I Don't Remember Not Having Anxiety - My Anxiety Story: Part 1

"No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?"

"Right"

"I love you"

"I love you too"

"Good Night"

"Good Night"

"No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?"

"Right"

"I love you"

"I love you too"

"Good Night"

"Good Night"

"No thunderstorms..."

This was the routine repeated over and over again during my childhood bedtime. I would continue to repeat the cycle as Mom or Dad walked out of the room, down the hallway, down the stairs (depending on whose house I was at that night), and out of range.

Thunderstorms, bad dreams, and doctor shows were my biggest fears. I was terrified of doctors because of a traumatic hospitilization for Cellulitus when I was 3 years old, and was, therefore, also terrified of doctor shows.

So, at some point I apparently decided that saying "No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?" and having my mom or dad assure me with the word "right" meant that those things would not exist that night.

Totally logical right?... No? Well, that's how anxiety works.

This in and of itself is enough to show there was anxiety brewing in that little mind and heart of mine, but the repetition of it is much more telling.

Why did I need to repeat it over and over again?

Because I could never decide which was the most important part to say last. If I didn't say "I love you" last, and I died, or they died then "I love you" wouldn't have been our last words to each other. If I didn't say "No thunderstorms, no dreams, no doctor shows, right?" last then mabye it wouldn't be true for that night. So it became part of the bed time routine and one of the first coping mechanisms I had.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (basically anxious about all the things, all the time disorder) and panic attacks. I was diagnosed in high school when the panic attacks started, but I do not remember a time in my life prior to that when I wasn't anxious about something.

Fear and anxiety were a big part of my life. They dominated my emotions, and controlled many aspects of my life and my decisions, especially as I got older. But that'll be for Part 2.

The biggest thing that I remember about my anxiety as a child, is that the things I would worry about were so far removed from what I should have been concerned about at that age.

I remember once making my dad prove to me that the smoke alarm worked because I was afraid the house would catch on fire.

I remember being really scared when I went to bed and my dad was in the rec-room in the basement. My bedroom was on the 2nd floor, and the front door was right by the stairs. So that meant that if an intruder came in to get me, he would be entering between where I was and where Dad was. They could get to me to hurt me before Dad would be able to get to me to protect me.

Of course, Dad would have been up those stairs and tackling the "bad guy" long before he could get to me, but my anxious heart didn't know that. And I didn't let my parents know just how anxious my heart was.

I wish I would have told them more about my anxiety sooner. First of all, then they could have gotten me help sooner. But also because I'm learning that talking about it helps. When we keep the monsters in our heads hidden in the darkness, they can only grow. But when we bring them into the light by talking about them, they start to shrink and eventually die.

I had fears, worries, and anxieties as a child, more than probably most kids, but as I got older the anxiety monster got bigger and more intense. Anxiety began to manifest as obsessions late in middle school. 9/11 happened during high school, and that triggered the start of full blown panic attacks.

It got a lot worse before it got better. But it is better. So much better. I still have it, but it doesn't control me anymore. God is healing me, and showing me tools to help me fight the anxiety battle and win. I have peace now a lot of the time, and when the fear comes it's not as intense, doesn't last as long, and isn't paralyzing.

It is my hope that through this series, and some free resources I am working on, you too will be able to find healing, hope, and freedom in the One who offers it to you.