The past five months have been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. They have been filled with silence and a lack of inspiration. They have been filled with dark moments, confusion, and heartache. They have been filled with an awareness of my lack of control. They have been filled with testing, frustration, and sleeplessness. They have been filled with anxiety.
While the silence has been so tempting, I feel it’s finally time that I write. It’s finally time that I speak through my writing. I will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).
The difficult journey started during my final week in Bangladesh this past July. Before I left for the States, I came down with a nasty virus. Fever. Chills. Full-body rash. Panic.
I didn’t know what was happening to me. Never had a mild illness given me such an upset. However, this time was different. When I read a number of over 100 degrees on my digital thermometer, my body went into some kind of a primal mode that I couldn’t seem to control. Worry filled my mind about worst-case scenarios that could happen while I was overseas. As worry uncontrollably filled my mind, worry uncontrollably filled my body. My head was filled with a dull and achy pressure; my left hand and arm were filled with a tingly sensation. My heart encountered a pace unlike its regular rhythm. Little did I know then that I was experiencing my very first panic attack.
After my overseas trip reached a conclusion, I boarded one aircraft after another to take me back to my idealized home. I figured that home was what I needed. When I was safe in my warm, comfy bed in my bedroom, then I would finally feel safe again. While my reunion with my folks at O’Hare airport was beautiful and all my heart had expected, home did not cure my anxiety. In fact, as the weeks at home passed, my anxiety seemed to worsen into sleepless nights and severe tingling sensations in both arms and a very real pain in my chest.
Four doctor visits, three therapist visits, and one blood test later, I had what seemed like no answers. While my therapist had me take an anxiety inventory to gauge my current situation, I was in disbelief of the results she calculated. There’s no way I was on the “mild end of the scale for severe anxiety.” I ignored the truth and instead insisted that there was something medically wrong with me.
It wasn’t until my parents were about to drop me back off for my third year of college that I hit a new rock bottom. My left arm hurt and tingled, and it wouldn’t stop. My heart was aching with a dull pain that wouldn’t stop. Again, I felt out of control and unable to regain my bearings on my emotions and even my body.
Something had to be done.
Through a series of phone calls, my primary care physician prescribed me some fast-action anxiety medication that would reportedly allow me to sleep at night again. I was scared to take medication, but I knew that was the best option.
Thus began the five month journey that has been sometimes all-encompassing, demanding attention that I never knew how to give before–attention that has been difficult to balance with schoolwork and the everyday upkeep of college life. It has been a rugged journey on a seemingly uncharted path.
However, each day that I choose to be aware of God’s presence and Hand through this journey, I have noted His love for me through those around me. They have been His tangible love in my life when I’ve felt moments of distance from His presence. From my family to professors to bosses to mentors to classmates to friends to acquaintances to strangers to doctors to therapists–I have truly been blessed this semester with individuals who have uplifted me, encouraged me, supported me, and assured me that there is hope in the midst of the darkness of panic and anxiety. I really can’t adequately express how very blessed I’ve been.
Though this semester has easily been the most difficult, emotional, and confusing, I have never before sensed God’s presence in a more intimate, fascinating, and precious way.
This path really isn’t uncharted after all, for I know He is here through the hurting and the healing. And I will give Him glory with each step.