Listen.

A woman wearing a long skirt, with long blonde hair, is dancing and praising God, while silhouetted against the evening sky

Today was my fourth Hot Yoga class. It was also the second time I have cried in class. That is 50%. I would say I am batting pretty good. I didn’t cry because I wanted to throw up. Or pass out. Or because I was dizzy. I cried because I realized something. I realized what a gift it is to listen to my body. I realized I need to pay attention to what it is telling me. It’s not like I don’t know how to pay attention. I pay attention to my husband, kids, friends, and everything else that is clamoring for my focus, love, and affection. My body is clamoring too. It desperately wants my focus. My love. My affection. It desperately wants me to listen.

As I look back over my 40 years, I can distinctly see that my body shouts differently and in a way that is hard for me to hear. It shouts in a way I don’t recognize at times, or simply don’t want to. For years it has silently screamed at me with signs for help. Stop doing that Niki, it hurts! Don’t eat that Niki, you will feel sick. Go to sleep Niki, you are tired. Breathe Niki, you are drowning. Say no Niki, you aren’t supposed to do that. But I, in my all-knowing wisdom for how my life should run, ignored my body for so long that finally even the shouting signs were complete and utter silence to me. I had methodically turned a blind eye. That is, until I fell. Until I broke. Until I spiraled down a black hole and landed in the hospital almost two years ago with a full blown anxiety attack. My body had finally found a way to get the message across. Niki. Stop. It’s time to listen. So I did.

Not because I chose to stop and listen, but my body had enough of my abuse and neglect and it made me stop and listen. It stopped itself for me, and changed my life forever. Thank you, body. The first Hot Yoga class I attended, I was a little nervous. Could my battered and still recovering body even do this? I didn’t know. But what I did know, was that I had to try. I knew exercise was a missing piece for me. It had been two years since I stopped my habit of running. I was too sick to run. I went walking with my husband which was wonderful, but not really a stress reliever or sweat inducer. I even tried running a few times (because I haven’t got the listening to my body thing quite down yet) only to have set backs until I finally played my cards of acceptance and saw running for what it was in my life. A nice piece of my past that had served its purpose for that time. Things were different now. I was different now, and that had to be okay. Eventually, I knew it would be.

I signed up for Hot Yoga class because I knew I needed to detoxify somehow (sweat) and strengthen my body. I needed low impact and I needed something peaceful and stress relieving. Why did I think I needed to detoxify? Because I have been struggling for seven weeks straight with full blown chronic hives. Obviously, my supplements, diet changes (which have been radical), probiotics, enzymes, prebiotics, etc. were not enough. I am still sick two years later (however, with some progress). Elimination isn’t cutting it. Elimination and supplements aren’t cutting it. How do I know this? I am covered in hives. Every day. Every night. Hives have made me listen. It took a few weeks of hives to tune in. I just thought I’d take my antihistamines for a while and I would be all better. But, I’m not. So now I’m listening. For some reason I am a hard learner.

About a week ago during church service there was a call for prayer. My heart leapt, and I knew what I needed to do. Go down to the altar and have someone pray for me. Recently, I was listening online to a very well know speaker who talked about how, yes, it is wonderful if God does a miracle, but our struggle through the problem is what causes us to grow. So far I hadn’t had any miracles regarding my health. But yes, I had grown and changed. As I made my way down to the front for prayer, I remembered a scripture that had been on my tongue often these past two years.

“If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

Standing at the altar I shared a fraction of my story and I asked for healing and wisdom. They prayed for me and I went back to my seat. The Word of God says that if you lack wisdom, ask Him. He will give it generously. I need wisdom to heal my body. I have no idea why I have chronic hives that can only be suppressed by eight antihistamines a day. Eight. A normal person with a hive outbreak will see them burn out in a day or maybe even a week or two. I am on week seven. I have eliminated all problem foods as far as I know and still, day after day, my body is covered in hives. I desperately need God’s wisdom and guidance. So I prayed, had friends pray with me, and I asked for wisdom.

The next day my scripture was:

“This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17 (NIV)

He was going to teach me what was best for my body and direct me where I should go and how to take care of it. I didn’t have the answers. He did. The Bible tells me so. That day, as I was researching my symptoms, I came upon a site about histamine intolerance. My eyes widened in disbelief as I read on and on for hours about a condition that affects around 1% of the population. A condition that hasn’t been widely recognized. Was this why I was have having allergic like reactions if I was consuming nothing I was allergic too? I checked off symptom after symptom, a ray of hope beginning to burn in my soul. Is this what was wrong with me? Is this what was wrong with my body? Did I not have enough of the correct enzyme to break down histamine so it builds, and builds, and builds until my histamine bucket overflows? Do other people out there suffering with hives for weeks, months, and even years know about this condition? I know I didn’t. But God did.

