Dealing with Anxiety; Special Needs Parenting, Divorce, and Other Hard Stuff

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Can you feel it? Heart racing. Pounding heavy in my chest. Deep breath in. I’m not getting any air. I begin to sweat. Close my eyes and hang on so I don’t pass out. Deep breath in. Tell myself to just get through. It’ll be over soon. Thoughts flow, uncontrollable. I just want it all to go away.

It might be a meeting about one of my special kids and I just plain old don’t want to deal. I’m not sure I can. It might be knowing I have to face a painful reminder of something that cut deep, and anticipating the wound reopening, bleeding free, feels like too much. Sometimes it’s sitting on big a decision, sitting in the school pick up line, heading to work, through the grocery store. The decision looms. It’s all I can think about as I move through the mundane of my day. I can’t breathe. 

These past years anxiety has become an unwelcome friend to me. I’ve always wrestled with being fearful but add to that a steady dose of trauma and you have a whole new level of anxiety. To say I was a shy kid would be an understatement. I spent my first few years of school in a cloud of tears, doing my best to hide from everyone and everything…behind my mother’s leg, letting my bestie be my voice, and attempting to blend into the background so no one would notice me.  Fear is not something new for me but anxiety has been a painful addition. I’ve had to do a lot of really hard things. Things I would have much rather just hid from. But I don’t fit behind my mothers leg anymore, my bestie lives a thousand miles away and I’ve learned it’s impossible to disappear, especially when you’re a mom to special needs kiddos who need you to be their voice. 

As I’ve wrestled with anxiety I’ve realized that its really an imaginary foe. It’s often worse than the actual outcome of what I’m worrying about. But its so very tangible yet so very hard to get a grip on. Maybe you’ve heard some of the buzz words flying around lately; positive self talk, mindset, mindfulness, taping, the list goes on. There’s a whole host of different methods, but essentially they all say the same thing. What you say to yourself in your mind is what will be (kind of). And if you spend time meditating on what’s true and positive it changes the way you live. I’ve found this to be pretty powerful in my life but my favorite part about the mindset movement is that it’s actually not new. It’s about 2,000 years old (and before). Check out Philippians 4:8, telling us to think about things that are true, lovely, and excellent.

Feelings follow thoughts, so if we can change what we are thinking {about ourselves and our situation} then we can begin to change the way we feel {about ourselves and our situation.} Most of the time the things I’m saying to myself are not true. My thoughts are irrational and they lead to irrational feelings and then I’ve got the snow ball rolling down a hill thing going on and its bad news. The conversation usually looks like this:

“I can’t do this. I will not be ok. I don’t see a way. I’m not cut out for this. Why can’t I get it together? How do other people do this? Why can’t I do what they do? Why would anyone love someone like me? I must be crazy. No one can help me.”

I have to stop that train in its tracks before I let it derail me and one of the methods I’ve learned for throwing on the brakes is to tell myself the truth. I’m so thankful for the people in my life who’ve helped remind me of the truth about myself and my situations but they can’t always be there so I have to put on my big girl pants and tell myself. The truth is:

“I can do this. It will be ok. I am known. I am loved. I am not alone.”

The thing about truth is that its exactly that; TRUE, whether I believe it or not. The truth doesn’t always look the way I want or expect it to. My version of “being ok” isn’t necessarily God’s version of ok. The last years have taught me that I can do much more than I think I can. Love is so much more than what we limit it to and loneliness lies.

I think we’ve all heard the concept that if you tell a lie enough times you begin to believe it and that is true for ourselves and the things we think about ourselves as well. I have to tell myself the truth. The more I tell myself the truth the more quickly I believe it and can pull myself out of that anxiety pit. It takes some practice but I keep getting better at it. I keep pulling myself out faster than the time before. I don’t want to live in that pit anymore and thanks to telling myself the truth I am spending a lot less time there these days. The truth is powerful and telling it to yourself is one powerful tool I’ve learned to use when it comes to dealing with anxiety.

I’ve created a pdf with these truths (along with some Bible verses that back them up). Put in next to your bed so when you wake in the morning and you feel that pit in your gut you can grab it and tell yourself the truth. Keep it in your car or on your fridge and remind yourself what is true throughout the day. Because you will be ok and you can do this. You are known and loved and you are not alone in this.

{To grab the pdf click HERE and it will arrive in your email!}

 

 

 

 

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