When Things are Overwhelming: My Story of Panic Attacks, Meds, and the Man 👆🏻

I don’t know what I would have done without that pill last night. 💊

Lorazepam.

⦶ I was actually too afraid to take one for the longest time. That’s the nature of the beast I guess. Anxiety seems to put you in hyper-vigilance mode and even the things meant to help you can seem like the enemy.

This magic pill has saved my butt a few times. Last night too. Grateful.

⦶ Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an either-or sitch. When I’ve called out to God He has helped in some way. Even in the midst of this last panic attack I could sense His presence. Sometimes He’s seemingly absent so it’s simply by faith that I know He’s there. Then there’s times, the best of times, when He’s so spiritually tangible I can almost feel Him. Last night I sensed Him in the form of my son’s powerful prayers and the calming presence of my husband. Regardless, He never leaves us. There’s a comfort in that even when going through the deepest, darkest trials.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

— Hebrews 13:5

⦶ Have you ever felt you weren’t going to make it?

Me at 1:00 am — “I need an ambulance!! Stat!! I’m having a heart attack!!!”

⦶ There’s been times when I’ve been ill and after crying out to God my symptoms suddenly disappear and peace comes upon me—this is the power and love of my God. He’s truly good! Do you know Him?

⦶ I wish it was always that way, that easy, but it’s not. I mean, He remains good but symptoms don’t always just disappear at the drop of a hat, in fact, more often than not they persist! My prayers and the prayers of others don’t always bring immediate healing and unicorns and rainbows. And last night was one of those times. I thought I was going to die.

Panic Attacks:

⦶ Panic attacks are one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. I’ve landed in the ER with electrodes hooked up to me because of them. I’ve suffered in silence for decades. They’re literally the worst. They’re like nonsensical terrorists of the mind and body that attack when you’re least expecting it. They especially don’t make sense when they wake you from peaceful slumber and leave you physically unable to breath or function properly. This seems to happen more when you’re subconsciously overwhelmed. In the quiet time, when you’re asleep, the body, brain and mind have time to catch up to one another. And then BAM. There it goes..

Symptoms:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

⦶ My worst symptom is the racing, pounding heart rate with a hint of thoughts of impending doom—a mental health cocktail mix I hate to the core. So what’s up?

Being Overwhelmed:

⦶ This has definitely been a year for feeling overwhelmed. First with COVID, lockdowns, separation from friends and family, and then for some of us loss or gain of work, other life transitions, and illness. All of these can just catch up to a person, like me, and come out in the quiet times. Pair that with the fact that feeling easily overwhelmed seems to go hand in hand with anxiety and you have a cycle that needs to be broken. Let me just say there’s NO condemnation in this. Here me again if you suffer like me. There’s. No. Condemnation. We are all doing the best we can with what we have and sometimes our brains and bodies are just plain old exhausted and/or lacking a balance of necessary chemicals. Don’t suffer in silence. Tell someone. Get help. And don’t add to the stigma.

There’s. No. Condemnation.

⦶ I haven’t always been able to keep it real in the past. Or so I thought. In my last season, being in formal Christian ministry in the charismatic church was a great honour and blessing but also difficult in many ways.

⦶ Could I really be me? I mean, what would people think if they knew one of their supposedly fearless leaders that believed God healed and even prayed for others and saw them healed, had to still take some psychiatric meds to keep sane? Simply put, whether by my own doing or the unspoken one that comes with the territory, it was a battle I couldn’t do anymore. Be real. Be open. Be you. There’s more power in authenticity then there is in hiding and that’s when real help and real ministry can happen.

⦶ God can work through really difficult situations. I’ve seen it time and time again making me think of that scripture about His ways and thoughts being different than ours. Now THAT’S so the truth, isn’t it?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

—Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

⦶ Last night I had been in research mode. With an upcoming rush hysterectomy in a week and half, I don’t feel prepared for it. To be honest, I don’t feel prepared for the trip, for the COVID risks, for the surgery, for the meds, for the downtime, for the possible complications, for homeschooling afterwards, for the results of my pathology, for anything. I tried to keep away from the support groups that really just freak a person out more than anything (which was a good choice but not completely helpful). After putting the research away and nodding off into dreamland it still happened. My heart kicked into a 200 bpm nightmare jolting me out of bed and down the stairs to some sort of relief that didn’t exist. Reality began to disappear before me. My limbs went numb and I began to shake and lose control. The storm was upon me again. I was definitely overwhelmed.