Histamine is a normal part of our body. We create histamine during digestion. Pretty much all food has histamine. So what was going on with my body and histamine? As I read on over the week about this subject, I learned that some bodies can’t handle histamine like other bodies can. I don’t even know the size of my bucket yet but considering how sick I’ve been I must have been blessed with a small one. My hope grew as I researched more about this fascinating intolerance. I pored over article after article, noting low-histamine food lists and emailing myself information about foods to avoid and all the places histamine can be found. I memorized high histamine foods, which were (not shockingly) all the foods I am either allergic to or have major food sensitivities too. Things began to come together for me. I recalled about half-way through my hive outbreak that I cut out processed foods and all natural sugars (fruit) and my hives did improve, they were only half as bad. They were still there, but better.

A missing piece to my elimination diet puzzle fell into place as I rid my diet of the last few high histamine foods I had been consuming daily (tomatoes for example) and began to focus on replacing what I had eliminated with highly nutritious, low histamine foods. My world tilted and I saw things differently. My lotion, shampoo, conditioner, nail polish, make-up, etc. were all adding to my histamine bucket. I bought fresh foods like organic chicken, fresh basil, cabbage, etc. and began to feed my body healing foods. Nutritious foods. I still steered clear of allergen foods and especially foods I had a huge intolerance for. My thinking shifted to eating to heal my body, not just eliminate what was hurting it. Nutrition to heal my gut and cleansing, detoxifying, strengthening exercise was clearly the next step in my journey back to health.

One week. One week of Hot Yoga, low histamine food consumption and high nutrition diet and I am down to one antihistamine at night (sometimes two if I have a big stressor). One. I was on eight last week. I would say I am pretty confident that I have a histamine intolerance. I asked for wisdom and God was faithful. For two years I have stumbled and eliminated getting a little better, and then a lot worse. Not very encouraging for someone who has struggled, eliminated, cut-back, etc. You are supposed to get better, not worse, right? Today, I feel like I have solid direction. A path to go on, if I so choose. I know I won’t heal overnight. But I know, I can heal. I know God has a major part for me to play in finding total health and wellness. It’s clear in the scriptures I shared. I need to ask for wisdom. Then he will teach me (and I need to do) and he will show me the path (and I need to go). This is a very active relationship here. God didn’t zap me with a miracle. But he is guiding me every step of the way. That to me is my miracle.

My scripture at the end of this past week was:

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 AMP

He showed me the path. So, as I laid quietly on my mat in Hot Yoga for my last five minutes of class, the tears came. The yoga position I was in, is called Shavasana (or, the corpse). You lay on your back with your arms at your side with your palms up and you breathe through your nose and relax. You can also lay on your stomach with your head turned to the side and your arms resting at your side. This position, on my stomach with my head turned to the right is where the cleansing tears came. Shavasana is meant to regroup and rest yourself. As I rested and listened to my body, I was gently reminded that my body had been trying on its own to help me. You see, at night, over the past couple of years when I fall asleep, I fall asleep in the Shavasana position. Tummy down, head turned to the right, and arms at my sides with my palms up. My body knew. My body was seeking peace and rest. Something I wasn’t giving it. My body was trying to let go of anxiety and stress, even if I wouldn’t. I have never done any type of Yoga. I knew nothing about the practice before this week. Yet my body, gloriously created by God, was trying so hard to help me. I just wouldn’t listen.

Well, I am listening now. I may have ignored and silenced my body for years, however, I have my whole life ahead of me to listen. To listen when I need to stop. To listen when I need to go. To listen when I need to rest. To listen when I need to say no. The lie that would like to take root is that I don’t have time to take care of myself. The truth is, I don’t have time to not take care of myself. Not taking care of me resulted in a major anxiety attack that I have been slowly crawling back to life from for the past two years. Who has time for that? So today, I am going to do what I am supposed to do. Whatever that may be, and in order to do that, I need to listen. I am going to seek God, I am going to take care of me, which in turn will flood new life in to my home, my marriage, my children, and my relationship with others in this great big world. Today, I choose to listen. – Niki

Advertisements

Letting Go: Why You Don’t and Why You Absolutely Need To In the Midst of Chaos

Bansky there is always hope

Last month I took a morning walk to take a moment to breathe and pray and this was the question that settled in my heart. Why, Niki, do people want to hold on to a person that does not want to be held?

That is a loaded question and not swiftly answered. As I ruminated on it with every step I took, I knew that it was a question I needed to seriously consider. It is one thing if a person is clinging to you for survival and they desperately and truly want help. But why hold on to someone who is dead weight in your arms or even worse, kicking and screaming their way out of them? Can’t the person holding on see that they just took an elbow to the rib, a fist to the eye or a kick to the stomach? They’re not even holding on yet we insist. We insist on not letting them go.

Why is that? Why don’t we let go?

Because it seems like you are giving up. When you have exhausted all of your resources, time, energy, money, and let’s get real here…patience, and you have to say “no” or even send them on their way you feel like a failure. What kind of person “gives up” on a family member or a friend that is in obvious distress? It’s hard to look in the mirror as a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister (you fill in the blank) and to honestly admit that you have laid it all out there and somebody else has got to step in. The lie is that you are giving up. It is not giving up. It is giving OVER. That is a big difference. You love this person so much (and you and others involved) that it’s time to let go and let God and others do their work. You’ve done yours. Now let them do theirs. God has promised to never leave or forsake them (Hebrews 13:5). He will always be with them wherever they go. When you give over you haven’t abandoned them. God is walking with them through this storm and you are there too praying and trusting God to do the work that you cannot do.

