Many of my close family members and friends struggle with anxiety, depression, or both. I have always considered myself supportive and loving while acknowledging the challenges they faced. I have spent endless hours on the phone, and in person, holding up someone who was in crisis and I felt blessed to be there. Yet, I didn’t really get it.
I’m a trained social worker, so I knew the mechanics and the tools when dealing with these types of issues. I understood the biological blips and brain misfires that were going on. I could see the lies these people’s bodies were telling them, but I didn’t understand. Deep in my heart, I think I believed if they focused and trusted God, they would not suffer so greatly.
I was wrong. Menopause threw my body into a heightened state; I didn’t recognize it at first. A year ago, the hot flashes became worse. Around the same time, I started a new job and so I chalked my unease up to the new job challenges in my life. The flashes became more frequent and intense. Then, as I wrote in my blog last month, my kids got engaged, we bought a new house and so on …
I kept thinking that this impending sense of dread was just all the stress. Until I hit critical mass. The hot flashes started triggering arrythmias, putting my body into an absolute state of panic. In my mind, I could think through the stress, changes and even look at things optimistically (which is my normal nature) but my body refused to catch up! I couldn’t talk myself out of the panic. I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted and felt like my skin was crawling all the time. I have never felt so out-of-control and uncomfortable in my whole life. I reached out to my doctor who explained that this can happen in menopause. She prescribed medication which eventually helped me reclaim my life.
I cannot imagine that my loved ones fight this battle every day! I have come to understand that people who face these challenges are not lacking trust or faith, they are heroes –saints — full of more faith than I can fathom. They continue on as their bodies revolt; they battle onward daily. I did not appreciate the private war they were embroiled in and I am grateful for the glimpse into their reality.
Catholic author Gary Zimak has been instrumental in bringing these issues into public discussion. He states,
We are creating more anxiety because we buy into the false notion that the only way we can experience peace in life is to be problem-free. Jesus never said that … I put people in touch with the Lord and say, ‘Don’t try to stop worrying on your own. Instead, spend time with Jesus every day.
Changing our focus from thinking about our own anxiety to thinking about Jesus can also help us to find balance.
To everyone that suffers — for not fully understanding, I apologize; in understanding now, I am amazed at your strength and courage! Be assured of my more fervent prayers.
Copyright 2019 Mary Lou Rosien