Have your felt overwhelmed this past year? You’re not alone! Take a time out. Rest. Read. Get off social media. Exercise. Laugh. Play. Pray. Breathe deep. Take care of you.

How to Get Out of a Panic Attack:

⦶ You can find lots of techniques and theories for getting rid of panic attacks on the internet so I won’t repeat them all here. But these are honestly the only ones that have helped me personally over the decades. None are foolproof and sometimes you have to try and try again, mix and match, and press on. NOTE: the key is to ask your Doctor first. I am NOT a medical professional, this is just what I do or have done in the past.

  • Take a fast-acting anti-anxiety med like Lorazepam (be cautious – ask your doctor first and don’t take if you are prone to addictions)
  • Take antidepressants (longer term solution)
  • Move. Run. Walk. Pace.
  • Take a deep breath or 2 or 200 in cold fresh air
  • Pray and have others pray for you
  • Splash cold water on your face
  • Bear down (can help with racing heart)
  • Eat some protein and have a drink of juice
  • Get a distraction – tv, movie, have another person talk to you
  • Touch something. Hard.
  • Do deep breathing – inhale slow, hold, exhale slow
  • See your doctor and/or therapist

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6-7

⦶ Do you suffer from panic attacks? What has helped you? Will you try any of the above pointers? I’m rooting for you in this strange time of life and would love to keep you in my prayers. Send me a message or comment below! If you’re suffering please seek professional help. I’m here with you giving you a virtual hug tonight. We’ve got this!! He’s got us!!

Tiffany x

Five Little Things

Sometimes we just need to breathe.

♡ I haven’t been myself this week, have you? There’s so much going on in the world and, if you’re at all sensitive like me, you feel it. Boy, do you feel it.

♡ Let’s just take a moment to enjoy 5 little things…

1. yes! a cup of hot cocoa and fresh-smelling linens. what’s your favorite comfort drink? go grab one! I’ll wait for you.
2. did someone say “beach”? picture yourself here with the sound of the surf and the warmth of the sand beneath your toes. How about a great read as you swing in the warm tropical sun? What’s one book you’ve been meaning to read? Get it – Kindle has some great options!
3. this is me not caring about the elections and covid. ok that’s a lie, but let’s just let it go. maybe you’ve done your praying. you’ve refreshed the news on your phone for the millionth time. now, I double-dog-dare you to take your socks and shoes off and go run in the grass for a minute. go!
4. here’s a cute puppy for you. ugh, so sweet! *boop, boop*
5. prefer kitties? sorry, here ya go.

♡ Don’t forget to breathe deep, take lots of time to relax, unplug, and care for your physical health. Getting good nutrition, sleep, and fresh air/exercise matters. (Yes, I’m preaching to myself). I’m also a huge fan of reading the Bible and prayer. I found a new prayer guide (well, actually it’s very old but new to me) called the Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes we just don’t know what to pray and this is super helpful. Here’s a Collect for peace in the midst of the storm. Much love, friend. ♡

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom:  Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (BCP 2019)

Tiffany x

A Fence With a Gate

Boundaries. 🛑

⊗ Healthy boundaries. God is teaching me lately. How ironic though. I remember a time when I was a newly saved and zealous Christian back in a charismatic church in Canmore, Alberta. We had a good old book burning. For real. You know, the kind where you dig up all the stuff you were reading in your old life and just light ‘er up, bonfire-style? Well, during this fiery explosion of my new-found faith, I started grabbing other people’s “maybe-keep” piles. It was during this moment of passion that I clearly remember burning a book my friend owned on boundaries. “Too pop-culture-pseudo-Christian-psychology garbage,” I thought. Man, maybe I should have read it before I burnt it.

⊗ Boundaries. So hard to have yet so necessary. Why is it that nice people think having them is so mean. Us ‘nice guys’ think, “doesn’t a boundary keep people out and say I’m more important than you?” And then there’s the issue of being a person who follows Jesus. In Christianity, aren’t we taught the opposite? I mean how did Christ have boundaries? In this day of COVID-19, the big argument many have had against mask usage is that Jesus touched the lepers. Where’s the boundaries in that?

Doesn’t a boundary keep people out and say I’m more important than you?

⊗ Let’s dig into the Word a bit. Remember when Jesus said, “you stay here while I go pray”? He didn’t allow anyone to come with Him. He loved them but he said, you stay here. I have a boundary. I need this time alone with My Father.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” – Matthew 26:36

⊗ Even when people needed Him, he would withdraw when He knew He had to. He could have stuck around and taught and healed more sick people but He didn’t.