Because that makes you a bad parent/relative/friend. If I stop helping them I am a bad parent. If I stop rescuing them I am a bad relative. If I am not there for them I am a bad friend. If I were just doing more then I could help them. If I just gave them one more chance or one more opportunity they would get better. If I don’t give them that chance, I may be missing a moment where they will turn around. Then, it will be my fault that they don’t get better.

Letting go of someone who is not ready for help does not make you a bad person. It does not mean that you don’t love them. If you can stop for a moment and rehearse the pattern of the person living in chaos, you will see that your one more chance will most likely end up in flames. Again. Because guess what? They aren’t ready for help. They’ve been backed into a corner and have nowhere else to go and they are in full blown survival mode. So, your one more chance is only extending their stay in the chaos, and now you are camped with them in it. They will not hit their rock bottom with you cushioning the fall. And truth be told, even if you let go there is no guarantee they will ever hit their rock bottom. Meaning, that place where they wake up and will do anything to change and find true healing. Letting go actually makes you a good parent. A good relative. A good spouse. A good friend. Letting go helps them reach a place where they are motivated from the inside to get help.

Because no one knows them like you do. But I know all of the in’s and out’s. I know all of their struggles and their history. I get why they act like that or make bad choices or aren’t responsible. Someone else won’t get that, and won’t give them the right counsel…I could go on and on. Maybe it would be better for someone to NOT know them like you do so they can cut through all of the smokescreens and speak some truth. Not that you don’t speak truth, but sometimes truth is better heard from someone completely removed from the situation. Isn’t it a little bit prideful to think you are the only one that can help them because you “get” them? The truth is whether you like it or not it’s pretty easy to get manipulated by someone you love. Let someone without any attachment present them the truth and be unwavering. Yes, you can get to that point (unwavering), but it’s never easy. You don’t have to do this alone. Honestly, the longer you walk this journey you may find that you don’t know the person like you thought you did. Survival is a powerful shield that covers up and protects. What you can do is rest in the knowledge that God knows them inside and out. He knows them better than they know themselves. Psalm 139 says that He knows everything about us including our thoughts and what we are going to say before we say it. Maybe we don’t know the person like we thought we did but God surely does. That is a comforting thought as you are in the process of letting go and can be a focus of your prayers for this person.

Because you don’t have healthy boundaries. This is the biggest obstacle to letting go, and in my opinion, it is the most important thing you can do in the relationship. You need to set healthy boundaries. It is mandatory. If you do not set healthy boundaries, you will never have peace and you will never be able to let go. Here is an example of healthy boundaries:

“Hey, can you pick me up so I can go to an appointment? I really need to go.”

You: “I can pick you up after I run some errands. I’m able to take you to the appointment but I’m not able to give you a ride after.”

“Okay…thanks. I have other things planned though and I need a ride after.”

You: “Okay. Well, you can always reschedule if this time doesn’t work for you.”

You need to know what you are and are not okay with, and stick to your guns for the sake of your family; so you aren’t raging mad with bitterness at the person in your life. A conversation like this could really get someone in a tizzy if they do not have healthy boundaries. Unhealthy boundaries would have you rearrange the whole day and drop everything to rescue this person. That is not peaceful for you and may plant seeds of resentment. Try taking a moment to look at your schedule and offer something you are okay with. Throwing your life and schedule to the wind for a non-emergency situation will not foster peace; it will cultivate anger. It’s not your fault or problem that they don’t have a car or don’t live close to work or that they’ve burned all of their bridges and have no one else to help them. They put themselves there. Of course you need to be aware of what is a true emergency of physical health, etc. That is different. But if the crisis has shown up before, it will probably show up again, and you aren’t responsible to rescue someone due to their poor planning and bad choices. If you know what you are okay with doing and offer that you have shown clear boundaries. That is something you can live with.

Because you want your kid/friend/whoever to like you. This has got to stop. If you live like this you will never be able to say no and you will never have boundaries. Who cares if they like you or not? You know you love them and you know you aren’t going anywhere. You also know their pattern and eventually there will be no one left in their life at that moment to help but you on the sidelines with your healthy, loving boundaries. So, if currently they don’t like you, there is a good chance they will later on. It’s not about having people like us. It’s about living in truth and being healthy for you and for them. That may not be their normal but it is your normal. Throw this attitude of needing people to like you to the wind and just live in truth. If you don’t, you will camp out here for a long time not doing what you should be doing because you are afraid someone won’t like or love you anymore. That will be a prison and a terrible place to be. You literally have handed authority over to them especially if they live in your home. If you are walking on egg shells around someone, or are afraid to speak up, then that is your HUGE RED FLAG waving wildly at you to change course direction.

