It’s ‘just’ anxiety

On the Sunday before last I had a wonderful opportunity to preach at my church. Usually I only get this chance once a year but this last year I have now had the chance to do it twice. I’ve been working on my sermon for a few weeks and was really excited to deliver the finished piece. It all started normally enough but right in the middle of speaking on the sinlessness of Jesus, that’s when it hit me.

A horrible anxiety attack

Panic

My chest was tight, I had tingling in my hands, I was getting dizzy, I was breathing heavy, I could not drink enough water my mouth was so dry I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out, die or run but I knew I had to do something.

Just a week before that I was in the ER at the hospital just down the road, again, for similar symptoms. The ER thought I was well enough to send home.

See I get these panic attacks from time to time, I can go months, even years sometimes without having one and then I can have 2 or 3 in one day.

You’d think I’d have gotten used to them and I guess in a way I have but when you totally feel like death warmed over it is hard to convince yourself that what  you are fighting is all in your head.

Or as the Doctors like to say “Oh, it’s just anxiety”.

I was diagnosed as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder back in 2008, when I was 30 years old. You have to have chronic anxiety symptoms for over 6 months to be diagnosed I went an entire year.

I spent a couple years on medication and never really liked it. Since coming off drugs 4 years ago I’ve gone back and forth with the anxiety. SOme days, weeks, months are good and some not so much.

Lately my life has been in the not so much catagory.

I’ve had some major stress in my life, my dad got a diagnosis of kidney cancer and he had to have a kidney removed and well that sent me on the latest spiral.

Since my fears always center around my heart health(because I’m fat) I recently went to a cardiologist and was reassured that, once again, it was JUST anxiety.

You hear that a lot when you have anxiety as a mental disorder.

Oh you’re fine you’re just anxious

It’s just anxiety

It’s just your nerves it won’t kill you.

Yes they’re right to a point, panic attacks and generalized anxiety have yet to kill anyone but it’s still very flippant to dismiss the disorder as simply being just anxiety

It was just anxiety that led me to leaving my band a year ago. There were other reasons but the panic attacks and feelings of dread I was having due to the confrontations and stress that I was having in that band were making it difficult to function much les stay in the band.

It was just anxiety that has stopped me from working out as much and as hard as I once was, and let me tell you what I miss it I really do but when a mile walk gets you feeling dizzy it’s really hard to enjoy yourself.

It’s just anxiety that has stopped me from going out and doing things I used to love doing like seeing shows and doing karaoke.

It’s just anxiety that is making someone who has always ad a fairly active social life become much more of a homebody than I ever thought I’d be.

Anxiety disorders may not kill you but they will rob you of your joy. They’ll stop you from doing things you love to do, they will keep you at home, they will make you scared to death to take risks and chances. They hurt your mind, body and soul. I feel chronic pain of one kind or another every single day, the types of pain that a guy my age should not be feeling and I’ve been dealing witch that for the last 6, almost 7 years.

At least a couple times a week I get to feeling so dizzy and foggy headed I wonder if I am going to fall over. My life is changing and a lotm of it is because of the anxiety I deal with.

I keep waiting to get better, keep waiting for the day that will come that I’ll be able to do things I used to do and enjoy them without fear again but those days seem very far away. If I take medication I’m weak and I have to deal with ridiculous side effects but if I don’t than I have days when I feel pretty miserable and I spent a lot of my time wondering just what the hell is wrong with me.

My church, my wonderful church was so amazing and encouraging after I melted down in front of them last week. They have even told m that the sermon was good, but trust me it wasn’t. It was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had, I’d be surprised if they asked me to do it again.

My hope and prayer is that anxiety will just be something that I can grow out of. My fear is I never will and someday, sooner rather than later, it will make me be a shell of who God really wanted me to be.

Somewhere between what I hope and what I fear is the reality that life is going really fast and I feel like I’m being run over by it. That’s a but the best way to describe it.

