2011. I had just gotten married and instead of newlywed bliss, I was more anxious than I had ever been in my life. I told myself it was just the transition that was causing these anxious feelings, these bizarre symptoms, these thoughts of hopelessness. I kept thinking that one day I would wake up and feel like my old self, that these awful feelings would just disappear and I could forget about them and move on. But, the days ticked on and pretty soon 6 months had gone by and I remember my Doctor telling me he didn’t think it was just “transitional anxiety” as I had told him it was in the beginning. He wanted me to try an SSRI, but I declined. I left the Doctor’s office feeling more hopeless. What was wrong with me? Why was this heaviness not lifting?
I was in therapy and it was helping but I was getting impatient. I just wanted to feel normal again. My therapist told me over and over to be patient as we worked through old thought patterns that needed to be challenged, and I tried my hardest to “accept” the uncomfortable sensations and symptoms of overstimulation. She explained that it had taken years of stress hormones building up in my system to get me to this point, and it would take a long time to get my body to calm down, and probably an even longer time to address unhealthy thoughts and behaviors I had developed without even realizing they were contributing to this struggle.
The days continued to tick by and my hopelessness grew. Would I always feel like this?
I pleaded with God to just take it from me, this mental/emotional torture that I couldn’t seem to break free from. The panic attacks and intrusive thoughts and the nausea – please God, take it from me. I cannot bear this burden anymore.
I won’t say God was silent because He wasn’t. I learned from Him, I felt Him near to me…But, He didn’t take the anxiety away. He didn’t answer my prayer.
Two years went by and although there was some improvement, I still struggled intensely.
Hopelessness. It is so dangerous, yet so easy to fall into when you are praying for a miracle that doesn’t come.
More days went by, and I got a little better and then a little better and a little better. I was healing, but it was a slow process and that anxiety, 8 years later, was still “kind of” there, not to the same degree, not as intense, but it would still flare up from time to time, reminding me that it wasn’t gone. I still had my fears and I still felt panicky from time to time and there were still certain situations I couldn’t get through without popping an Ativan, and that’s the truth.
I began to believe this was as good as it gets. It was ok. I was managing it. I wasn’t necessarily hopeless anymore. I could live like this. It wasn’t constant anymore. I was grateful for that, but deep down I still wanted more. I still prayed everyday that God would continue to help me heal, fully and completely. I wanted it, but 8 years is a long time to pray for something. Maybe you’ve been praying for a miracle for even longer.
Well, I’m now almost 10 years in from when my anxiety flared up around my wedding. I won’t say it’s totally gone, but it’s the best I’ve felt in a long time. In the last few months, I’ve been able to face things I haven’t been able to face in years. I feel better than I have felt in a long time. More like myself. Days go by and I don’t really think about my anxiety. And, when it does flare up it’s not as intense as it once was.
I’m facing a major transition and instead of angst and worry, I feel calm and at peace. Sometimes I worry that that won’t last, but when that worry comes up I remind myself to enjoy the moment and just take things one day at a time.
When I look back over the last 10 years, my eyes well up with tears, because what a journey it has been. My anxiety didn’t heal overnight, not by any means. But it did heal, it is healing. I know people always say, “healing is a journey”, but it’s the truth. And everyone’s journey looks different.
For me, at this transitional time in my life, the peace I’m feeling is a miracle. I didn’t believe I could be at this place in my life and feel the way I feel. I thought I’d be an anxious, miserable, despairing mess but I’m not. I feel better than I have in years.
This Sunday, at church, a woman shared a powerful story of healing. For 4.5 years she lived with a debilitating disease, some form of stomach paralysis. She had been on a liquid diet for 4.5 years, unable to digest solid food. Doctors and prayers and pleading and hoping for 4.5 years. Nothing changed. God didn’t heal her. The Doctors couldn’t help her. Hopelessness. Would the miracle ever come?
She shared that last week it finally came. People prayed over her, not for the first time, but this time, God answered the prayer. I don’t know why He didn’t answer it in the beginning. She doesn’t know why He didn’t answer it in the beginning. But, He answered it last week. She’s been eating solid food for the first time in 4.5 years.
We prayed for my brother for years. I don’t even know how many. He struggled with addiction. It almost broke my family but we kept the faith. We kept praying, holding onto that flicker of hope. For. Years.
It’s easy to lose your hope when the situation doesn’t change.
My brother is sober now. Married to a wonderful woman. Hardworking and successful and healthy and kind. If you just met him, you would never know the darkness that was his past. His life has been completely transformed.
But for years we prayed and there was no answer, there was no sign of hope. Until, one day there was.
A few years ago my father in law was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. The prognosis and statistics were grim. He underwent chemo and radiation and I watched as it took its toll on his body. I watched as he met with doctor after doctor, and underwent treatment and treatment. We prayed for a miracle.
He’s cancer free for the third year in a row.
How long have you been praying for a miracle?
However long it’s been, don’t lose hope. It may just look like a flicker in the darkness at this point, but keep your eyes fixed on it. The flame might be weak, but don’t blow it out. Don’t close your eyes. Believe, even if it’s been years.
As the woman shared her story of healing and hope in church yesterday, tears streamed down my face. Miracles. Sometimes they happen overnight, and sometimes they take years, but miracles do happen. Prayers are answered. People are healed. Addictions are overcome. Freedom from anxiety is possible.
Our job is to hold onto hope while we wait.