God can help you break that power. You need to open your mouth and speak truth, even if you are shaking in your boots and don’t want to do it. The Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). He hasn’t! Take note when you are walking in fear. That emotion is not from the Lord. Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and speak the truth because that is where you will find peace. When you speak truth you can stand firm on what you know no matter what the person’s response is. Lies topple and fall but truth withstands any onslaught that comes against it. Sometimes you need to do life afraid. Being afraid doesn’t mean you don’t do the right thing. You do the right thing afraid and as you keep doing that you will see your boundaries come into place and peace settle in your heart. You will take back your power and know the strength of walking in truth.

So, why is it absolutely necessary for us to let go?

Because you are enabling. No one wants to hear that you are enabling someone you love, helping keep them in their chaotic cycle. No one. But it’s true. If you are enabling you are part of the problem. Do you really want that responsibility? If you always rescue them, they aren’t learning. Now, they might not learn if you don’t rescue them, but they most certainly won’t if you do. For example:

“Mom, can you loan me money? I need to pay for my phone. I can pay you back in five days.”

Mom: “Well, I guess so.”

That is enabling! Try this instead:

“Mom, can you loan me money? I need to pay for my phone. I can pay you back in five days?”

Mom: “What happened to your money for your phone?”

“I’m not sure.”

Mom: “Well maybe next time you will budget your money better so you won’t have to be without your phone. Don’t worry, five days won’t be that long.”

The longer you bail people out of their self-imposed problems, the longer they will stay right there. Why should the person in the above example ever be responsible for their phone if they know Mom will always bail them out? The answer is they won’t be. You have got to stop enabling bad behavior and you need to begin cultivating good choices.

You cannot fix them. The only person you can truly change is yourself. You cannot change other people. I might need to say that again. You. Cannot. Change. Other. People. That should be a huge relief to you. Most people living in complete and utter chaos have deep and complex issues that you simply cannot fix. Only God can do that, and only they can make the decision to surrender and get help. Them and them alone. You can be available. You can talk over options with them. You can pray. You can show them the way. You can do what you are supposed to do, but fixing them shouldn’t be on the list. You will live in eternal conflict if you take that on because they will not come through for you. It has got to be a heart change, not a behavior change. You cannot renew their mind. God is the only one that can wash over them and change them from the inside out (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 5:26) and they have to let Him. Behavior change is ALWAYS temporary. You are not responsible for their journey. They are.

You risk sacrificing your marriage/children/other relationships. Being at odds with one another regarding how to deal with a difficult person can bring quite a bit of division in a marriage or other relationships. Until you learn to walk in unity and play on the same team you will have conflict. A decision to not sacrifice a spouse to solve someone else’s problems needs to be made. When you get on the same page regarding what you will and will not do for the person in your life that lives in chaos, it is freeing. Unity equals freedom. If you are a parent it is the same thing. Make a decision not to sacrifice everyone else and their schedules every time a self-manufactured “crisis” arises. Unless it is a true emergency, your schedule should not change unless you all agree . That means that you don’t cancel a birthday party, a date, a vacation because someone calls crying, they are stuck somewhere or they don’t know what to do with a particular situation. Keep boundaries firm and trust that the one that you love is firmly in God’s hands. Isaiah 49:16 says that God’s chosen people are engraved on the palms of His hands. That’s a pretty great image. God has got this. You just need to do your part. Nothing more, nothing less or you could really end up hurting the people around you.

You don’t want to be doing this the rest of your life…do you? Because you will. If you want to get on their roller coaster and ride it all day long into the sunset, you certainly can, and they probably would love to have you along for the ride. My mom spoke some wise advice to me a few years back regarding unhealthy relationships. She said, “So, let’s say a person is going around a mountain again. You can run around the mountain with them or pack them a lunch.” That was my mom’s way of saying, “Off you go and here is a bit of encouragement for YOUR journey. However, I will not be going on the journey with you.” So her question to me was what should I do? Go around that mountain or pack the lunch? My answer was you should probably pack them a lunch. So, if you have someone in your life going around the mountain again, chances are you’ve already seen that mountain and you don’t need a second look. Pack them a lunch.

Do you still want to be holding their hand in 10 years with no forward progress? For your sake and theirs the answer should be no. They need to find help and healing and we should do everything healthy to point them in that direction. You want them to be well and whole and you don’t want to be the person that gets in the way of that healing because you are enabling. They might not be any different in 10 years no matter what you do. But at least you know that you have done what you should do. Nobody knows what the future holds except God, but the possibility is there for healing. Every day you can look to God for what you are supposed to do in your particular situation. We are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Sometimes the things we are asked to do don’t make sense in our mind but we can trust God who knows all, that it is the right thing to do. Then, when you trust, you can rest in peace that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. The other person may just want to keep surviving. They may want healing. That’s their journey, not yours. You have your own journey.

Nobody said this would be easy.

This isn’t an easy process and with all of these things there must be a healthy dose of compassion for the person living in chaos. Remember where this person came from. Remember what they have gone through and what they have suffered. Remembering helps so much to keep the compassion alive as you lovingly stop enabling them and erect healthy boundaries for you and your family.

Every person and situation is different. That is why it is so important that you prayerfully take things to the Lord and seek help in every direction so you can better help the one you love and yourself. Reaching out for support from your church, counselor, doctor, mental health professional, support group, etc. is key to helping you help them. You also need to know your limits and establish your healthy boundaries so you can walk in truth and love at all times during this journey with your loved one(s).

