Acute, or recent onset anxiety attacks are not a life sentence. You can and will get back to normal life if you are willing to take the time to deal with the underlying issue. A traumatic or unusually stressful situation can trigger anxiety in people who previous had no signs or symptoms of anxiety. To say it is a scary experience is an understatement. The key for anxiety sufferers is to heed that natural response. I want you to know: you have not been given a life –sentence of ongoing anxiety and its related depression. Honor the feelings however, by taking care of yourself. Giving yourself permission to do less, to let go of responsibilities and to seek a live, qualified person to talk to.
The accompanying depression is normal! It is not an indicator that you have developed full blown depression. After experiencing any situation that severely rocks your world and upsets the normal course of your life, your body reacts by starting up a number of self-protective measures. Depression is one of them. Depression literally “depresses” your system, your energy, your thought processes and your mood in an effort to slow you down. Your body is telling you to tread carefully, to proceed with caution, to look out for further dangers. I remember feeling like I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. That is exactly what your instincts are telling you.
Just knowing that this is a God-given, useful response meant to protect you and not a life sentence of permanent depression can go a long way toward easing your concerns and speeding up recovery. Listen to your system. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t push to get back to normal. Normal may not be possible or even desirable. If God has allowed you to go through a traumatic life altering event, it is something He will use for His good will and purposes. Fighting it only means you hold up changes that God wants to make in your life. Acceptance of reality, of what happened, why it happened, and what it means for your future is necessary and it is also an important part of the healing process.
No, you won’t feel better or normal in 6 weeks. Expect that it will take time but by knowing this, you are less apt to stress out over ongoing symptoms. You can rest assured others have walked the same path, they have experienced the same dread, despair and hopelessness and they have come out the other side. It is a predictable process that WILL end.
Going through something difficult can result in grief just as real as grieving the loss of a loved one. Healing from it, going through the anxiety, depression and fear, are a normal, predictable part of a grieving process. I wish someone had recognized the symptoms in me so they could have reassured me I was right on track for a full recovery. I went through all of the recognized stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You don’t recognize which stage you are in at the time, it only comes afterward, or with the help of a trusted counselor. You don’t go through the stages in a linear fashion either. You may feel both denial and anger. You may get depressed, angry and attempt to bargain with God all at the same time. It is very different for everyone.
Most people do not experience constant, daily, ongoing, overwhelming anxiety like I did. However, if you don’t want to deal with this for the rest of your life, even on an occasional basis, you need to deal with the underlying issues that cause the anxiety. According to the British Journal of Psychiatry if you were emotionally or physically neglected, suffered the loss of a loved one, or were abused as a child, you are more likely to develop anxiety attacks. This means to anxiety is not the real problem. It is a symptom of a deeper issue. Read this letter I wrote to a fellow anxiety sufferer and you’ll find a link to a book that can turn your life around and set you free from anxiety forever.
It’s great to be able to take a pill and reduce the feelings down to a nagging discomfort, but you are just burying the toxins until the next time and one day it will no longer submit to being buried. There is healing and power in knowing the anxiety is just a temporary episode, a process you must walk through in order to get to some deeper healing in your life. It only become a permanent resident if you choose to look at it as an incurable mental deficiency that you just have to learn to live with. It is not. If you are willing to bring it all before the Lord, to seek Him faithfully and to allow Him full access to your life, He will reveal whatever it is He wants to heal in you and He will do the work to restore you.
As you participate in His work, the anxiety will lessen and eventually leave your life forever.
Are you dealing with anxiety? What have you done to overcome it? Share your comments below.