Monday, March 25, 2013

Deliver Us from All Anxiety

One of the things I miss in the new translation of the Mass are the words, "deliver us from all anxiety." Somehow "deliver us from all distress," while presumably more accurate to the Latin, isn't as meaningful to me, especially when I am in the grips of an anxiety attack. I want to be delivered from anxiety, not just distress!

Since I've admitted to suffering from anxiety, I've been surprised at how many people have told me that they, too, have had their experience with this particular demon. People who appear to have their lives in complete order, with success in every aspect from relationships to finances, say that they battled or still do battle anxiety.

I'm not sure that misery loves company is quite accurate in this case, but it is interesting how many people carry this dark secret. And make no mistake...this is a very dark secret. The kind of dark secret that is usually associated with alcoholism, drug addiction or other types of haunting addictions. It's one thing to say that you are nervous; it's another to admit that even when you are sitting safely in a chair, looking out into a bright spring day, your heart is racing, there's a stabbing pain in your solar plexus and you don't feel like you are going to survive another minute, much less another day or week or month.

I wish I could tell those of you who have confided in me that I have the answer, the solution. I don't. Sometimes I get a modicum of relief and have a respite from the fear, but so far it has always returned. For me, it begins with my first breath in the morning, rising to a crescendo by mid-afternoon and, on the good days, diminishing by evening. Sometimes, by the time the moon is rising, I actually have moments of calm and peace. Those moments I treasure and try not to think that they will be gone by break of day.

It's the hardest battle I've ever fought and I'm not sure that I will win. All I know is that I keep trying and keep fighting and keep praying that perhaps, just perhaps, when the sun rises one morning, the demon will be left perpetually in the dark night of my soul.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Gratitude, Prayer Score Card and Anxiety

When I struggle with anxiety and panic, I become a hermit crab.

I withdraw, retreat, and everything from this blog to friends to laundry is left behind. That's what has happened these past few days. I've gone into my shell, trying to keep the battering waves at bay.

I don't think that I've ever faced anything as difficult as coping with the anxiety that has been my near-constant companion for nearly two years, starting when my mother first went on hospice and through her death and the last year of grief.

Oddly enough, twice now, in the middle of a raging panic attack, I was told what a calm person I was. Outwardly, apparently, I do appear serene, but on the inside, my heart is racing, my chest is aching and every muscle fiber twitches with "fight or flight." And yet, by dint of will and practice, I must look as if I am very much in control of myself.  Perhaps that's why I retreat when the pain is too great. It's much easier to be calm when you are hidden under the bedclothes than when you are out in public.

As we enter into Holy Week, I went back to read what I had written last year about Jesus, the Garden of Gethsemane and panic attacks. And as we enter into Holy Week, once again I pray that perhaps with Easter will come healing and restoration and anxiety may become for me, just a memory of a time recorded on a blog. This is the week of miracles, after all.

With that, this Sunday I am grateful for:
  1. Trader Joe's Dixie Peach juice that tastes like summer when summer seems far away
  2. to lilacs, my favorite flower
  3. The ongoing and joyful restitution of a relationship
  4. Bits of blue in an otherwise grey sky
  5. Hope...even when I'm feeling like a hermit card

As for the prayer score card,
12 No answer
and 1--not sure.  I had prayed for clear direction on a decision and I never got direction, but I had to make a decision.  So not sure if that is a yes, no, or no answer.