On the airlines they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first and then assist others. You won’t be any help if you put theirs on first and then pass out. Put your oxygen mask on first. Find someone safe you can talk to and gain support from. Get your sleep. Keep a balanced schedule. Go to your doctor if you need to. Slow down. Take a breather. Do something for yourself. Get in the Bible and let it be your anchor. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there (again and again). Keep your eye on Him during the storm. Pray. When you can’t pray (because there may be times you just can’t) have someone else pray for you and/or with you. Ask for help. Keep on letting go.

For the person that you love who is struggling, remember that the chaos is comfortable and familiar because that is where they feel they belong. However, you don’t and you don’t have to go there with them. That might be their normal but it isn’t yours. You don’t belong in the chaos and ultimately they don’t belong there either. They just don’t know it yet.

– Niki Breeser Tschirgi

Forget Not His Benefits (Part 6)

Image

My road to healing has been multi-faceted. It has been a combination of prayer, lifestyle change, medication, chiropractic care, massage therapy and supplements. I honestly believe that if I had just thrown medication at my anxiety I would not be this far along in my journey. In fact, I think I would have been quite hopeless and maybe heading back down my deep dark pit to an even deeper and darker place.

Before my anxiety attack I had been in contact with a metabolic doctor. I was so convinced that food allergies were my problem that a friend reached out to me and encouraged me to get the ALCAT (food allergy test) done. When I went searching online there was only one office in Spokane who offered it and they specialized in metabolic issues. This resonated within me because if you don’t get to the root of a problem you will never truly get better. That goes for the physical and the emotional. What was going on inside of me that had made me such a mess?

I went in and had a consult and got set up for testing. We actually didn’t do the food allergy test but rather a baseline intensive blood workup to see where I was at on the inside. The place you cannot see. All of this took time. If there was one thing I was learning it was patience and endurance and that any progress at all was still progress. I was simply learning to wait. When my testing came back I found out I had a problem with gluten and dairy. I also discovered I was extremely low on Vitamin D and deficient, and when I say deficient I mean it was bottom of the barrel low on Vitamin E and B. To top it off I had an off the charts yeast overgrowth throughout my whole body. No wonder I felt so sick.

For the first time in almost a year I felt a tiny beam of hope shoot out of me and slice through my confusion and darkness. It was pointing me in a direction. After months of quiet desperation I physically felt a departing of some of the wondering. I had been quietly clawing up the wrong trees and the shift in direction released my constant companion of worry and heaviness that I had gotten used to carrying. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to have a quiet mind so used to the frantic whirlwind of thoughts I had become. The winds of desperation had finally calmed down and a piece of peace took its place. I was then reminded about something that God had spoken to my heart a few months earlier as I asked Him a question about a certain family situation. What if this situation steals my peace? To which my ever so wise God said, “I am the source of your peace. Not your circumstances but me.” So even though I was in the midst of adjusting, waiting, testing and figuring things out my circumstances were not going to dictate my peace. My source of peace was Christ. I needed to be reminded.

After we reviewed all my testing I felt grateful; so grateful that I had been encouraged to take it to another level. I don’t know when I would have discovered the inside of me problems I was having if I had not seen this new doctor. I was out of balance, had an unusual yeast overgrowth and had some alarming numbers that required some genetic testing…and I thought it was just allergies and asthma.

Heading for home I was armed with a very large pill box (and a staggering supplement bill) to accommodate my needs. I was taking more than twenty pills a day to get my body back in balance and had radically changed my diet. It was restrictive but it was okay. I had to get better. If the doctor had told me to eat dirt I would have. Sometimes you have to get to a place where you really are ready to make a change and for me I was ready to do whatever it took to get my life back.

I continued on my supplements, medications and my restrictive diet for two months fully believing that by the end of my two months I would be 100% on my way to making a full recovery if not already there. After all, I had been suffering a year already right? Wasn’t that long enough? I was doing exactly what the doctor said and never missed a dose of anything. I began to notice good changes in my body. The tiredness was mostly gone, I was sleeping well and I was dropping weight. I still couldn’t run. I tried one time and my body screamed “NO” and I almost passed out. I began to accept the fact that I probably would not run again for maybe up to a year. I may not even run again ever. I was finding my new normal and finding ways to accept it.

After my two months I got another round of blood tests done and excitedly waited for my results. I was eager to meet with my doctor to see what my next step was. I was excited to see how I was better and how I would walk out of there with just maybe one or two supplements a day. When it was time for me to receive my results I plopped down in the chair expectant for a stellar report. The good news was my vitamin deficiencies had come back into balance and the genetic test proved to be a simple fix of taking a supplement to keep my body in balance. But then came the news I was not expecting. My yeast levels had not changed at all. They were still off the charts. I had eliminated most of the sugar in my life (sugar feeds yeast) and I had faithfully taken my prescription twice a day. Why hadn’t that worked? Apparently, I had a resistant strain. I left my doctor’s office and found myself back on another two months of a prescription medication, a natural anti-fungal that tasted like diluted perfume and an even more strict diet of only meats, nuts and vegetables. I also had to add a few more supplements because my restricted diet had made me deficient in a few things. Why was my body so angry at me? Why wasn’t it obeying me?

