I didn’t want to take showers anymore because I knew that I would find something wrong. I would start the water and my stomach would fill with the little knives of anxiety. My heart race, my breath shorten. Somewhere along the way on my road of depression and grief, I had developed a trigger that said, “You get in and this time you’ll find a lump.”
I would get in because, well, it would be gross to never shower again and I had some sort of dignity left even though fear and anxiety had become my BFF’s. It was strange to be experiencing fear at such a pronounced level. I mean, I think any woman gives at least some thought to finding something in the shower every now and then, but what I was going through was not like that. I could hardly muster up the courage to get in the water.
Patsy Clairmont says in her book, You are More Than You Know,
“Fear suggests that it came on suddenly when actually it’s been setting up housekeeping inside of us most of our lives. Satan has just been waiting for a situation where he would catch us off guard and set off fear explosives.”
I felt like all the fears, the paranoia, the hypochondria episodes, were sudden, pouncing on me like a lion on an unsuspecting meal. Not so true. Those fears had really actually been there inside me. Maybe somewhat dormant, easy to ignore and control. But, once my life had been uprooted from my home and I went spiralling into depression, those fears were unleashed and grew to the size of monsters. Satan absolutely took advantage of my situation and went on a full out war to get me to surrender to crazy. He dropped fear bombs on me and left me wounded and crying in pain.
My showers were quick. I would slide the soap bar over my breasts and make sure I didn’t linger on them very long. Or, I would just indulge the fear and do a 20 min examination on myself, shaking and knowing things were going to go wrong. Once I was “in the clear” I could go on with my shower and be done with it…until I cycled again.
My fears weren’t limited to just my boobs. I would feel anything weird and know I was doomed. It was appalling to me that normal aches and pains could send me into days of worry and self-medication (wine). A pinch at ovulation. A not-so-normal bowel movement. A headache. Even though each had a rational explanation, it didn’t matter, my emotions won the battle of my mind. The more I stressed about things, the more I believed things were happening, the more my physical body actually acted weird. I had pins and needles. I had weakness and my arms felt limp. I was sore down my neck and arms. I thought my legs weren’t working right. And, I more than once went to see my nurse practitioner/friend and tried to play it cool until she flat out said, “You’re a hypochondriac.”
I had spiraled and spun and cycled into an all out worry wart about my health, all while dealing with depression and two more moves after we got to Nashville. I would try and stay away from Google, because we all know every symptom of everything could be the common cold or you’re dead in seven days.
Listen: STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE! (unless you need an answer to some trivia question like, “Who’s the best ping-pong player of all time?”)
I researched my brains out on how to heal the mind. Ordered supplements, read books and articles, listened to my NP on what were the best natural ways to balance my chemicals and feed my brain.
I took them religiously, some of which I still do.
But, there was no magic pill. No right supplement combination that got me through. They were a great part and a good part, no doubt. Feeding my brain with good brain food was a step in the right direction. Talking walks in the sun were great as well. But, the biggest factor to my healing was…
You thought I was going to say Jesus, didn’t you? But, notice, I said factor. I didn’t say agent.
Here’s some fun dictionary stuff.
Factor: one of the elements contributing to a particular result or situation.
Agent: a person or thing or acts or has the power to act.
Time was indeed my greatest factor. It was one of the best elements that contributed to a result of healing. But, Jesus, he is the only person who had the power to act and heal.
In that time, I would fall and weep and tell him I couldn’t do it. I thought I would never be normal again. The fear and anxiety was too great and I just needed to move home to Oklahoma and drink wine and all would be okay.
But, when the wine wore off and there were no boxes to be packed, I was still there with my fears, and my grief, and my depression. I think somewhere along the way in our super speedy way of living, we think that we can come through things faster, or that we should come through them really fast, and in a tweet sized way. Quick, short and easy. “This too shall pass” we say, but how long that takes is different for each of us. And usually, we want it to pass quickly.
There isn’t a day I can look to back and say, “Huh! I’m not a freak anymore!” I can’t tell you when the paralyzing grip stopped choking me, but I can tell you it did stop. I was persistent with God. I clung to Him and told Him I trusted Him over and over. I read the Word and had a few safe friends who knew what was going on. I confided in my mom. I saw a counselor and was honest with my husband. I sat. I stared. I read. I wept. I believed that God was greater than my situation and actually got to where I could say, “This won’t last forever.”
The fear let go.
The paralyzing cycle of what-if’s quit playing in my head.
The assurance of a faithful God even if my worst nightmare happened began to take the place of struggling to believe I would be normal again.
The grief of losing the life I thought I would have released, and I accepted this journey He had me on.
I quit waking up in knots.
I quit reaching for the bottle.
Slept all night.
To open back up from being so tight in fear is like the slow opening like a flower to the sun. It’s a process, an unfolding, and exposure to the Truth-Light until you’re all the way open to the fresh goodness of God, a new perspective on life, and a newfound firm place to stand.
This is what coming out of fear feels like.
I won’t lie and say I never fear anything ever! because, well, I’d be lying. But, I can say that fear doesn’t call the shots. Fear doesn’t tell me that I’m crazy and that I’ll never be free. Fear no longer leads me through my day like a whipped puppy. Fear isn’t my boss, Christ and His Word are!
Your journey holding hands with depression and fear can come to an end.
And trust the Agent of healing through a long factor of time.
For a more in-depth look at how to be free from fear read Patsy’s book, You are More than You Know. Available on Amazon. Just click the book title!