What I Learned After Two Weeks of Panic
On April 29th at 5:30am, I drove myself to the emergency room due to having panic symptoms for about seven hours. They ran comprehensive tests and exams and ruled out anything serious. I spent the next 14 or so days stuck in 24/7 fight or flight mode, unable to eat, diarrhea, racing heart, dread. Many sleepless nights pacing the hallway of my small house and walking around in my backyard.
I've never really dealt with anxiety or panic attacks in my life, but over the years I have had some severe pain due to my health issues and I think my body just got trained to freak out when I start feeling a pain that I think might get out of control. Also, I am entering perimenopause and that might have brought about some changes quickly.
It was the worst period of my life. I felt like I would never experience joy, happiness or a care free feeling again. My doctors prescribed blood pressure beta blocker medication to help dull the racing heart and keep the heart from being affected by the constant adrenaline. It made me feel every sensation in my veins and arteries and kept me from sleep which all made the panic worse. I immediately tapered off to get off of it. They gave me hydroxyzine and trazadone which made me feel so dead to the world that I knew I could never live a life depending on any of the meds.
Being in a panic attack is a very lonely feeling. To feel such horrible dread and apprehension, to feel the chest pains and feeling like your heart is failing. My mom told me I could come to her for prayer at any time that I needed, even if it was at 5am.
It was during those many prayer sessions that I felt God move me through stages of rejection and disappointment to finally victory and grasping anew His love for me. I wanted to be fixed immediately, because I felt like my life was over if I didn't get better now. We fought against the enemy and most of the time when I left her home, I felt better for most of the day. I saw how effective prayer really is.
I also watched YouTube videos from the channel Therapy In a Nutshell, that helped me see that while feelings of panic and anxiety feel very dangerous, I was not in danger. I was safe. I learned a lot of tools through her videos.
I went to sleep with earbuds in to scripture readings. I claimed verses about casting all my cares and anxieties to the Lord and I held Him to those promises of peace and rest.
I started taking a tincture of hawthorn, motherwort and hibiscus from The Herbal Toad for my blood pressure and saw immediate improvement. I was no longer in the hypertensive phase. When my appetite improved, I stuck to high protein meals (meats, eggs) with fruit. I've not had caffeine for nearly a month now and only drink water and medicinal herb infusions.
For a while, once the sun began to set and around 6:45 -7pm the horrible dread would set back in. I might have felt ok most of the day. I had begun to dread bedtime because I didn't know if I would spend the slow dark hours feeling panicked. I knew that I needed to establish new brain patterns during this time, so I started spending the evenings out in my backyard from sunset until total darkness. I watched the sky. I listened to worship music and Daily Lectionary readings. I prayed and reclaimed what the enemy had stolen. I asserted my standing as a child of God. I took all anxiety and fear captive in the name of Jesus. I stopped watching or listening to anything that was negative, depressing, or dark. My one word for the year was JOY and I felt like the enemy was trying to steal it from me.
When all feels lost, you see what is truly valuable. Being able to have lighthearted moments with my kids had felt impossible those weeks but I have them again. Last weekend, my kids spent a lot of time outside and together with me which is kind of unusual these days with teens, but it was exactly what my heart and spirit needed. I'm also being intentional about doing activities that I enjoy and find restorative, like gardening, taking care of my animals, reading, and decorating.
My mother was my lifeline with her sacrificial love for me. To be completely open to me needing prayer and engaging in spiritual warfare opened her up to spiritual attack and weariness. I am so thankful that she lives here and was there for me. I will be this kind of mother to my own kids. Someone who will fight to the ends of the earth for victory.
I never quite understood what people went through with anxiety and panic. I have a new sense of compassion and empathy for those who are struggling with these horrible feelings. I see that anxiety does not define you and you can be delivered from it.
Our heavenly Father uses suffering in this life to refine us and all things work together for good. I definitely have felt His hand supporting me and bringing me comfort through this. He has increased my faith and refocused my focus and my mothering and I am so thankful for that.