“Is it just me? Or is anyone else having trouble breathing? My legs are shaking…my hands trembling…….” I looked to my left. The man beside me was sound asleep. I looked to my right to find a man reading contently. The woman to my far left was eating pretzels and drinking her Coke.
Yep…..I was giving in to the “fear of flying,” a phobia. I immediately paid attention to my thoughts. Yes, we were experiencing turbulence but the plane was not crashing. Philippians 4:8 reminds us of where we should focus our thoughts. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” We are not supposed to focus on the “scary” but that can be hard to do when you are several thousand feet in the air!
While flying recently, I started to experience the “old Sherry!” No, I had not watched news reports of the recent plane crash, but I couldn’t avoid hearing others talk about it. All I knew was that a plane had crashed….don’t even know where. Over six years ago I experienced great victory in diminishing my phobia of airplanes and flying. It was debilitating and real. God miraculously answered my prayer for help by placing a seasoned off-duty pilot beside me on a very turbulent flight. For two hours he worked with me….and really helped me recognize my fear was just unfounded…and over the top.
I will never forget…that he validated what I was feeling and didn’t diminish my “real fear” and “very real feelings,” but he logically, sympathetically, and kindly took me down a path of explanation and self-discovery. It was really amazing……!
I also discovered about six years ago…I was experiencing PTSD…which stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was relieved and thankful…to know I wasn’t going crazy. I had been having PTSD episodes since my early 30’s. For some time I had heard of it but had no idea in the world that it was what I had been experiencing and it had progressively gotten worse.
I thought you had to be a soldier coming home from combat to have PTSD but I realized that was a false assumption on my part. I had listened to someone who didn’t know anymore than I did and taken their word. By the time I was in my mid 40’s, I woke up one day and literally thought I was going crazy. Thankfully…a very trusted friend…listened and suggested I see a professional counselor.
That I did…and wow…a miracle occurred in my life. Not only did I get great help, but I was taught how to deal with, recognize, and get relief and freedom from the agonizing “trap or horror” I found myself in. I am not ever going into detail of the event that initiated the PTSD’s…because I have learned talking about it, reliving it, just makes it worse and takes me backwards.
I learned that I cannot erase the event..but with God’s help…I can go down a different road. It has taken great work, attention, learning and an act of God’s power to gain ground in this area! Many people have tragic events happen in their lives…events they didn’t invite or maybe they made choices that put them in situations that caused great pain. Regardless, they would have never willingly invited the “event” if they had known what the end result would be!
No matter how you end up on that road, I am here to say there is hope and help in Christ and gaining knowledge….I needed both. I got answers and real help. And realized I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
This post is for people…who may realize they have a problem. Or, they may be like me–they don’t know what they don’t know and they are walking around thinking they are going crazy. If this post helps one person…to me…it is worth every stroke of the keyboard!
Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million people in America today. Sadly, I have been one of those people. An anxiety disorder isn’t a temporary concern over a stressful situation like meeting your future in-laws for the first time or making a speech, or an upcoming test. Anxiety disorders show themselves by a couple key of characteristics: they don’t go away, and, left untreated, they get progressively worse.
Just as people are unique, with different characteristics, so are anxiety disorders. There are five:
1. GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
2. panic attacks
4. obsessive compulsive disorder
5.) PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The great news is I am one of those people who has found answers and solutions to work through and receive healing. It has been WORK and has taken a desire from within to live a better, healthier life, free of the “darkness” that lurked for so long.
What I want to convey first and foremost is that there is help. I believe God is the Healer but He has equipped people with knowledge, professionals, to aid and direct anyone to help.
Going to the right professional is key. I feel the right person has to be someone who understands and directs and holds to the belief in God and knows that the real “healing” comes from a Holy God. But just like our son, Thomas, needs insulin to live…and it requires an MD to help him manage his disease…there are equipped professionals…MD’s and PHD’s who have committed their lives to helping people deal with, work through or receive complete healing for things that affect the mind as well, whether it is from an occurrence or a mental illness!
I have NO SHAME in saying an uninvited event….caused my mind…to go to dark places of anxiety. I never wanted to end my life but I know people who do struggle with that thought. Because I was a Christian for a long time before the “event” occurred, I knew to pray and seek God. I knew the truth of Scripture. But, over time that episode and the lingering effects overshadowed my thinking and what I knew to be true. I had an internal struggle but consistently prayed for help…and I got it.
Looking back, too many times I listened to the opinions of others for my help instead of listening to God. This is why I am very adamant that God has to be first in your life. You cannot allow anyone’s voice to be greater in your life than His….otherwise…you may be like me. The ultimate healing is prolonged because you are not ultimately listening to God first and foremost!
Second, there is nothing wrong with going to a professional and unpacking your personal situation to have “insight” into an area where you maybe struggle. I will never ever forget the moment I realized I was not crazy. I cried buckets. I had tried to personally and privately deal with my pain for so long…not realizing the magnitude of what I had experienced.
I had diminished it in my mind and allowed a few people I had attempted to share it with to diminish it as well. Looking back, it so pained them…..they didn’t want to talk about it either. Because it didn’t happen to them….they couldn’t bare to hear. That is why…going to a professional who is trained to hear the ugly…where you can vomit your pain…is a place of refuge and the start of the work in personally dealing with some of life’s tragic events.
Today, I am a thriving and healthy, as far as I know, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend who attempts to the best of my ability to live and carry out God’s call on the Back 9 of life–to seek to encourage people daily to live a life focused on God and their created purpose. I now realize more than ever that we live in a fallen world and we are all affected by our sin and others, either directly or indirectly. But we are all given a soul, a mind and a body…to give God complete control of. We need to follow Him and listen to Him daily. Obeying so that He can direct our paths.
If you feel you are on a path or road and maybe, just maybe…you have taken a wrong turn or been given wrong directions….SEEK A HOLY GOD first. Ask Him to show you…listen carefully to Him. It may require some quiet on your part. Allow the Lord to help you demolish the wrong thinking. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Be honest with the Lord in your prayers just as the psalmist was in Psalm 55:1-3, “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying,…”
Get into the life playbook, The Bible.
Possibly seek the counsel of a Christian Counselor…who is qualified to listen and offer some professional direction and Godly counsel.
I can say this…. living a life to please an audience of One, God, is what we are perfectly designed to do. We were never created to go it alone without divine direction…WE have a choice…Choose Christ.