Right Side Up

This is a shout out to all of you that live with anxiety. Anxiety isn't my usual state of being, so when I do experience it, it can rock my world. I was a ball of anxiety Saturday and Sunday and it turned me inside out, upside down, sideways - you name it, I felt every which way except right side up. I felt that gut-wrenching impending doom, like I will never amount to anything, I will fail at everything I'm trying to do, and questioning if I'm making the right choice quitting my job to follow my dreams. It made me withdraw from those around me, retreat into my self imposed prison of isolation which allowed the bad feelings to feel even worse, recognizing that and not being able to do anything about it. Knowing I should probably reach out to someone and tell them how I feel, knowing that if nothing else, pain shared is pain lessened. And still, I was paralyzed. Three different people close to me noticed and reached out to me, asking if I was okay. And still, I was paralyzed. I couldn't form the words to say, "I need help." Instead I sat in it. And sitting in it creates a breeding ground for even more negative feelings. Newton's First Law is that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. That one negative thought gets the ball rolling and the rest is just physics. I think that's what's so scary about anxiety - it forces you to suffer in silence. At least for me. 

 

I tossed and turned all night. Imagining every single scenario that could potentially play out for my future. And as each different possibility flashed before my eyes, the knot in my stomach got tighter and tighter. It twisted in ways I could only imagine, as if to slowly close off access to my lungs while simultaneously drowning me in the self pity of "what if." As if when I got to a particular vision, the tape would stop rolling and the narrator of my life would grandly announce that we had arrived at the actual scene that would play out. And only then I would feel as if I could properly prepare.

 

As I'm sitting in the bathtub Monday morning, the fog cleared just enough to have a moment of clarity. I remembered that the previous night Jeffrey asked me if I had prayed about it. I hadn't. If there's any way to be more vulnerable than bowing before God, quite literally stark naked, I'm not sure what it is. But I was desperate. I couldn't stand the way I was feeling and I was willing to do whatever it took to get rid of it. I prayed for faith and humility and peace of heart to rest easy knowing that no matter what God has my back. And yet, I didn't feel any better.

 

I worked up the courage to explain to Jeffrey my fears without actually getting into all the extra nonsense that anxiety brings along because that's what it's sole purpose is. Anxiety is a way to disguise the exact nature of the problem because as long as the exact nature is disguised, I can't get to the root. And if I can't get to the root, then I can't do anything about it. And as long as I can't do anything about it, I continue to live in anxiety. And as long as I continue to live in anxiety, I'm fighting a losing battle.

 

So, still sitting in the tub, still stark naked and still vulnerable, I say, "I think we need to decide what our priority is right now. Is it having kids or is it quitting my job so I can work on growing our page? Because WHAT IF I do get pregnant and then we find the page isn't making the money we need, I won't be able to get a job at 6 months pregnant. Literally no one is going to hire me. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't be so worried about it. So maybe we put off trying for a little while, or we don't, but I keep my job."

 

And without hesitation, Jeffrey said, "Or you just quit your job to do what you love, and we leave the rest up to God."

 

It wasn't until that moment that my anxiety started to dissipate. Not completely and not quickly, but enough to allow one grain of hope to slip through. Enough to know that everything is already okay. Enough to come to terms, once again, with the fact that I'm not in control. Enough to recognize that God answered my prayers through my husband. And with that one grain of hope - an object in motion tends to stay in motion - I allowed it to grow.

 

Now, I know this isn't the end all, be all of anxiety. I know that I will once again be faced with this same exact dilemma, this same exact feeling of trying to claw my way out of a dark pit. But its all because I try to take back the reigns and get the bright idea that I can somehow control it again. I say I have faith, but am I acting on that faith?

 

And I also know that what helps me is simply that - it's what helps me. I share with you because maybe, just maybe, it will help provide relief for someone else. And if not, that's okay too. But for those of you that live with this feeling day in and day out, my heart breaks for you. And my heart breaks for you because after just two days of it, I was ready to give up. I can't imagine the complete and utter exhaustion I would feel trying to just keep my head above water on any given day, much less trying to achieve an okay day.

