Nov 19, 2011
I've been deep in anxiety all my life. Major depression, bi-polar, GAD, social phobia, some OCD. I've read dozens of self-help books, had almost 1,000 hours of therapy over the last thirty years, tried more than 19 different meds (took some of them for many years and have had all the side effect illnesses that come with them, including so many things too numerous to name that I'm dreadfully afraid may be permanent). For me, I can't remember 98% of the things I learned when I need them, but if you want to check them out try these books: Hope and Help For Your Nerves, The Instinct To Heal, and Living Well With Anxiety (What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You... That You Need To Know). I could have saved myself a lot of time, money, health, and heartbreak, as well as my career, I think, if I had trusted Jesus and started living like it. After my fourth hospitalization (countless breakdowns) I finally found a Bible-teaching, Christ-centered (same thing) church and a Christian LPC (licensed counselor), and these are teaching me what no amount of drugs or therapy ever did... That trusting God and believing in Jesus - what He did for me, everything the Bible says God is doing for me, and that how I live really makes a difference - is not only the first REAL peace I've had, it keeps getting better as I learn more and change my thinking to accept who God says I am in the Bible. I wish I could write it all here, it's so simple but it takes a lot of words to say. Pray, tell God you're willing to accept His provision for you, then find out how (it's two different things... to know Jesus and to LIVE like you know Jesus), check out churches until you find one that is non-condemning, Jesus-loving, Bible-carrying, evangelical... Ask God to lead you to one - it will feel warm and loving, they won't be any nosier than you ask them to be in order to help you... Yes, ASK for help - call the pastors, tell them as little or as much as you want to about your situation, visit on Sunday, ask for pastoral counseling (if you're a female no sensible pastor will meet with you alone), get referral to a Christ-centered counselor or therapist (the work will be all about who you are in Christ, at least at first). Get involved in Bible-study groups, get to know PRACTICING Christian members (the pastor will help you identify them). I'm almost off Xanax and have the first hope worth mentioning about what the rest of my life is going to feel like (it's way more than that, but you'd probably not believe me if I tried to tell you here.
I majored in nutrition at college, have researched it extensively online, bought many books about it, and have spent many thousands of dollars on healthfoods, supplements, and superfoods. I've spent a fortune on alternative health practitioners, everything from chiropractors to massage therapists to acupuncturists. I'm not knocking any of that, I wish I still had the money to do it more. What I am saying is that none of that helped my anxiety enough to save my health (or, almost, my life). I lost everything to anxiety... Not once, but at least four times... Everything. I have something now that can't be taken away from me. I had it briefly 25 years ago, but I let a problem with one church make me leary of trusting another. I went to, even belonged to quite a number of churches as my anxiety drove me out of jobs and relationships and I tried moving to quieter and quieter places in search of serenity. I believe, now, that once I recover more of my physical health and get more grounded in the practical teaching needed to live a Christian life (as opposed to just calling myself Christian and going through the motions) that my surroundings won't matter to my peace. There's power in the name of Jesus... Sounds so ridiculously trite, and even silly (I hope I figure out another way to say it, but even the Bible says it sounds like foolishness to those who don't understand), until you start to live it... Then it's hard to describe but very good. If you're not experiencing it in your church life check with your pastor about Christ-centered counseling... Or find a better church.
Christian radio helps A LOT. My ideal station would be mostly bible study and sermons by the likes of Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Chip Ingram, Dennis Rainy (sp?), James Dobson, Adrian Rogers, Moody Bible Institute, and such, with some music (both contemporary and classic Gospel). But ideals are hard to come by, and I live in the boonies, so I got a radio with pre-sets and switch between the three Christian stations I can pick up (one of them actually pre-empts Christian programs with football games from a nearby "Christian" college... Grrrr!).
You can also get some of them online. Off the to of my head I know of Family Life (there are apparently several called this... the one I'm most familiar with is www.flr.org) and His Radio. You can also go to the websites of specific ministries and get their daily broadcasts on line.
But, as David Jeremiah said last night, it's no substitute for church. And as I heard a Christian comedian say one time, you may not like everything about church, but it's a lot easier to fix a boat you're in than one you're treading water outside of. Also, the ember taken from the fire and set off by itself soon cools and dies out, but it comes back to life when returned to the fellowship of other burning embers.
Interesting note to end... Just writing this resulted in trembling, difficulty breathing, accelerated thought, etc. I was about to reluctantly reach for the Xanax when a thought occurred to me... I asked Jesus... God, to remind me what I can do "instead" and I remembered some of the relaxation techniques I've been taught but usually can't remember! Amazing! :)