My entire life I’ve been competitive. The slightest suggestion of a race, game, bet, challenge, or test and my pupils constrict, my heart races, and my fight or flight response is on high alert. This has something to do with a hormone called serotonin and its relationship with our brain to prompt our fight or flight response.
Believe it or not, even as I start to type this post, my pulse is quickening and a slight knot begins to form in my stomach. My palms perspire ever so slightly and I can tell the bottoms of my feet are damp. Apparently, no one told my brain that writing a blog post for thousands of women isn’t akin to a 5K.
Learning to live with a heart bent toward anxiety has been a challenge, but I pray that testifying to the small victories in my life will encourage someone else who may find herself struggling similarly.
From the time a girl reaches puberty until about the age of 50, she is twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man. Anxiety disorders also occur earlier in women than in men.
Differences in brain chemistry may account for at least part of these differences. The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is activated more readily in women and stays activated longer than men, partly as a result of the action of estrogen and progesterone. ∼ Anxiety and Depression Association of America
So there you have it, ladies. The cards are not dealt in our favor; but that doesn’t mean we have to live in shackles. Anxiety doesn’t have to dictate who we are or how we ultimately process life.
My Experience with Anxiety
My darkest moment dealing with anxiety was about five years ago. I had slowly become aware that dealing with anxiety was something I would have to confront in my life, but up to that point it was managed easily with small strategies. Deep breathing. Correct thinking. A brisk walk. Calling my husband or a friend. Belting out a favorite song and dancing with the kids. I could sense when my anxiety was peaking, and somehow, just knowing it was there made it worse.
However, the day my anxiety took its toll left me barely unable to leave my bedroom. It had a paralyzing grip on my emotions and controlled my thoughts. Thankfully, I had my wits about me enough to still properly care for my kids, but it was at this point I realized I had to “deal” with this issue in a more drastic fashion. Wishing it away wasn’t going to work, and I wanted desperately to “be there” for my husband and kids in a way I knew was slipping away from me.
Seeking Medical Help
After a visit with my doctor, I was relieved to realize I wasn’t alone. Our busy, fast paced world is apparently filled with anxious mamas. My doctor talked to me rationally about what was probably happening chemically in my brain as well as how to manage my anxiety when it started to get the best of me. She did in fact prescribe a medication for me that has helped tremendously. I take approximately the same dosage as most little old ladies in nursing homes, but it has helped my brain balance in a way that I now realize I couldn’t have contrived on my own. I don’t claim to be a medical expert on brain chemistry, but I can only imagine that our tiger-striped baby bellies aren’t the only body parts needing some attention after childbirth. I know my brain needed a little TLC.
Although the 50mg of help in a capsule has made a big difference in my life, I have to acknowledge that my biggest help has truly come from my Creator. He has in fact made this vessel and has been most able to meet my needs when I have chosen to ask Him to take over. I believe a part of that intervention came in the form of a very capable doctor, but I also believe He has ministered to my spirit in ways that can’t be found in a bottle.
Choosing to deliberately seek the face of God has been most beneficial in my battle with anxiety. Asking Him to sweetly soothe my anxious heart has delivered delightful results. Knowing He doesn’t mind hearing about my struggles and doubts, my fears and insecurities, my failures and worries, has brought peace to the storm in my mind. He has met me where I am, and at times that place has been crippling.
Sweet momma, I pray that today if you have an anxious heart, you don’t waste another minute living in the clutches of its snare. I pray you have the courage to step out of your struggle, one foot in front of the other, and seek help.