Don’t Worry About It…

I have anxiety, and it sucks.  I wish, with all my heart, that I could just let go and let be…but I can’t.  I want to control situations, know everything, and ask as many questions as I can because I want to be prepared for every single second…yea…I know.  But you know what bugs me the most!?!  When someone says, “Just stop worrying about it…”  Really?!?!  That’s not helpful, at all.  Okay, here’s something for you.  Don’t think about an elephant.  NO MATTER WHAT, do NOT think about an elephant.  I mean thinking about an elephant is just not good for you.  When you think about an elephant you lose focus, your self-esteem goes down, and sometimes you can become irrational…So, please, try your best, and don’t think about an elephant…okay?  Hmm…I wonder what came to mind after reading that…you see my point?

I don’t like having this feeling, and need, to know every single detail, but the unknown is just so scary for me.  Typically, when people become anxious about the unknown, they can rationalize and process through those feelings in a fairly healthy manner.  For Christians, they can just trust that God has it under control, and that He will provide for them as planned.  I believe that, too.  However, I also have trust issues; even with the big man upstairs…

You see, anxiety is not biological or inherited.  It is actually environmental and can be maintained (with A LOT of practice and time).  It mostly involves being aware of your mind and acknowledging what’s going on with your thoughts.  The key is to being aware that certain thoughts will be there, but that they don’t have to stop you from living or experiencing life.  And they certainly don’t have to control the way you react or respond-you can have some say in that.  I know, sounds very ‘therapy like’…I mean it is helpful; I just have to remember that God is truly the only one who can calm my heart and pull me away from the enemies lies.

Anyway, the first time I learned that anxiety was environmental is when I was in my outpatient therapy.  As soon as I heard those words, I couldn’t find blame anywhere, but within me.  It immediately gave me this sense of responsibility and guilt at the same time.  Responsibility meaning:  I can manage this and I need to.  Guilt meaning:  your the reason for all the problems in your life (clearly not from God…).  My therapists, however, did acknowledge for me, that my anxiety formed out of being raised in a hostile environment (being in constant fear for my parents and our lives, in all aspects).  Not that this is where my blame is to be-no, but that it is a dominant factor.  I didn’t have anyone else in my life I could go to, and ask about what I experienced on a daily bases.  I just sat with those feels, those fears, and those questions.  I worried constantly.  Psychologically speaking, this is where I started to develop an irrational filter for processing situations.  Until now, I haven’t actually been taught anything different…

Growing up I cried about 4 out of 7 nights a week.  Angry, frustrated, confused, scared etc.  Most nights, I would wait until my alcoholic Dad came home (or I would be awaken by him slamming the door) and I would listen… Listen to his footsteps, how the floor sounded as he walked across it, what he was mumbling, how he seemed.  I could tell right away what kind of mood he was in, and how the night was going to go…Sometimes, though, my predictions were wrong.  He would often go into my Mom’s room, and wake her up. He would always ask her stupid questions, telling her stories she didn’t care about, and yelling at her because she wasn’t attentive to him…at 3 A.M.  This went on almost every single night growing up.  And every single night, I would hear every single thing they said, and how they behaved.  Worried, I quickly invented a tactic to distract my Dad.  I would get up and walk to the bathroom (which meant I had to walk past my Mom’s room), and subtlety remind my Dad that his food was in the microwave, in the kitchen.  Most of the time, that would redirect him enough to grab it and go downstairs (where he slept) to go to sleep.  My room was right above his and I knew I was successful, when he would turn on the T.V. (very loudly mind you) and proceed to call some ‘buddy’ of his and talk like a 14 year old girl all night…This, is usually what I fell asleep to…Anyway, that was just part of where it all began.  There is so much more in-between…

Oh boy, do I digress…My point in my rambling is this: I  had an anxiety attack today.  I couldn’t control what was happening (or going to happen) and it freaked me out.  However, it also made me realize, once again – I do not have control of anyone or anything around me – I only have control of myself and what I do…but even that, I don’t have full control of.  Just like my childhood, or the events in my life since (especially those two miscarriages);  I couldn’t stop that, and I can’t stop what is ahead…

So, I leave you with this Bible verse that says it all…

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Until next time…Adios

-S-

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Worry About It…

  1. Sarah,

    You speak with great wisdom. You are really getting in touch with yourself in a way many people never do. As I read this, my heart weeps for little Sarah. How stressful those years were for you. I remember the first time you told me about your upbringing. We were at Panera. Ever since then, you amaze me with all that you have accomplished and all that you have gone through. I am sorry for all of the challenges you have had. I am not sure what else to say. God is obviously at work in you. When you speak of environmental causes, I immediately think the opposite of what you expressed. I think of the fact that the circumstances of your environment past and present are the basis, not within you. I agree with you that all you can control is yourself…and that also requires the strength and faith that only He can give. You can’t manufacture it…just pray for it and listen for His voice. I think you are stronger than you think. When the enemy tells you lies about yourself…Recognize the lie, Reject it, and Replace it with God’s Truth. I love you so much. You have taught me a lot about anxiety. After your hospitalization, your taught me some of what you had learned. One of the things you taught me was the importance of breathing during an anxiety attack. I used that information this past fall to support my daughter-in-law when she was having an anxiety attack that took us to the ER. Thank you! It really helped her.

    Love,

    Carol

  2. Thank you, Carol, for your lovely comments! You know, I think that I wrote out my thoughts wrong when I was talking about anxiety being environmental. I was just writing and I didn’t really edit well. Oops! What I meant was this: we are not born a phobic, a worrier, a panicker, or someone destined to be trapped in obsessional thoughts and ritualistic acts. We are also not born with anxiety disorders. Our genetics can contribute a percentage to your anxiety problem (which in turn makes you more vulnerable), but inheriting an anxious predisposition isn’t the same as inheriting an anxiety disorder. Basically, the bulk of what makes anxiety a psychiatric problem has nothing to do with your biology or genetics. It mostly has to do with how you relate with your anxiety and fear – what you do about your anxious thoughts and feeling; hence, how you respond to your environment. Like I mentioned in my blog, all those factors in my environment, as a child, really did have a direct impact on my ability to filter and process – or lack there of. The anxious feelings and behaviors started when I was young (because of my environment) and just kept being built on top of each other. That, however, was not my fault – in anyway. As an adult now, looking back, there should have been someone I could have talked with to help me understand or cope with what was happening in my home. That’s not on me, that’s on my parents. As I got older though, and started realizing my irrational responses towards people, I knew I could have made better choices. I had the capability to understand and breakdown why I was feeling the way I was feeling, and doing what I was doing. But I ignored it. I ignored serious issues that had developed inside me, because I was too afraid to deal with them. Even though I hurt many people around me, I just looked the other way and tried to move on. Yea, that clearly helped!

    Anyway, because God intervened, I was able to get the help I needed this past year. And what I meant by feeling a sense of responsibility after learning that anxiety was not biological or hereditary, is that for so long, I knew something was wrong, but I chose not to address it. I have a ‘mental’ disorder, but it’s not the type of mental disorder that I can’t fix. This is something I can actually manage, through lots of work. I can’t continue to make excuses for my behavior or attitude anymore. I have to start being accountable for me – with God’s help and guidance, of course. 🙂 Hope that helps clear up what I meant!

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