn’t ‘Elaine’ anymore?
One day in Costco, I remember the devastated face of a grade 2 girl I knew from a classroom I helped in. I remembered her as a girl that helped me lead chapel each week for two years. I couldn’t find her name – it was there somewhere like alphabet soup. I stood there blank, then started to cry. I vowed to try and avoid kids that looked familiar, which became everyone. I became more and more isolated. I couldn’t find people who could relate, few understood and the feeling that most just wanted “me” back.
Anxiety for me has presented as a crippling fear that has impacted each minute of each day. When I found myself trying to control each little detail. I was taught to stop, analyze each thought, and discuss it with one of my safe team members. It often looked irrational- anxiety often does. Healing twice from PTSD has taught me that healing is often, not always, fourfold. You are made of a body, mind, soul, and spirit, healing needs to happen in each area. So prayer, reciting scripture, implementing strategies, and calming my physical body has all been apart of my coping.
This isn’t a one size fits all.
For me, I need to escape the situation when I get overwhelmed, communicate with the safe people around me, implement CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I speak truth and scripture into the space and then trust in the God who made me to see me through.
Easy peasy right?
Here’s an example with a bit of back story. The trial was carried out with Pres syndrome (my illness) with a case study of 25 people, within six months, fifteen of them died. This left the study without enough members to continue. Each time I experience a migraine, tingly arm, sore back, you name it … I hear these statistics. It’s true – yup, it’s real – yup – and I serve a God who is bigger and stronger than those.
I take time to assess my physical body, what do I need, doctor, medicine, ER, I speak to a safe person to see if I am “over the top,” I pray for healing over my body and peace for my mind. Each time my thoughts get away from me, I will sometimes allow one or two but catch myself before I spiral. I pray like crazy to receive wisdom and discernment to know what steps to take next.
Trust. I truly don’t know how people do this world without knowing that there is a Saviour. Who sees and hears every need, who is ever-present and available, and completely faithful every single time.
Every …… single ……. time …..
My prayer for you; a peaceful mind, a calm spirit, a healthy body, and a restful soul.
Meditate and Memorise ‘Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.’ Romans 8:26-28
Listen: Cornerstone, Hillsong
Listen: Alleluia, Upper Room – my go to when I have no words.
Anxiety Playlist: Created for us by Joshua Leventhal
A few other helpful resources
https://abide.co Abide, is the world’s most popular Christian meditation app, guiding hundreds of thousands of people around the world in Biblical truth and personal reflection.
This new app, ‘Switch,’ is an excellent tool for helping you deal with the root cause of your anxiety. It is based on Caroline Leaf’s 5-step program, which is designed to help you identify and eliminate the root of your anxiety, and help you build healthy new thinking habits through the mental process of reconceptualization.
https://pray-as-you-go.org Pray As You Go is a daily prayer session, designed to go with you wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc. A new prayer session is produced every day of the working week and one session for the weekend. It is not a ‘Thought for the Day,’ a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer.
Divine hours. A form of prayer at specified times to be used by individuals or groups. The Divine Hours includes morning, midday, vespers (evening) and compline (before retiring) offices, having roots in the biblical tradition.
https://hope4mentalhealth.com/about/stories More stories of hope to encourage you.
You are loved,