 

My Unsolicited Advice is about the seeming "magic" of prayer. So often we think, "Well, that won't work for me." But maybe it's because we're focused on the wrong part. While it most definitely starts with talking to God, that's not where you find it. It isn't in the talking to God, it's in the listening to God.

Start small. If it feels weird and awkward and cumbersome, well then you're doing it right. Then be still. Be still and listen.

 

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

 


11 comments

  • Hey Katelyn, I came across this soulful confession of yours today while checking out the bows for sale. I have to commend you on your strength. I have lived, some days not very well, with bipolar disorder for almost 30 years. Anxiety is a major part of living with this mental illness. Anxiety has left me unable to move after causing a panic attack in a Wal-Mart parking lot after shopping for groceries & Christmas gifts. I could not move nor speak, I froze!! All I could think was, “God, help me please”. A lady appeared at my shoulder. She was a nurse, worked on a psych unit, and immediately knew what was happening. She guided me out of danger to my car, explained what was happening to me, helped me with my purchases, and stayed with me for almost 2 hours…in my car. This was my first experience with anxiety. The first thing I said when I could speak was this, “Thanks God. I greatly appreciate your quick help”. The nurse said “Amen. Glad you thanked God first. You will be fine”. She had forgotten her cell in her truck and came out to get it. God answers prayers in his way, not ours. I have had many anxiety issues and panic attacks over the years, but I received some heavenly help from an unlikely place that day, and was given advice that has been with me ever since…..
    God will never give me any problems he will not help me through.
    And a Bible verse….
    For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
    2 Timothy 1:7

    Enjoy all the videos. Yahtzee is precious. Congrats on 6 years sober👍. And last but not least, I hope & pray that when I get my Emotional Support Dog he/she is as wonderful as your 6 fur-babies 🐶💜

    Nancy Adams
  • Be still and know that I am God. He knows you and will not forsake you. Amen. Have courage

    Marsha Price
  • I happened to come across this today- which was one of those anxiety days you described. Thank you so much for writing this. I love the line “pain shared is pain lessened.” Your sharing lessened mine. I’m sure I was led to this to read today. As always He is there to lovely us up in our darkest moments if we allow it. Thanks so much.

    Paula
  • I just want to say thank you so much for opening the conversation. I lived with anxiety, among other disorders, for most of my life. I turned to pain killers to ease the emotional pain, which, after about 15 years, turned into a full blown heroine addiction, full of guilt, self hatred and shame. After 3 years of that, I began to see that God must want something better from me because I never got arrested, even though I should have, I never od’ed, and I should have, and I held onto my child, when I probably shouldn’t have. I wanted whatever He wanted for me. I was afraid that I would die before I figured it out, before I ever knew what it was like to be truly happy. I had never been happy, that could remember. So I went to rehab, that was 5 years ago. But I still had anxiety.
    When I had been clean about 6 months, I came across 1 Peter 5:7, which says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” After that I could sleep without the TV on, I could sit quietly with just my thoughts, I could even go into grocery stores alone without fear. It didn’t magically just vanish, but now I can pray my way out of it. There have been times when I’ve had to use that scripture as a mantra to get away from the fear, but He is faithful, He’s always there, ready to take my burdens when I’m ready to let them go. And now I know what Jesus meant when He said “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” in John 14:27. I am truly at peace. I’m not happy about my circumstances all the time, but my true happiness and peace comes from Him despite my circumstances.

    I went way further with that than I intended, but it felt right to share it all.
    Thank you, Katelyn

    Alison
  • I stumbled across your fb page a few months ago because of my obsession with pups and animals. I read your story, watched your videos and was inspired. I too suffer from anxiety. I find it hard reaching out for help from other especially those closest to me. It normally take a day or two to pass, regroup and get back to myself. It’s encouraging hearing others success stories and gather strength from them. Thanks for sharing your experience. With your strength you will succeed!

    Emily

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