I once had a couple of people (who most likely were well meaning) tell me the anxiety I had, the worry, the exhaustion, the muscle aches, the overall body weakness – everything I had – was in my head and due to my doing the Christian thing all wrong. I didn’t pray enough. I didn’t pray right. I didn’t rebuke right. I didn’t “take authority” over the demons attacking me right.
So, listen, I know that part of the anxiety I deal with is ‘in my head’ but guess what – the anxiety I deal with is also in my uterus. It’s hormone related. How do I know this? Because one week out of the month I barely have anxiety, I’m not exhausted, my muscles don’t hurt and I don’t feel weak all over. The rest of the month I’m a total mess. It’s definitely a pattern and definitely follows a “cycle”, like a menstrual cycle – get it?
What stinks more than hitting this stupid thing called perimenopause early is that my former friends didn’t “get it” so they dropped me in the darkest times in my life – the time I thought I was mentally ill but it turns out part of my “mental illness” is driven by drastically dropping hormones.
For two weeks out of the month, which, yes, means almost the entire month, I am weak, I have brain fog, my muscles hurt, I’m severely dizzy, I have heart palpitations, my legs feel heavy, my skin feels weird and my brain tells me I’m going to die at any moment or my family is going to be taken away in the blink of an eye. I also feel like I can’t eat. I feel like I have morning sickness when I don’t. It’s a nightmare and I become agoraphobic. Leaving the house is a battle.
Every day is a constant mental battle. During those weeks I am a shell of who I used to be. I am afraid to take photography jobs because I don’t want to pass out or have a low blood sugar moment. I’m afraid to take my children anywhere. I’m afraid to live my life and many days I just don’t. I don’t do what I want to do because I know one of the weird physical symptoms I have is going to limit me. I’m afraid even when I know I shouldn’t be afraid.
But this week? This is a good week.
This week I got up without anxiety gnawing at my gut. This week I went to an anniversary dinner with my husband and I didn’t think I was going to pass out at the restaurant. This week I took my dog to the vet with my kids and didn’t think I couldn’t breathe or I’d pass out or my legs wouldn’t be able to hold me up.
I don’t understand why I have these symptoms one week and not another. I am almost certain it’s a hormone thing because of some other signs, which I will not share here (I know you’re thankful for that!). I am also almost certain it’s a hormone thing because I’ve met women online who are having the same symptoms
“Go to a doctor!” a family member likes to tell me, (which is perfectly fine advice, don’t get me wrong.)
I did. The doctor looked at me and said: “You’re too young for that..see you in six months.” So right now I am on my own to figure it all out and I am finding things that are helping, some days anyhow, so for that, I’m grateful, but on the days I can’t seem to control it all, I wish I had people in my life, beyond my mom, who had taken the time to understand instead of simply dismissing me as “not enough.”
While I don’t know what exactly causes the hormonal rises and falls and haven’t yet pinpointed a definitive way to manage the swings, what I do know is the worst thing that has happened to me is being told it’s all in my head and for that reason I’m not worth being talked to, being associated with, having compassion for.
If I had cancer, maybe I would have been treated differently , and not like I was less than for battling these physical symptoms along with the mental. If I had a heart issue, maybe I would have been treated differently and not looked down on. I don’t know and I don’t want to find out.
But because I am a Christian and I have anxiety that is not all from Satan and not all from me being “weak and faithless” I am not worth the time of many other so-called Christians.
If you are a Christian and you have anxiety – don’t let anyone tell you that it’s because you’re not a good enough Christian. Don’t let them tell you that you don’t pray enough, you’re not faithful enough, you don’t rebuke enough. Some of those things may be true, at times, but they aren’t always true. Sometimes there is something physical going on in your body creating these symptoms.
Trust in God to walk you through the physical and the mental trials facing you and tune out the Christians, some of them well-meaning, who are telling you that you are experiencing them because you are doing something wrong. Maybe you do need to pray more, read your Bible more or tell the spirits of infirmity and anxiety and depression to get away from you, but your physical ailments should never be referred to as a punishment from God.
Maybe you are doing something right by holding on to God as he leads you down a difficult, challenging, heartbreaking path that will eventually prosper you, not harm you.