Fear is a thief that suffocates all joy, all peace. Fear and peace do not, cannot, coexist. Fear is from the father of lies. Peace is from the FATHER of TRUTH.
I had my first panic attack on February 5th, 2009. It's amazing how that date sticks so clearly in my head. I was driving home from a doctor's appointment. I had been suffering from migraines and severe sinus problems for about a year. I had just received this news regarding our little boy, Jin, several days prior. My heart was heavy. And as I drove home from that appointment, my head started to spin, my heart pounded, I felt as though I was going to black out.
I pulled into a restaurant parking lot. Ice cold heat ran from my head to my toes. "I'm dying," I thought. My heart beat like crazy, so irregular. I couldn't think. I felt so incoherent.
I staggered out of my vehicle (thank God that my children weren't with me) and started pounding on the side door of the restaurant. I didn't know what I would say to whoever answered; I just needed help. No one came.
Back in my car, I called Brad. I told him that I thought I was dying. I remember crying and feeling so out of control. My heart was fluttering, flying everywhere. My body was cold then hot.
9-1-1. The ambulance arrived. The ride was a blur of anxiety. I remember seeing the road that I drove so frequently rush past me in the windows of the back of the ambulance. I thought that that would be the last time I rode down that road. Not knowing then that that road, that spot, would become such a powerful trigger of anxiety and panic.
For several months after that, I lived a prisoner in the walls of my home. Terrified to drive in fear that it would happen again. For a while I felt safe here at home. But then the fear started to overcome me here too. I knew I needed help. The anxiety, the panic, was now accompanied by the heavy weight of depression. Where is the confident girl I used to be? Where did she go???? My mind screamed this night and day. No peace in these bones when you only see in black and gray.
I reluctantly started on an antidepressant after living for a couple of months in a dark mental prison. I couldn't live like that anymore. I had no other choice. And slowly, very slowly, I began to regain my life. Slowly and with many ups and downs.
Fast forward to January 2010 - I am crushed to find out that because of my history of antidepressant use, we would not be permitted to adopt Sergei. I am feeling better. I am functioning. I successfully wean myself from my medicine under the supervision of my doctor.
July 2010 - I am in the ER at Children' hospital, 24 hours after returning from our five-week adoption trip to Ukraine, jet-lagged and sick to my stomach. My 7-year-old son is being battered with tests to rule out a stroke. What made my baby boy's face droop and what made his words come out all slurred during the dark of the night?
I'm standing in the ER room, after an exhausting night and day, watching my baby come out from the anesthesia. I haven't slept in 48 hours or more. I haven't eaten since early morning. It is around 5pm. I am sick to my stomach. I have watched my son, scared, cry and cry. That's when it comes again, spreading its poison through my body.
No! I just spent five weeks in a foreign country. I was brave enough to leave my children for that entire time. I conquered so many fears on that trip. I had felt the awesome protection and intervention of God so many ways. IT cannot come back. But it did.
Those feelings. Those out-of-control, heavy feelings. And then came our adoption transitional period, which was nightmarish in so many ways. And slowly, I felt that oppressive dark of depression creeping back. I felt in over my head. I felt out of control. I was becoming that prisoner again.
Today, April 11th, 2010 - On "the prescribed calm" as Ann Voskamp describes it in her book. And I'm living again. And the feelings, they are still there, but the medication enables me to work through them. And I'm learning how to truly be released from fear. And I've learned that, like all things worth learning, it takes time and discipline. It's training the mind, buffing up on the TRUTH, and accepting imperfection and setbacks. Freedom from fear permits the mind to see in color again...
I'm learning that God is showing me through this trial of the mind, how not to have "the spirit of fear" but how to have the "spirit of power, love, and a sound mind" that is mine through Christ.
And I've been wanting to share this with you all for the last six months or so because it's part of who I am.
And I've been praying for the words. Words that would maybe encourage someone, somewhere. I can't hide behind this anymore. I can't hide because I want God to use it. And He can't use it if I hide behind it. It's my reality, and He's using it to change me, to mold me into the daughter He destined me to be.
And, oh, how I've grown in my walk with Christ in these last two years. When you can hardly get out of bed in the morning because you're afraid that your heart will fail you, when you can't talk to anyone because they wouldn't understand these irrational feelings you're having if they've never experienced them themselves, when you feel utterly hopeless, these are the things that tend to bring one to the full realization of their need of full dependence on Christ.
And my prayer has been that this suffering, this pain, would not be in vain. That God would use it. Because that's what our God does. He takes the ugly and He makes it beautiful. He can use ALL things for His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom when His children surrender themselves to Him. And, oh, how I desire to daily, moment by moment, surrender myself to Him. Because this life isn't easy, but it is victorious through Him.
He's conquered death. He's poured out His Spirit on His children. He lives within us, changing us, bringing into a fuller understanding of Him and His purpose and the mystery of His will.
And now my heart feels lighter knowing that you all know the real girl behind Making A Home. I'm thankful for the words, finally set free. I'm really just a sin-stained girl, saved by God's grace alone, striving to abide in Him. Learning to fall into His arms of grace and mercy. Learning about the fullness and freedom found in His love. Learning to live life fully and fearless in Him.