So we're on holiday at the moment, a much much needed holiday for rest and restoration out in the English countryside with fresh air, wind, chilly sunshiny mornings, hills and quiet.
I've wanted to write this post for a while but somehow daytimes get busy, in the evenings I'm with Sam & I could never write this while I had any kind of distraction around me but let's be honest it's not an easy one to write.
First things first I've been dealing with a whole lot of anxiety issues. Why write about it now? Why out in the open? I have noticed lately other bloggers writing about this subject and found myself in awe at how open they can be about the things they have been through but what I'd found incredible was how they had overcome it or at least were beginning to overcome it and I found it so encouraging and hopeful that, although weeks/months later, I feel ready to share my story & hope that it encourages even one person.
18 months or so ago I began waking up with nausea, sometimes even physically being sick. Oh great...I can't possibly be pregnant! Drs appointment booked, 'no, not pregnant....are you stressed?', 'not in the slightest' I replied but that was the only apparent solution for then. I feel like I've dealt with stress pretty well. I've never let much bother me, even with school exams I knew it was something I just had to do so why waste emotional energy worrying about it...and that's how I've been through most things. I'm not a worrier. Blood tests and other tests for anything and everything done but nothing was wrong. Ok, that's great but what's going on? Nausea for months now? My health for months was deteriorating in a way I had never felt before but nothing in the slightest obvious. There was no external sign that anything was wrong, it was all internal. I hadn't felt 'well' in six whole months.
A very long story short (spanning 9-10 months) I had two jobs, two jobs that I really enjoyed to begin with but began to get very unhealthy & dangerous (in a mind manipulating, verbal abuse kind of way) & neither ended very well.
I wrote THIS post after the second one ended and that is how I genuinely felt, even when I read it back now I know I truly meant every word & I'm even encouraged myself to remember that's how it was but in the midst of all that and in the weeks after I still knew something wasn't okay and life began to stop. I began to drift one day into the next and I began to hurt, my mind stopped trusting, believing, living. We moved house in this period of time & I was kept very busy building a new home for us, redecorating rooms, completing DIY projects and filling the rest of my time with social media. Life was okay but it was not good. The sickness still came and went over those long months but it became something that I no longer reacted to. It became part of my life & I dealt with it in whatever way was easiest including avoiding people, events, going out of the house. I was safe inside & my sickness was controllable. I was in control....
Then one day I heard something about anxiety. 'Whatever that is...' Long story short (again) I went on an anxiety course that was provided by our church. I went & I really didn't want to go. When I was there I wanted to go home but then it began to all make sense. I was understanding anxiety and it was like someone had written the course for me. Someone finally gets it! We worked through THIS workbook and seriously anyone struggling with anxiety this is a hugely helpful tool which allows you to understand your anxiety, work through it & rethink it! I could not recommend it more.
This course was definitely helpful for me but because it was done in a group I knew I needed to delve deeper & get more specific.
With a little encouragement from a few people I finally went into counselling with someone I trusted & had known for years. This is not to say you need to know your counsellor and have a personal relationship as well as a professional one but for me it was really helpful & I knew I would be able to be honest & open and that's the important thing. The sessions included some really intense prayer time too which was extremely important for me to process through some of the things that happened to me & were spoken over me.
I write about it so easily now but believe me to even be able to submit to counselling was a huge thing for me. I believed it came with weakness, embarrassment and shame but now I see how much strength, boldness and bravery that took to get to that point and it was the best thing I have ever done.
Now this is definitely a journey I am still on but the tools I have been given to understand myself better & understand the way I think has very much changed my life. I am myself again. I have freedom and I see more freedom ahead of me.
Last week I was watching some terrible daytime TV while planning blog posts, not thinking about anything to do with anything I'd been through when suddenly I had this image of myself up a hill, in a secluded spot, the space and air open all around me and I saw myself sobbing. Sobbing really hard. In reality my eyes suddenly started to water but I shook it off pretty quickly wondering where on earth that came from. Then I was reminded of how much freedom I am still promised by God, how much more He has for me, that His love is SO deep, SO wide, SO strong and nothing but good is promised to me.
'Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free' - John 8 v 32
I am not glad that everything happened, in fact I wish it had never have happened BUT God makes all things work together for our good (Romans 8 v 28) and I have truly seen that in action in my own life this past year. I see how I'm a stronger better person, I even see how it will make me a better parent when we eventually decide to start our own family. Sometimes things still hurt but I'm in a good place with the knowledge to know how to deal with it. In all the pain of times past today I feel really good. If tomorrow is a bad day, that's fine. God is with me.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading, for listening.
And I leave you with this which spoke to me in a thousand words:
"Grow strong in your weakness. Some of My children I've gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of fragility. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust Me, to lean on Me rather than your own understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness".
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. (women's edition)