Friday, October 12, 2012

The Eubanks: Unplugged: S1:E22

Me, unplugged, again:

I mentioned in a previous post that I have struggled with anger. It started about 4 years ago, and at that time it was mainly during a certain time of the month, only it was MUCH worse than what had previously been normal for me. My doctor prescribed a couple different anti-depressants, but the first one gave me migraines and the second one gave me a rash. So I decided I would have no more of that. I started taking St. John’s Wort, and that helped quite a bit with the anger, but not 100%. 

This past Spring I did my first Beth Moore Bible study. The study was called “Believing God” and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about it at first, because I’m always skeptical about "Christian" products. I can’t even begin to explain how timely it was in my life. About a month into it (March of 2012), I started having all kinds of weird physical symptoms like shortness of breath, light headedness, trouble sleeping, extreme exhaustion, etc. Convinced I had a heart or lung problem, I went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with stress-induced-anxiety. She wanted to put me on an anti-depressant/anxiety medication. I agreed to try it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I did NOT want to take it. Sure, part of it was pride – I didn’t want to be one of “those” people who can’t solve their own problems and need drugs to help them feel better. (Not judging – everyone has to do what they feel is best. Just being honest about my feelings). But it was mostly the simple fact that I prefer the natural over the medical whenever possible. AD’s are known to be difficult to get off of, as well as for dulling ALL of the emotions, not just the negative ones. So my wonderful, supportive husband and I brainstormed some ways to reduce stress in my life. We decided that the kids could pitch in more with daily chores, and got them on a weekly dishes/floors/bathrooms routine. 

It has helped tremendously, but true healing had to happen within my heart and soul as well. The week of my appointment, the topic in Bible study was “I am who God says I am.” I’ve forgotten the details, but the one thing that stands out in my mind is that she said the devil will take our insecurities about ourselves, and make us believe that they are true. My own insecurities stem from the {false} belief that I have to be REALLY GOOD at EVERYTHING that is good to do. I have to be A REALLY GOOD wife, a REALLY GOOD mom (and within those two categories alone there are countless other things to have to be REALLY GOOD at). I have to make nutritious, homemade meals that my kids actually like. I have to keep my body physically fit – for my health, and also for my husband (I don’t want to become unattractive to him). I have to be a REALLY GOOD housekeeper, because it would be horrible if someone came over and saw my messy house. I have to be involved in the community, involved at church, involved at my kids’ school. I have to help my kids with their homework, and with their friends, and make sure they’re really great, amazing kids so nobody thinks I’m a bad parent. The list is endless. And I become insecure about myself when I feel like I’m not measuring up to what I “should” be. When I saw that perspective – that I’m convinced that my insecurities about myself are true – I was able to recognize them for the lies they are. So my house is a mess. So I get grumpy sometimes. I can’t possibly be perfect at EVERYTHING all the time.  I can’t possibly be super involved in EVERYTHING. And I DON’T HAVE TO. I am who GOD says I am, not who the world or society says I should be, or who the devil says I am, or even who I think I am, or who I think I want to be. 

In addition to spiritual healing, I also knew I needed physical healing. I contacted my friend from high school who is a Certified Naturopath (I think of it as kind of like a “healer” of the olden days – I love it!). I asked her for a recommendation for treating anxiety naturally, expecting her to tell me the name of an herbal supplement. She told me that the best thing for most health concerns is a clean diet, meaning fresh food, not factory produced or processed. I started praying for God to open doors for me to feed my family natural, fresh food. Since then I have found a local farmer to buy milk and eggs from, another local farmer from whom I have bought beef and chickens, and I’ve been able to purchase locally processed clean lard from the farmer’s market. I also spent all summer buying about 75% of my produce from local produce stands and/or the farmer’s market. 

Once I realized what my problem was, I was able to see the correlation between stress and anxiety. Whenever I felt that 5 different things were demanding my attention at the exact same time, I would start to panic. If I came home from the grocery store at lunch time, I didn’t know what to do first.  Let the dogs out? Make lunch? Put the groceries away? Take meat out of the freezer for dinner? Everything seemed to scream at me “TAKE CARE OF ME RIGHT NOW!!!!” Sounds crazy, I know. My therapy for those moments was to make tea. At first it was a physical remedy – herbal tea is calming, so if I feel panicked, I should make tea. After a while I realized that the very act of pausing to make tea gave me a few minutes to order my priorities, and by the time the tea was made I was already feeling better. Over time, the panic attacks have become less frequent and less severe.

It has been about 6 months now since that initial appointment with the doctor, and I am starting to have some huge victories. In the past 2 months I have had only the beginning of one panic attack. I quickly stamped it out. Last month I had NO emotional symptoms of PMS whatsoever – I don’t think that has ever happened in my life. For the past several weeks I have been feeling more like the “old me.” The happy, peaceful, roll-with-life’s-punches, laid back girl I used to be. This morning started with a series of events that, several months ago, would have sent me to the kitchen for my dose of “Tension Tamer,” but today none of it even phased me. It helps that my children are now all 3 and older (boy was the infant/toddler stage ROUGH)!  It has taken some time, but I have begun to re-train my brain and my body not to react to those stressful moments in negative ways. And I am being healed in body and in soul. When somebody asks how I’m doing, rather than just nodding my head and giving the ambiguous answer of, “I’m ok,” (which actually means “not great, but I don’t really want to talk about it”), I can honestly answer, “I am doing really well.”

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