I headed home and swung by the pharmacy to pick up my medications. Even though I felt so discouraged the visit forced me to reflect on the “why” of why all this was happening? I wondered if what God was really doing was more of a complete work in me. I had a feeling God was doing far above and beyond what I could imagine because He knows me and loves me. Yes, He was helping me and teaching me to walk through anxiety but on a deeper level could he be setting me free from addiction?

For over twenty years I had battled emotional eating and I had prayed to God that He would do what it took to set me free. Food had been a bondage I could not break. Believe me I had tried only to gain back all the weight I had lost because I had not dealt with the root of the problem. Was now the time for me to break free? I had just done a strict two month diet and was going to do another three months of an even stricter regimen. Gone were the things I had run to when I was happy, sad, angry, anxious or depressed. I couldn’t turn to them anymore. Was God saying two months wasn’t enough to set me free from my food addiction? I contemplated who I was and I settled in a place of trust. Maybe, just maybe I needed more time defeating this unhealthy relationship with food that had been with me all of my adult life. I recognized that I had gone from an attitude of this is only a change for a little bit to get better (then I can eat again!) to I’ve just made a whole life change and when I am balanced and healthy I will not go back.

As my thoughts continued to ponder I left the pharmacy and made my way back home. I could not have done any of this on my own. He in His grace brought me to a place of brokenness so that I might find healing. I couldn’t see it a few months ago but I could see it clear as day now. He was getting me ready for something. Something I could not do until I was broken and the pieces could be swept out of my life, not left for me to glue back together. Was I going to embrace the change and stand firm in the way He wanted me to go? I desperately wanted to. Realizing the depth of the work He was doing I saw my pinpoint of light shine brighter in my darkness illuminating my path to lead the way. I don’t know how long the path might be but does it really matter? I can see the path and all that I need to do is simply put one foot in front of the other and follow it.

Forget Not His Benefits (Part 4)

Image

Those next few days after Christmas were the worst. I had no idea that an anxiety attack would wreak such havoc on my physical body. It was like every cell in my being had been revved up to its highest ability and now every cell in my body was completely and totally exhausted and needed who knows how long to recover. How could something in my brain be so debilitating to me physically?

Because I had “made it” through Christmas and put my hostess hat on I had a pretty good idea why I had taken my one step forward and ten steps backward. I had been on the Lexapro and Ativan for almost a week now. During this time I had more than one person warn me about the addictive nature of Ativan (which neither doctor who saw me said anything about) so I began to wean off the drug. I knew that it was only masking my symptoms. Although I really, really liked how I felt after taking it (the suffocating feeling was gone), I knew that I could not continue if I were truly to get better. I went down to half doses every eight hours and then half doses twice a day. I could still see I was improving with the weaning so on day eight I took my last dose around lunchtime and I completely stopped the Ativan. I was nervous that was for sure. I had barely made it through “The Croods” that morning (I was due for my last dose in the middle of the movie) and had to breathe through the last 40 minutes while lying on the couch with a kid flanked on either side. If a Disney movie could stress me out (all that action and father/daughter stuff) and put me back in bed for the afternoon then I may be in big trouble the next few days. However, it just didn’t matter. I was going to stop and I was going to make it through it.

That night I went to bed conscious that I was done with the Ativan. I woke up around three o’clock in the morning like usual (one of the side effects of Lexapro can be insomnia). But, I had hope that as my body adjusted my sleep would adjust too. An hour or two later I fell back to sleep but when I woke up again I felt terrible. I had a sick feeling in my stomach like I hadn’t slept in days. My jaw was clenched so tight my head hurt and my teeth chattered for a few minutes after my initial waking. I leaned over to grab my phone to check my text messages and e-mails and there sitting in my inbox was my daily Bible verse. It was Psalm 103:2-4. I began to just glance through it. It isn’t the easiest thing to concentrate when your head is pounding, your jaw is aching and your teeth have a mind of their own. The verse said, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…”

Forget not His benefits. It hit me hard and the truth of the verse fell all over me. That verse was meant for me right at that moment for my situation. I knew then and there that I had everything I needed to make it through the next days of darkness. I had to take some action and forget not His benefits. His benefits for me are forgiveness, healing and pulling me out of the pit. I had already been forgiven but I needed healing and I needed out of my pit. I was going to forget not His benefits and I was going to praise Him for His perfect timing. Out of all the days in the year my Bible verse on the day I was coming off of the Ativan was this one. What a great, mighty and faithful God I serve.

This verse became my anchor in my hurricane. I was out deep, very deep in my ocean pit. But it didn’t matter how deep I was or how far out I was. I had an anchor I had been given that morning and I had thrown it overboard. The chain was as long as it needed to be. I was positive and absolutely sure that after I threw it out, it went down, down deep into my oceanic abyss and connected with the bottom where it hung firm. I was not going anywhere as the storm raged on because my benefit in Christ was healing. My benefit in Christ was removal from my pit.

