Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My struggle is real.

I think someday someone out there needs read this and realize they are not alone in this world.
And that is why I want to write this. Not for anyone to feel sorry for me or worse, to judge me.
I also just really need to get this off my chest.

What am I talking about?
I struggle periodically with anxiety/panic attacks.
I know, I'm a Christian why can't I just trust in the Lord with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. I wish it were that easy.
First, I would like to answer that by saying this: please don't judge me here. It is equally hard to admit this as it is to struggle with anxiety, But I feel compelled to share my story. We are all in process and this is mine. This is my vulnerability I am speaking about, if it's not yours, you should feel blessed! If you plan to use this against me to tease or taunt me with my own fear, please stop reading this now. But please continue if you would be willing instead to pray.  We all have things we fear and this is my very real struggle.

This is my most recent attack.

Every year my husband and I take off for a warm destination to break up our long winters. This year we decided that taking a cruise would take us to two of the destinations that have been on our list. Aruba, which we have been to before and LOVE, and to Grand Turk, which I have wanted to see since my early motherhood days when I would workout at home with Denise Austin's, destination workouts on tv!
Our cruise would consist of 4 stops total the 2 other stops, being the Dominican Republic and the other being CuraƧao.
This 8 day cruise would be a blast as we also had good friends aboard the same cruise.
But, I have to get though the flight to Florida first, and so begins my struggle.

I have flown my whole life as I was raised as an airline brat since my dad worked for the airline his entire life. I have flown my entire life both as a child as well as an adult.
I have also been on two other cruises, shorter, but nevertheless I was not a rookie. So this really shouldn't have been a problem.

Having said that, every time I step on a plane I basically pray for no problems and no turbulence the entire flight. (I know it's ridiculous but it's my fear and it's real)
Our flights were both flawless and we landed safely in Miami. So excited to see the big ship in port.
I am a little out of the norm (not surprising) in that I am a weather geek. I like to check the weather for the destinations. I noticed right away that the week was going to be a windy one. Like 25-30mph wind. Which translates to waves when you are in the ocean.
I set the thought aside as I just wanted to enjoy my trip. It was sunny and warm and we were with friends.
We set sail and all was well. We had some wavey days due to wind. One day was so bad that we were not able to dock in Grand Turk. I was hugely disappointed. This meant another full day at sea. (I think this was the trigger that started the anxiety) meaning 4 of 8 days were sea days. Not all bad since it was sunny and 82 every day. But rather disappointing to not be able to get off the ship for a while and see a new place.
Our next stop was the Dominican Republic then Curacao then Aruba.

We had a few wavey days again and one that landed me in bed most of the day with vertigo. But after that I was fine. A little on the restless side being trapped on a ship and unable to get off but enjoyed the ride in the sunshine as well as the 3 stops, VERY MUCH!
I think I must have had a little more anxiety on the ship than I was willing to admit. Because once we reached port in Miami I was ready to get off.
But already thinking ahead to my flight home the following day and how much I didn't want to get on that plane.

We spent the day with family that lives in Miami and had a great day.
That night it was beginning to set in, fear turning me into the ice queen and I fell silent! (If you know me this is rare) Warning sign number 1.
Warning sign number 2 - I didn't want to eat dinner.
Silent the whole night. We fell asleep and I tossed and turned all night thinking of ways to tell my husband I just couldn't fly home. What was I going to do, walk? Take the bus? Rent a car and drive? I couldn't do it. I couldn't tell him how scared I was. How much anxiety was building.

So here I am the morning we are supposed to fly home and I am literally paralyzed with fear. My precious husband came to the side of the bed and gently said, "Jen its time to get up and get ready to go home"
This is where I lost it. I completely fell apart. I started crying hysterically and almost passed out twice. I could hear my husband saying he was going to call 911 so I came to again and was still crying hysterically.
I could not get a hold of myself long enough to get my sentences out. All I could do was say, "I am so scared, I don't know whats wrong with me. I can't do this. My Chest hurts. "
Over and over again saying these lines and hyperventilating. I felt like I was having a heart attack.

