Do you suffer from anxiety? You’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the US or about 18% of the population. There are many different types of anxiety which I will cover in a separate post. First, I wanted to talk about a way to help S.T.O.P. your anxiety.
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A Little Background
I was initially diagnosed with anxiety in 2010. I thought I was having a heart attack. It felt like my heart was coming out of my chest, I was clammy, dizzy, nauseous, and just felt awful. My husband took me to urgent care, they ran an EKG, which was normal, and said it was an anxiety attack due to all the stress I was under. I was prescribed anxiety medication and told to reduce my stress.
At that point I was homeschooling my three young boys, taking care of my dying mother-in-law, and trying to work part-time. I was under a lot of stress, but I had been doing this for awhile. It took me a little off guard.
I have always been called the “worry-wart” and been told I worried too much. Just my personality.
As the years have gone by, I have been able to look back and realize the anxiety probably started much earlier, and I just didn’t know that it wasn’t “normal” to feel this way.
My parents divorced when I was 10, so that added stress. I never liked staying by myself. I was bullied in school…all the way through high school.
I guess the years and years of anxiety finally caught up with me.
A little over this first “attack,” my mother-in-law passed away of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. This made my anxiety worse. She was my sidekick, and it was difficult to have her gone.
The medicine seemed to help a little; it at least took the edge off of me. I continued with homeschooling and working part-time. But the anxiety continued to get worse.
In 2013 we moved to a different city, buying a larger house to have my father-in-law move in with us. The move was stressful, but we enjoyed having him with us. It also allowed him to visit family members across the states and not worry about keeping up a house.
But within six months, his cancer had returned (he had his prostate removed in 2001; then had radiation therapy around 2006 when the PSA levels went up again). He passed away suddenly while visiting family in Florida. We had just talked to him by FaceTime a few days before, so this was a huge shock to all of us.
My husband was the executor of his will, and it was difficult to take care of everything needing to be done; especially when he was distributing across 14 kids.
Not too long after this, I started having all sorts of other symptoms, starting with ankle pain that then radiated up the leg to the hip, which then radiated across to the other hip and later down that leg.
Long story short, I am still trying to figure out what is going on after many, many tests. I feel like I have been poked, prodded, electrocuted, injected, magnetized. You name it; I’ve probably had that test. No MS. No ALS. I’m “normal” according to all the medical tests, yet I can’t walk more than 2 minutes without my legs decided that they have worked enough and spasming uncontrollably (called clonus).
I use a walker or a scooter whenever I leave the house. I’ve been denied disability multiple times, and we are still fighting. And now everyone is wondering if the anxiety is just the symptom of something else.
All of this to say, I still have anxiety.
What Have I Tried?
So, what have I done to try to help? First I started with my primary physician. She put me on anxiety medication. It didn’t seem to help, so we tried 4 or 5 different ones before she referred me to a psychiatrist.
I started seeing a psychiatrist. He has had to try many different medications because nothing seems to work well. Some made me feel like a zombie because I would just sleep all day. Others didn’t help.
I’ve seen a therapist. She helps me to talk through things. But then she retired, and I’ve had to see a new one for the past six months. It has been a hard adjustment to rehash some things and almost start over.
I’ve read books, many books. Some were so generic that they weren’t helpful at all. Then recently, I read Max Lucado’s new book, Anxious For Nothing. While I was reading it, something seemed to click.
He used C.A.L.M.: Celebrate God’s goodness, Ask God for help, Leave your concerns with God, and Meditate on good things. This is a great acronym to help with stress. He finally made me feel that it was okay to be Christian and have anxiety. Nobody is perfect.
He also focused on Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all [a]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)
S.T.O.P. Your Anxiety
This got me thinking. I have a hard time memorizing, and I needed something that worked better for me than the long acronym by Lucado. I came up with a new acronym: S.T.O.P.
S: Seize It
T: Tie it up
O: Offer it to God
With so much floating around in my head, I need to be able to find a way to release it. This can go for more than just anxiety. My mind is like a computer monitor with 1,000 different pop-ups, each wanting my attention at the same time. It is hard for me to ever think of nothing.
But, I’m learning that I need to let it go. I know someone coined the phrase, “Let go; Let God.” I’ve always liked that phrase. But it still was hard for me to do.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you.” (NIV)
This is one of many verses I like to read. He cares for me! He cares for you! And he wants to S.T.O.P. your anxiety. So, try to S.T.O.P. Seize for anxiety (or any concern). Tie it up (use string, twine, whatever). Offer it to God (he wants to take it from us. And most importantly, Pray.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing” (ESV). We don’t always need a formal prayer. Just a quick, “I need your help, Lord” will suffice.
Am I cured? No. I still suffer daily, hourly. I am trying to put S.T.O.P. into action, and when I feel anxious, I try to remember to put it in the Lord’s hands. I think this will be an ongoing battle, but one I’m not willing to give up on. The Lord will provide. I just need to remember to let Him help.
Take a little time, think about whatever is troubling you, and S.T.O.P. your anxiety.
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