Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Music Monday

Music Monday
OK so it isn't Monday anymore, but we are going to pretend it is. My computer was acting up and got a virus so I couldn't really blog very well. I got one short blog in and that was it.
Today, I am highlighting another song by JJ Heller called “Your Hands”. This was written by Katie Herzig, JJ Heller, and David Heller. You can hear the song on my playlist.    
I really love this song and have from the moment I heard it. It immediately meant a lot to me, because I heard it first when my panic disorder was at its worse. Something about the song resonated with me during that time so I did some research about it. Turns out JJ (along with the 2 others mentioned above) wrote this song out of her struggle with panic attacks. When you are going through panic attacks, your world really does feel like it is shaking, sometimes literally. It is a very scary place to be. You feel like your whole world is in complete chaos with few people to truly understand. Panic is something that is completely irrational; yet it does some very real, concrete things to your body. Yes, it is simply a feeling that you can’t breathe and are being crushed; but, at the same time, your heart rate truly goes up, your breathing increases, you sweat, your blood pressure goes up, things go numb around your body, you visibly shake. It is a difficult place to be-something so irrational causing real reactions in your body. It takes a lot of thought and help from other people to remind you that you are not dying, even though you feel that you might. I will have to say that for many reasons it is the one of the worst things I have ever experienced.
When I found myself in the middle of panic, I remember thinking “how did I get here?” It hit me out of the blue so fast I wasn’t even expecting it. Panic isn’t something that slowly creeps in; one day you are fine and the next day, you are struggling to breathe. The fear of the panic alone begins to take on a life of its own and makes the anxiety even worse over time. As my panic grew to happening so often that I didn’t even want to leave my house anymore, I remember sitting on my kitchen floor just sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t want to be in this place anymore. Yes, it was horrible, but more than anything, I felt like a complete failure. As I sat on the floor crying, my counselor called. I cried, telling him that I was such a failure, that my faith had failed me, that I had failed God. He talked to me (God bless Tim) and eventually had to tell me that he wouldn’t counsel me until I went to get some medicine to stop the cycle. He knew that I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t get off my merry go round without help. I had to stop what was going on in my head, and he felt I needed medicine to help with that. That was hard to hear, but I trusted him with everything and so did the Other Nut. At 6 a.m., I found myself lying in a hospital bed in the ER getting a really big, painful shot just to calm me down. Shortly after that, I left with a prescription for Xanax and numbers to psychiatrists. I went to sleep right when I got home, feeling defeated and scared.
I realized pretty quickly that there was a stigma within the Christian community in regards to mental illness. Somehow having a mental illness meant that you had no trust in God, that somehow your faith was a lesser faith. People all around me were trying to figure out why I had panic disorder-there had to be an explanation, and not just any explanation, but a medical one. Medical problems are easier to swallow for people. Very few people look at taking chemo to hopefully beat cancer as a lack of trust. Very few people look at me like I don’t trust God just because I take a thyroid pill every morning. It’s a thyroid-sometimes they stop working; or its cancer-use all of the medical treatments available. After all, God allowed them to be discovered. I know there are some out there that don’t even believe in that type of medicine, but they are not as common. But when it comes to taking drugs for mental problems, the tide seems to shift. Somehow faith should be all you need to cure the mind of whatever attacks it. But the brain is also an organ just like a thyroid or heart. I felt in some ways that the answer to me having panic disorder couldn’t just be the simple fact that I had it. Now please don’t get me wrong; I know that some of my feelings were coming from my own insecurities, but I also know what I sensed from others was sometimes real. Also, I was looking for the "why" as well, but I was ok with the fact that it didn’t necessarily have to be medical. Maybe it was merely the fact that my brain had wigged out to the point of not being able to process reality. My hormone levels in my brain weren’t working and were completely out of balance. And  please know that I was fully aware that there was a level of distrust going on between God and me. I struggle with trusting Him with all things medical, whether it be me, my kids, or the Other Nut. Nursing school can do that to someone after you learn about every awful disease and problem out there. But what I realized was this-we all struggle in different areas to trust God. We are human, and we have sin. The difference is where it comes out. Some people try to control everything around them. Others exercise all of the time, controlling their outward appearance. And still others might over eat. The bottom line is we all have areas of distrust. It’s just that panic disorder is a lot more noticeable, because you kind of act like a freak when you are having a panic attack.
The funny thing is that when I was lying in that ER bed, my level of trust in God was more than it had been in a long time. I had gotten to a place of complete incompetence and was only able to trust God and who He brought into my life to help me. I literally couldn’t help myself at all. I couldn’t try to manipulate the situation to make it look like I was trusting God, but really I was still trying to control it. I couldn’t even really go to the bathroom by myself at this moment. I was having so much panic, I couldn’t even think. All I could do was lie there and trust; plain, pure and simple trust. When I realized that, I decided to hold my head high and speak of my struggles with panic. I decided to share with others that I had to take 2 pills at that time in my life to work through some things. I decided to testify that God was a big God, and only because of Him, could I continue this journey-even it meant me being on medicine. I decided to trust in the journey that God had me on, resting in it and learning what God wanted me to learn. I decided to embrace my need of medicine, because I could think straight as I was processing the "why" behind my panic. I decided to no longer be afraid of panic, because it couldn’t hurt me anymore.
Three days after I was lying in that ER bed, I was standing up proudly teaching women from the book of Joshua; not proud because of anything I had done. Proud because God was big enough to carry me through even what felt like was the darkest moment of my life. I viewed it as a great testimony to Him, and I was proud to be able to share it. I spoke of my struggle with anxiety and my new need for medicine. I spoke of my journey to uncover my distrust and learn to trust Him in these areas. Not to get to stop the medicine or the panic, but simply because He calls us to trust Him.
I am thankful for the medicine that I took for a while. I am thankful for my journey. I learned so much. I am thankful that I was able to get off of the medicine eventually simply because it is 2 less pills I have to take a day. I am thankful that when someone is struggling because they have to take a “mental pill” that I can relate and hopefully encourage them. I am thankful for music, for JJ Heller’s song that spoke to me so much during that time. For a while, I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t answering my prayer to be free from anxiety. I didn’t want panic to be a part of my life. I remember having it out with God in the garage, because I knew He could take it all away. But He didn’t, because His plan was bigger. He had some things I needed to walk through, to learn, but all along He was making my paths straight. All of the times I felt like I was in complete chaos and my mind wasn’t thinking straight, heaven stood; God stood, because He is always constant, never changing. I still have panic disorder, but with God’s grace and help, I have learned to cope with it. I don’t need medicine anymore. I don’t think it means my faith is stronger than someone who may need medicine-that is just my journey that is unique to me. I have learned to notice panic really early on and sort through the “whys”. I immediately pray for God to show me where I am worrying to the point of panic, and He always does. I am ok that my panic is not completely gone, because one day it will be. One day, He will make all things right again. Until then, I am in His hands and He stands even when I am shaking. I still love this song. When I hear it, I am reminded of how far God has brought me. It makes me smile, because of His love for me. It was a rough journey, but a good journey. God’s good like that.


BY KATIE HERZIG, JJ AND DAVID HELLER

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

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