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The Autism problem

I find that I am not really proud of my autism nor am I ashamed of it. It is what it is I can no more be proud of ashamed of it as I can be proud or ashamed that my eyes are blue or that I am as tall as I am. To put too much stock in these things seems silly. Having said that though there are days I wsh I wasn’t autistic.

I’ve had a problem for most of my life, the problem is I don’t really feel like I am really living and by that what I mean is I don’t really feel like I am getting the most I can out of this life. I feel this way because of the way that anxiety has deeply affected how I approach life. I feel that if I didn’t have autism than I would not be as anxious as I am now. I could be wrong I suppose, I could have a brain that functions in typical ways and still have deeply rooted anxiety but sometimes I wonder if my brain would handle the anxiety differently.

I fixate on everything. Music, food, sex, God, status, money, death, everything. I can’t just causally think about something and then let it go I fixate on it to the point that it can drive me insane, but more than all the others the thing I fixate on the most is death. I fixate so much on death that most of the others things I do in life are done to try to fight the anxiety I feel about my own demise.

Last night I wrote a status on FB talking about my frustrations with my lack of weight loss lately. I admitted that when it came right down to it what I was really fighting was the fear that I was going to die from a heart attack, specifically it comes down to dying young from a heart attack. I feel as if I have family history nipping at my heels, my moms dad, my grandfather whom I never met, died when he was only 45 years old, by that time he had already had 3 heart attacks.

I just turned 36, every year on my birthday I say the same thing. I am one step closer to my goal of being an old fart. It’s tongue in cheek but it also comes from a place of fear, I really get scared sometimes that I will die before ‘my time’ whenever that might actually be. I want to live to be old but then again being old has it’s own list of issues. What I really want is immortality, to never have to go through the process of dying.

As I sit here typing this my back and chest feel tight, this is not a new sensation, it’s nothing that I haven’t felt dozens upon dozens of times before. It is something that has caused me to call EMTs and travel to emergency rooms before but because I have an understanding of what it is I sit here and just deal with it. I am not having a heart attack, yet the fear remains

I cannot remember a single day when the thought of whether or not I would die didn’t enter my mind. Seriously, as far back as I can remember, way back inm childhood at least once per day(but usuaully much much more) I have wondered if I was going to die that day. Sometimes I’ve actually felt as if I really was dying that very moment.

This is your brain

This is autism

This is your brain on autism

Any questions?

Yes, yes I have a question.

Could I have just one single day when I don’t feel as if my stupid autistic brain isn’t trying to beat me into submission? Can I have one day when I don’t worry as to whether or not I am going to die? Could I experience what life would be like if I didn’t have anxiety? If I just lived in the trust that my God has it all under his control no matter what I feel or experience? Just one stupid day where I don’t dance the dance of whether or not my symptoms are bad enough that I should go see a Dr or go to a hospital? It’s much easier to trust God when you aren’t scared for your very life? Could I have this without medicating myself? I am not even asking for my aches and pain to go away I’ll take them but can aches and pains please just be aches and pains and not send me into a proverbial tailspin?

So yeah I’m not proud of being an autistic person. I’m just a misfit who’s trying his best to get through life. SO far I’ve done ok but someday I’ll fail, I just hope it’s not today.

Tomorrow I’ll hope the exact same thing.

 

Grief

Grief is one of those many faceted things that is kind of hard to define because it’s a process that has a starting point, a middle and no end.

I used to think that grief was an intense period of sadness that one experienced during a loss. I did in fact experience that aspect of grief to be sure, 12 years ago today when cops showed up at our door with a grief councilor to inform us that my brother was killed in a car accident. That aspect of grief is very real but the fatal flaw in my thinking was believing that I would experience that part of grief for a time and that grief would then end.

Most of what we experience is long, dull, mind numbingly constant and the very opposite of dramatic. It’s lack of drama is so pronounced and yet I cannot think of a word to best describe it. It involves going through the day to day of life while at the same time trying to reconstruct a puzzle with more than a few of the pieces gone.

It never quite looks right does it?

Yet we have to get on with the business of living. Which we do though never quite in the same way.