I pulled myself out of bed so sick and so weak but I knew I had to eat or I would not have the strength I needed to get through the day. I made my way to the kitchen where I made myself a shake with extra peanut butter and protein powder and a few berries to taste and managed to consume it sprawled on the living room couch. After that I made my way back to my room, lay on my side, breathed through my nose and said over and over that I would forget not His benefits. The tightness was terrifying and my shallow breathing was alarming but I knew that I knew that I knew that my God was not a liar even though I did not feel one bit better.

I made it through the day and watched as each time passed for me to take an Ativan and I stood firm on my decision to not take one more pill. My Lexapro needed weeks to work and I was going to count the days and trust for improvement. I had read a helpful article that anxiety was an emotion. Although it was terrible it wasn’t intolerable. I recognized that what I was experiencing was anxiety. No need to be anxious that it was something else. I had already been checked out at the hospital. My lungs were clear, my heart was fine and my blood work was perfect. I was not going to die. I was going to make it. I was going to forget not His benefits. My mind was on high alert and full of irrational thoughts but the truth of the Word of God kept cutting through again and again and again. I was being tested but I hung on. This test would not last forever.

That night our youngest boy had a small cold and a cough and as I lay in bed awake most of the night my mind terrorized me with anxious thoughts. Was he still alive in his bed? Was it a deadly cold? Was it some mysterious illness and in the morning I would find him dead and I hadn’t checked on him? What kind of mother was I? My anxiety spiked high but I chose to lie in bed. I lay there breathing through my nose and waiting for morning. I would not get up and check on him. He just had a cold. He was fine. I would not bow down to my irrational thoughts. God was bringing my healing. Had he not told me the day before my anxiety attack that my healing was coming? Forget not His benefits. He pulls you out of the pit. My pit was deep but he was pulling me up.

The next morning my darling little boy wandered in with his stuffy nose looking for breakfast and I was relieved, and felt empowered. Victory for me. I know there is a difference between a mother’s instinct and anxiety and I knew the night before wasn’t a check in my heart to go rescue my boy. It was anxiety’s ugly crippling head tormenting me and I didn’t let it beat me. I was not going to forget His benefits. I began talking to my husband about my irrational thinking and he recognized how exhausting it was to talk yourself out of an anxious irrational thought in your head. For someone who doesn’t struggle with anxiety it was eye-opening for him as I explained how the night went with my thinking. I found that voicing my whole thought process was releasing and helpful. I was going to talk more about my fears and not be alone in my prison.

That is how I entered day two of coming off the Ativan. I woke up pretty much the same way with teeth chattering and the sickness you feel when you are so tired and have not slept nearly enough. However, this time my teeth ached too. My mouth was so sensitive and the thought of eating any food made my stomach roll but eat I must. I got myself out of bed and did my routine of getting a shake again. It was so much work to walk down the stairs, get everything out and make that shake but I needed to do it so I did. Then back to bed to make it through day two. The ironic thing about coming off Ativan is you have anxiety. So, as I went off medication that helped with my anxiety I felt more anxious. This was a wicked, vicious cycle that made me more and more grateful that I had an anchor in my storm.

Day three I woke up (after very little sleep) and felt a tiny bit better. It was tiny, but it was better. My stomach still lurched and my teeth still chattered but they didn’t chatter as long. I noticed the little change and that little change helped me hang on. I continued to practice breathing through my nose and taking deep breaths into my belly and holding them to relax my body. The next day was the same with a tiny bit of improvement and the next day was even better. I still couldn’t wait to take my Lexapro at eight o’clock at night. Some of my worst times were in the morning when I woke up and the hour or two before my next medication dose at night but I recognized those times and did things to cope. I rested in my bed, I prayed, I breathed and I listened to a lot of worship music. It calmed me and helped me remember all the promises I have in Christ. By day six I felt like I was over the worse of the withdrawal. I had been sleeping better and the teeth chattering was mostly gone. Every day I got about 1% better, and that was 1% better than the day before, which meant I was heading in the right direction. Sometimes in the storm that is all that really matters, that you are moving in the right direction. The direction that takes you out of the storm. But after this storm would I ever be the same? I didn’t know so I hung on to my anchor, closed my eyes and waited for my rescue.

Forget Not His Benefits (Part 2)

Image

The day I landed in the hospital I had no idea I would be there. I woke up that morning and I knew I wasn’t feeling 100% but that wasn’t new. I had promised a friend I would help them take a load of garbage to the dump and I just couldn’t go back on my promise. After I dropped the kids off at school I began to feel woozy. I attributed it to not having eaten that morning so I stopped off at the local grocery store and bought some orange juice and nuts. Protein and a little pick me up. As I sat in the car my hands began to shake so I drank half of the orange juice and started in on the nuts. Immediately my mouth was like cotton and the food was like sawdust. Washing down the dry substance in my dry throat with the rest of the orange juice an alarm went off in my head. What was going on? This was not mynormal body behavior. I called my doctor to make an appointment and found out they couldn’t get me in until four o’clock that day. That was fine. I had a friend to move anyway. I drove over to her house and sat in the car feeling foggy, and the shaking seemed to worsen. As I got out of the car and walked into her house I just looked at her and said, “I don’t feel very good.” Immediately she sat me down on her steps and pointed out that I was shaking. I informed her that I had an appointment later to which she replied, “Oh hell no, you are going to the doctor now and I am driving.”