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. – Luke 5:15-16

⊗ I’ve had a hard time setting healthy boundaries, have you? Maybe you let people walk all over you like a “door-mat” and see that as being a loving servant. Or maybe you’ve burnt yourself out so much for the sake of others that you now can’t do what the Lord wants you to. You are not being selfish for setting healthy boundaries. Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30).

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Dr. Brene Brown

⊗ I had difficulty making some clear boundaries the other day. I just knew in that moment that I had to call one of my good friends who always seems to know just what to say. And just as expected, she did. Do you have a friend who doesn’t abandon you even in your darkest times? Gives wise advice? Prays for you? Don’t lose them. These friends are definitely hard to come by in this day of backstabbing and betrayal, “leveling up”, ditching, and the popularity-gaining “cancel culture”.

A person of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

⊗ My friend’s advice was centered around the analogy of yards, fences, gates, and walls. By the way, many teach on boundaries, such as Dr. Henry Cloud (sorry Henry, yours was the aforementioned book I burnt and never read). This teaching may come from there, I don’t know, but I do know that the Word guides us in all truth and will give you the revelation you need on anything, including relationships.

⊗ So here’s the analogy. Once upon a time, there was a woman with children who lived in a house with a yard. The woman’s children loved to play outside in their yard. Rightly so. It was a beautiful, lush yard with green carpet-like grass and lots of trees to climb and swing from. The problem was that the woman’s next-door-neighbor had a dog, and that dog loved to come over to her yard and poop in it. That’s right, poop. Anytime the woman’s children went out to play in their yard, they would get this dog’s poop all over themselves. Not impressive and not fun.

⊗ So the woman decided to put up a fence. The fence was built around her own property with a clearly marked gate for her neighbor to use. The fence allowed her children to play freely and happily without getting dog poop on themselves. The problem was, the neighbor didn’t like it. And just like this woman, as soon as we set clear boundaries, there will be people in life who don’t like it. The truth is, we often don’t set boundaries because we are worried what people will think of us. Set them anyway. Jesus didn’t let others manipulate, guilt-trip, bait, or use entitlement against Him.

As soon as you set clear boundaries, there will likely be people in your life who don’t like it. We often don’t set boundaries because we are worried what people will think of us. Set them anyway. Jesus didn’t let others manipulate, guilt-trip, bait, or use entitlement against Him.

  • From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” – Matthew 16:21-23
  • While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:46-50

⊗ So the dog-owning neighbor, in his anger, rang the woman’s doorbell and said, “How dare you put up a fence around your yard? My dog loved coming into your yard and now he can’t anymore!” The woman calmly replied, “I have not put up a wall to keep you out. There is a clearly marked gate in the fence for you and your dog to enter through. That being said, if you decide to use the gate to visit me, you must bring a doggy bag with you to clean up your dog mess before you leave. “Well, the nerve!” huffed the man as he stomped off towards his home.

⊗ After hearing this analogy, I put a few things together. I realized that I hadn’t been great at setting clear boundaries. Maybe I expected people to just know them without being assertive enough to say what they were. Really, I was afraid of rejection. I also realized I had been a person that went from having a wide-open yard without a fence and gate to being an immediate wall constructor. “Here, poop all over my yard until I go absolutely crazy and build a wall so you can’t ever get in again.” Nope, not healthy.

“Here, poop all over my yard until I go absolutely crazy and build a wall so you can’t ever get in again.”

⊗ Ask God where you’re at with having healthy boundaries in your relationships. Maybe you’re the ‘wide-open-yard-person’ or the ’50-foot-wall-builder’. Or maybe you’re the ‘dog-owning-neighbor’? (Oh man, that’s the hardest one to confess to). Be honest with yourself and let Him be honest with you. Taking on the yoke of Christ and knowing I have the freedom and ability to set clear and healthy boundaries for myself has been life-changing and I’m sure it will be for you too. My advice? Do it. Follow Christ in all things. Keep digging into the Word – it’s really all we need and it guides us in all truth. Pray. Ask God for His wisdom and strength to do what’s right for your life. And keep your wise friends close.

⊗ Today above all days may be extra stressful for you. There’s election results and opinions abounding, skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, and greater and greater divisions happening amongst friends. Know that it’s okay to turn off your TV and radio. In fact I suggest it. It’s okay to stop scrolling on social media. It’s also ok to unfollow and unfriend, to snooze and “lose”. I am. Put up a fence with a gate. Go outside and enjoy the warm weather today. May the peace of Christ rest upon you today and always. And me too.

Tiffany x