It's something a lot of people struggle with, but feel too ashamed to talk about. People who struggle with anxiety tend to get anxious just thinking about how they have anxiety.
Anxiety is something I have struggled with my whole life, but didn't become truly evident to me until about 4 years ago when I started having panic attacks. It was October of 2013. I knew the extreme anxiety I was experiencing was not normal, so I did two things (apprehensively): I made an appointment with my family doctor. And then scheduled an appointment with a therapist. I got to the point where I realized if my doctor had to write me a prescription for Xanax then I probably needed a little more help that I wanted to fully admit.
At this point in my life, therapy was not a new thing for me. I saw a therapist for about 6 months in 2004 (I was only in 9th grade), and then for about 2 years from 2009-2011. But to need to see a therapist again? I honestly dreaded it. And I hated feeling like something was "wrong" with me.
But this therapist came highly recommended from my mentor. They were in a biweekly women's Bible study together. In fact, their Bible study met in a room at the clinic in Lake Orion. Her name, my soon to be therapist, was Renee. And the clinic was called Treeside.
Treeside is a beautiful historic home located on a corner in downtown Lake Orion. As I've said before, I had spent years in therapy prior to this point in my life. But I guess I didn't realize how crucial this very step was for me.
Renee's office was very homey with a comfy armchair and elegant decor in shades of gold and plum. My favorite part about her office though was a beautiful bay window to my left that overlooked downtown Lake Orion. And in this very office I ended up spending one hour a week for two years. Watching the seasons change out that bay window. Through falls, winters, springs and summers. I later would grow to especially love the way the snow sat on the branches on the tree just outside that window.
Renee asked me lot of questions about my childhood. I explained the back and forth that took place as a little girl, starting at the age of 2, from my mom's house to my dad's and vice versa. My earliest childhood memories.
As time went on we began to focus more and more time on my relationship with my dad. At the time, I didn't really see this as relevant since it wasn't a present concern. My main concern was my anxiety attacks. But I knew Renee's prompting served an important purpose. I trusted that even when I couldn't exactly see how.
I took Renee's lead and opened up to her more about this area of my life. My dad. An area that I specifically wanted to keep closed in a box on the top shelf of a closet. I knew there were issues. But it just made more sense to not open up a can of worms and keep things as status quo. I eventually opened up about his drinking. Memories that stuck with me from the time I started to form them.
*I plan to do another post going more in depth about my therapy with Renee at a later date.* But what I want to stress in this post is that our anxiety stems from SOMEWHERE. If we are feeling anxious or experience panic attacks, chances are it is being triggered from a deeply rooted traumatic experience. Some we may remember. Some we may not have any recollection of. Some anxiety may even stem from the anxiety or stress of our primary caregivers during some of our early, formative years.
I don't believe we are born as anxious people. But we are born into a fallen world, surrounded by broken people. The brokenness in humanity is what leads to pain, which leads to anxiety. But it is NOTHING to be ashamed of. And you should never feel ashamed about asking or reaching out for help from a professional.
Even if the therapy proves to be difficult at first, and even if some topics don't make sense initially, I urge you to KEEP GOING. There is a reason to dive deeper into every facet of our lives in order to understand and heal from the very onset of our pain.
Eventually, I learned to have more control over my thoughts just by being aware of what my triggers were. Once I became more in control of my thoughts and how to identify triggers, the triggers seemed to lessen. Through God's grace and the wisdom of Renee, I experienced more healing than I thought was possible.
I allowed God to lead me down an unknown and what seemed like a scary path. But God held my hand through it all, knowing the significance that this therapy would have on my life in my current and future relationships.
You may struggle with anxiety, but it doesn't own you and doesn't make up the very essence of who you are. You are uniquely, wonderfully and fearfully made by a loving God who wants you to heal from your hurts.
I will continue with a few more parts - learning the triggers, medication, and moving forward.