We got on the road and the trip down the hill was a quiet blur. I could feel myself descending down, down, down somewhere but I didn’t know where. My body was literally shutting down. Wisely my friend brought me to the main urgent care and as I made my way into the waiting room I leaned on the counter, looked the receptionist in the eye and said, “I can’t breathe really well and I have tightness in my chest and I think I’m going to pass out.” She ordered me to sit and a nurse brought a wheel chair out to take me back. As I lay on the bed I fell further and further down my hole. My blood pressure was sky high and I couldn’t stop shaking. I was shaking all over. My pulse was racing and my breathing was accelerated. I couldn’t stop from going down that scary road. Immediately my mind went to my husband and to my children. I couldn’t die now. I had too much to do. But whatever was happening to my body I had no control over and I surrendered to my weakness knowing there was nothing I could do to stop the decent.

A nurse took my vital signs every few minutes and I could tell she was relieved that my blood pressure was going down. A doctor came in and talked about the testing that needed to be done to rule out a pulmonary embolism. She informed me that if that was the problem I’d have to move to the ER and did I still want to stay at this facility. It would cost me extra money to move me. What? Was she crazy? I could barely move and I was still tumbling down the rabbit hole. I thought she was probably the craziest and least compassionate doctor I had ever met but I really didn’t care because at that moment I just might be dying. I told her no I wanted to stay so they started on all the testing.

First they had me give a urine sample to prove I wasn’t pregnant. As if I could be. I know there are laws but I have six adopted children to prove I wasn’t pregnant. So with monumental effort and help from my friend I slowly headed over to the bathroom to prove my point. When it came back negative I just smiled inside. Victory for me! Next they had me go downstairs for a chest x-ray. Yes. Downstairs. I shuffled out of my curtained room past the waiting room into the main entrance to an elevator where I shuffled to the receptionist in the x-ray room who then had me take a seat. I’m surprised I didn’t just pass out then and there. They called me back quickly and I stood and hung onto the machine with almost all of my body weight pulling me down while they took my chest pictures. Then it was back out of the x-ray room and into the elevator back through the main entrance and waiting room of the urgent care. When I made it to the hall to go back to my room I stopped abruptly and felt the whole world go black. My friend grabbed my arm and the nurse raced to my side with a wheelchair. As I sat down I thought, “My that wheel chair would have been nice for my recent hospital tour.”

Wheeling me back into my room I could not get out of my wheel chair. “Please, just let me sit here.” I said to the nurse. She complied and took my vitals while I sat slumped over. About ten minutes later I was feeling worse and asked for the nurse. I asked her to check me again so she did. The doctor came in and reassured me my vitals were ok. After that, because I had dropped another notch down my hole, I asked them to please help me lie on the examining table. Maybe lying down would help? I asked my friend to put on my worship music on my phone knowing that in the past during times of great distress, it helped me focus on my hope and not my problem.

After that my friend had to leave so a family member came to sit with me and as I lay on the table, still descending, I wondered again what was happening to me. By this time I could not move. It was like I was paralyzed and I could feel the heat rushing through my body. My face was flushed and the whole of me was tingly like it had fallen asleep and was just waking up. Like a foot you had sat funny on and was just coming back to life. It terrified me. Why couldn’t I move?

The doctor came back in and said that my lungs were clear and my vitals were normal. What? What do you mean my lungs are clear? I. Can’t. Breathe. She said they would do one more test. An EKG to check my heart but she was pretty sure she knew what was happening to me. I was having what was known as an anxiety attack. My mind raced as I processed that information. Anxiety attack? The doctor asked if this was my first one. Through clenched, chattering teeth while on the verge of hyperventilating I said that I had never had one before. It took every effort for me to speak. It was forced air through my mouth and as I answered her questions the heat in my body rose and the tingling intensified. Were there any big changes in my life? “Yes.” I told her. “We…just…moved…” Was it a good move? She asked. “Yes.” Now the tears slid out of eyes. “I’ve…had…a…few…hard…years. Family…stuff.” I said. Then I was done. I couldn’t say anything else I was so upset.

After the doctor left the room a compassionate young nurse came in to hook me up to check my heart. She was swift and silent. In the dark room my worship music washed over me, speaking hope in a very dark time. He was good. He was my hope. He was my light. The nurse thanked me for the music and how nice it was to come into my room. It was only a few minutes later that the doctor came in to tell me that absolutely everything was normal and this was most definitely an anxiety attack. I was not going to die. I could feel my body begin to relax and the heat started to flow out of my body. The tingling lessened and my breathing became more normal. The red stain that had crawled up my neck and illuminated my face began to fade. Her telling me that my vital signs were normal helped the attack begin to pass and as I lay on my side feeling limp, wiped out like I had just run a marathon, I stared at the wall and wondered what was next.