Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Control and the illusion of....

*** Note..... I wrote this a couple weeks ago. It took me a while to get the courage to post it. I was starting to have another episode tonight and I just came back to this post. After reading it over, again, I felt better and decided to just go for it.***

Fact about Jessica......

I am a control freak.

I've talked a little about this, before. It's the reason I took years to tell TG how I felt about him. It's the reason I never get drunk. It's the reason I am so cautious in almost every breath I take.

See, I'm actually known as being a really laid-back person, despite some of my anal tendencies. I'm known as being easy-going..... go-with-the-flow.... relaxed. And, I am.

As long as things are within my realm of control.

In church the past several weeks, we've been doing this awesome sermon series. The main point of them is how to give up control to God. Praise Him, Trust Him, Rest in Him, Give Up Your Burdens to Him..... all about giving up control to God.

Several of my bloggy friends have posted about this, recently. Each time someone posts about it, I can relate........ we give up control, but then take it back.... and it's this continuous cycle.

My thing is that I know I'm not in control. I know that HE is. I get that.... I'm comforted by that.... I like not having the ultimate control.

What I don't appreciate is not having the illusion of control. I want the illusion of being in control.

The reason I'm so easy-going is because I can nod my head, smile, and then do what I want to do. It's very passive-aggressive of me, but it works. As long as I tell myself that I'm doing what I want to do and not just what another person wants me to do, I'm golden.

Lately, though, God's taken all illusions of control away from me.

It really stresses me out.

To the point that I suffer panic and anxiety attacks.

The sentence above..... another fact about Jessica.

I won't go into all the various things that I don't have control over, right now. The point is, my illusions aren't there and it's causing me to literally panic about it.

It all started when my stepdad Mike was diagnosed with cancer. I don't remember the first one, but I remember the first time I noticed that I was having a continuous thing going on inside of me. I was driving home from school (college.... a 45 minute commute) and I could barely breathe. My hands were gripping the steering wheel so tight that I thought it might break in half and tears were forming in my eyes. It lasted for a few minutes and then I was able to get past it.

This continued for a couple of months. These quiet episodes. Then, one day, I had one when my family was around..... full out. Let's just say it wasn't one of my better moments.

Throughout his illness and eventual death, they kept coming. They continued for a full year after his death. I didn't just gain a ton of weight, I was also having multiple attacks a month (sometimes more than one a week). It never stopped me from living.... I still went to school and work. It just made it a little more difficult to get through.

As my family and I started healing, they started subsiding. Over the past five years (he passed away 6 years ago), I've done pretty well. I'll go months and months without having one. Then, I'll get into a certain situation.... a situation where I have no illusion of control.... and I start to have anxiety. If I can get myself out of the situation, it won't escalate. If I can't get myself into a different situation, it's really difficult to keep the panic internal. Most of the time, I can.

Lately, like I said, the illusions of control aren't there. So, my panic and anxiety is coming back, closer and closer. Just tonight, I was sitting.... watching TV.... and something hit me. All of a sudden, I was having trouble breathing and my hands were itching to squeeze something.... I'm sure everyone is different, but the squeezing is an external sign for me. If my mom is paying attention and sees that I'm clenching or wringing my hands, she'll immediately ask me if I'm OK.

I sat there for about ten minutes to see if I could get it to go away. Then, I went to the kitchen and poured myself a 1/4 of a glass of wine. Just enough to calm me because I was getting to the point where it was beyond my control (pun only slightly intended). Yes, it's a slight form of self-medication..... once I get to a certain point, I need something to take the edge off or I'll escalate to full meltdown. It's either a pill or a bit of alcohol. My doctor knows this and has advised me to know my limits. The good news is that I don't get drunk........ I'm a control freak, remember.

After my 1/4 glass, I was calm enough to pick up the computer and start typing. I don't know if I'm the only person that goes through this or if there are others out there. I probably sound like a complete nutcase.

The point is that once I was able to calm down, I was able to realize why I'm loving the sermon series so much. I completely relate to it. It's an exercise for me to practice giving up my burdens to God. I'm glad that I'm getting some direction for it.

Giving up full control is probably the hardest thing in the world, for me. Including my weight-loss issues. God is really pressing me right now to just. give. it. up.


Gina said...

Been there. Used to have panic attacks on a regular basis. The last time I had one was when my parents' divorce hit me...hard...on the way to work. Thank God we have counselors at my work. It's an added bonus, lol. But seriously, I get it. Going to cognitive-behavioral therapy helped me so much. I hope you find what you need to get you through it.

Justine said...

Confession: I have anxiety attacks. A lot.

I've been debating posting about this for a loooong time, and I'm not sure I'm ready to have it all over my blog just yet, because it's a big long story, but you have inspired me to at least *try* and take the leap soon.

I don't really have anything that works for me, so I can't really give you any advice, but know that you're not alone, friend. Praying for you.

PaigeR530 said...

Love this. Proud of you for making the efforts to learn what helps you get through those panic attacks, and then share them with us to those of us that aren't as brave. I'm sure you've taught someone tonight a little bit about themselves, and helped them to learn with coping with a panic attack. Hugs!

Marianne said...

I don't really have anything to say, other than, "I get it."

I don't really have panic attacks like you described, but I definitely have anxiety issues. Ahem, my post about men yesterday exemplified that ;)

Our song should be "Soul Sister."

Love ya girl!

Brittany Ann said...

You are not alone! I've struggled with anxiety attacks since a teenager! I always joke about being controlling on my blog, but honestly, it is a serious thing for me, too. I struggle with it a lot.

I have good days and bad.

I'm praying for you, hun. No shame in this, trust me!

Melissa said...

I've only had 1 panic attack...it was really incredibly scary. I didn't even know it was a panic attack until someone told me.

I've never been drunk either - i am not a control freak at all. I just never liked alcohol & didn't drink it. Now i do like it, but not enough of it to get me drunk! I do drink 1/4 glass of wine sometimes when i'm stressed. Or depressed. I get that. And i don't think anything is wrong w/ it. Really.

But that is awesome that you are getting a lot from the sermon series! I know God will help you w/ the control issue & the panic attacks.


Adie said...

I LOVED this post and your bravery to post it. I have panic attacks too and it is because I don't feel or as you stated have the illusion of control. And than I get in this nasty cycle of being totally insane about the things I can control and drive everyone crazy. I was having some serious issues and finally had to go get some help via my doctor and a therapist. I am feeling so much better these days but I really struggle in turning things over to the Lord. I go through the motions and say I am doing it and than I catch myself still trying to obsess about it. Anyhow, like I said, totally love this post!!

kEllEy_G said...

Thanks for sharing this link with me, Jess. Can totally relate! I'm so thankful I'm not alone. <3