Then I heard my husband say, " we don't have to fly home. We can drive, I will rent a car and we will drive home Jen."
He literally could do nothing to calm me down. I think I freaked him out pretty good too.
But as soon as he said that I took a breath for the first time.
He held me close and said, "I have already called Enterprise they will be here in an hour and a half. Get dressed, we will go get our coffee at Starbucks and  we will drive it will be fun, an adventure"

I took a deep breath and exhaled slow.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Is he serious or is he just kidding me to get me up and going"

He was serious. He rented a car.
I cried all through my shower and getting dressed. I felt like an idiot for having such an attack, but it seemed literally out of my control. I could do nothing on my own to stop myself from the hysterics.
But as soon as he said those words, we will just drive. It was like the hot knife that was stabbing me in my chest was gone.

We went down to the lobby and there was a Starbucks. I got my iced coffee and we walked outside. Soon a driver was there to pick us up and bring us around the corner to the car rental place.

He really did rent a car and we really did drive from Miami to Minneapolis.

I felt so much guilt, shame and fear of what people would think of me. Fear of what if this happens again.
I apologized profusely to my poor husband. But all he would say was, "stop apologizing, it will be a fun drive. We are just extending our vacation a little bit"
I watched the weather radar explode with storms in the south. We were literally heading right into it. Then I watched it as it literally split all around us. We were either in front of it or just behind it, either way we missed it all. God's hand of protection was certainly on us as we drove.
I felt peace that even in the midst of my storm God was there. Literally clearing my way.

I pray this never happens to you but if it does I hope you are married to someone that will drive you 2,000 miles because they love you that much! My husband is truly amazing.

I know I will live with the guilt of that moment forever. I know that I will fly again. I know that God has my back no matter what.
But I also know anxiety is real. It is unpredictable and it is unbelieveably embarrasing and uncontrollable.
Again, I write this to be perfectly honest with who I am. Flaws and all.
I will fly again. I hate it but I will do it.
But the real reason I wrote this is because I know I am not the only person that this has ever happened to. In many other situations, not just flying.
I want to know I am not alone. I want you to know, you are not alone if you struggle with this also.
Anxiety/Panic attacks are most often tied to fear. They are very real, and very difficult for the person who suffers with this problem. (and those who have to drive them 2,000 miles) :)

I believe with all my heart that God will heal me. I know He will.
My precious daughter Kelsey sent me a scripture the day this happened, and it was: 1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourself therefore under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!

I am clinging to every word of this verse. That He will lift me up in due time.
Being a christian doesn't mean you won't struggle. It just means you have someone to help you through those struggles. Someone to lean on when you are weak.

I hope in some way for someone out there in the blogosphere, that this helps you not only realize you are not alone in having these struggles but you are not alone period! God can and will heal you from these panic attacks.
I am praying for you as I work through this struggle in my own life. I believe God will heal me and I know he can do the same for you.
If this is not your struggle please seek to understand or just pray,  rather than judge.

This is my struggle, and it is real.


Unknown said...

Jenni I needed to hear what you wrote for I myself have been dealing with the same issues for many many years and it is so refreshing to know that I am not alone! Thank you sooooo much for being open and honest with your struggle and I pray that God will heal you on His time and will keep you in my prayers and praying God will also minister to my need of healing as well. Thanks again! Love you sweetie! This is a very real problem for many many people!

Unknown said...

Jenni I needed to hear what you wrote for I myself have been dealing with the same issues for many many years and it is so refreshing to know that I am not alone! Thank you sooooo much for being open and honest with your struggle and I pray that God will heal you on His time and will keep you in my prayers and praying God will also minister to my need of healing as well. Thanks again! Love you sweetie! This is a very real problem for many many people!

Denise Hochstedler said...
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