I have believed wrongly in the past that I don’t grieve well but at my therapist appointment today I was assured that I was actually really good at grieving. In fact the things that I sometimes secretly and sometimes not so secretly wish for, to be able to move through life unaffected by the sadness and the gravity of the loss I’ve experienced, would indicate that I wouldn’t be grieving well. To go through life without the sting of the emotion would be no life at all but sometimes the emotions are entirely too intense and I don’t feel that I express them with any kind of proper social filter.

I guess that makes me a bonafide expert on grief but there are no medals or Nobel prizes
to be awarded for this. There is only the mind numbing constant day to day getting on with life without some of the people that I most loved.

Even now, 12 years later it aches like an infected tooth that you cannot help but touch with your tongue. I’d ask for Novocain but that would just make me fiddle with it more. What I realy want, what I long for is the one thing that cannot be provided. It is that longing that pushes me toward the cross. Jesus longed for this world to be fixed without his having to die an excruciating death, he longed for the curse to never have happened, he longed for a people who would love him freely and without hesitation but that was the one thing that this world would not, could not provide.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it killed you? God did.

Because he died in the place I should have occupied I hope, and believe, and trust that someday I’ll see my brother again. I hope, and believe, and trust that this life isn’t all there is, that the things that get so violently cut short by the brokenness of this earth can begin again, and this time sin will have no hold on the outcome.

I miss my brother.

 

Why did I delete my blog?

Delete key on PC keyboard

Delete key on PC keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It came on me like a tidal wave, like a tsunami crashing over my broken body and pulling me beneath  the undertow. The worst emotional crash in years. I felt out of control, out of my mind.

The night before my band was playing a live set on a local radio station. It was magic, it was so much fun. Me and my friends sharing the songs we had spent so much time constructing. There was something in the air, I wanted to cage it and hold it close to me for the rest of my life. I never wanted to feel anything else.

They will see us waving from such great
Heights, ‘come down now,’ they’ll say

The coming down, the waking up from a magnificent dream can be a scary sensation. The realization of being nothing but myself at the end of the day can be a bitter pill. The same me that they called a retard so many years ago on the playground. The same me that can’t overcome the past. The same me that can’t save my wife from the crushing depression that sometimes grips her.

The coming down, the waking up….

The knowing that nothing I do changes our life. The understanding of just how dependent I am, on others. Because I can’t solve my problems. I can’t make the pain go away. I can’t give her children. I can’t take away the pain from my friends. I can’t hear God‘s voice, don’t think I’d recognize it if I could

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Somewhere in that night I realized that being seen by people wasn’t good. It wasn’t good for me it wasn’t good for anyone. I realized that I had spent the last 2 and a half years wrestling with faith and all I had to show for it was a limp. I feared that my depression, my brokenness was hurting those I was trying to help.

I decided in that single moment, that late night moment of absolute sorrow that I needed to erase my words. I needed to delete every trace of my struggle. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years but in that moment I realized that nothing I had ever said had any significance at all.

I am nothing

I am no one

Deleting a blog is not an easy process. There is a built in shame about it as WordPress warns you time and again that the words you delete will never be recovered. You have to check boxes and press buttons. Even then it’s not over, they send you an email making sure you really understand what the hell it is you’re doing. that you are really sure you want to erase the work you’ve been doing for almost 3 years.

I did

and I was

Those moments in life are important. They are painful  but they are important. Those are the moments that God meets you. In the midst of your suffering, in the throes of your pain, that’s when you see God more clearly than you ever could if you were blessed with a good life.

It’s the finding out how weak you are, the understanding how messed up you are that you see grace and feel it. That’s when you see the blessings that you may have neglected before. It’s really hard because I want to be a lion, I want to be strong and smart and capable and compelling….

But I’m not called to be those things. I am called to be an example of love and grace, I am called to show that even someone as messed up as me can be cared for, can be loved by God. I am called to love and care for other hurting people. I am called to share the goodness of God that has been shared with me. I am called to boast in my weakness because it’s when we do that that Christ’s strength is beautifully displayed,

I am nothing

I am no one

But…. I am loved.

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