1/15/15

Our "weird" year

2014. What a weird year. Luke and I have reflected over the year many times, trying to come up with a word for it....and the only thing we can come up with is weird. It was just weird.

We can't say it was bad because good things happened. Our family grew when we added our beautiful baby girl to our lives. We had friendships grow, we were able to minister to others, and our marriage grew as we learned to cling to one another and God. But it was weird.

Oddly enough, and maybe what makes it a little "weird" is that although much of the year seemed wrapped in confusion and frustration we had a sense of peace from the Lord that we were where we needed to be. That He was working and would see us through. He always sees us through.

I've mentioned that I love going into the new year because of the "reset" feeling that you feel at the beginning of a new year. However going into 2014 we never felt that reset or refreshing feeling. We had so much weighing on us. My pregnancy with placenta previa and the uneasiness and questions that came from that was a big thing. Plus, I was going to the hospital twice a week to be monitored while still visiting my regular doctor and specialist. It was a lot of doctor appointments.

However the biggest thing going into 2014 that was affecting us involved my husband. Beginning in the middle of 2013 Luke suddenly began experiencing what we now know were panic attacks. It came out of left field as he is typically a calm, laid back person, but these panic attacks came on fast and strong.

Never having experienced anything of this nature both of us were at a loss as to what to do. Luke began to attack it physically, through diet, exercise, sleep, etc. We thought if he simply changed one thing in his life that they would go away.

If you've ever had experience with true panic attacks or know someone who has you know that this is not the case. Simply changing one thing in your life does not make them go away. We would learn this as the attacks continued to get worse. On the eve of 2014 Luke experienced one of his worst panic attacks to date and it was at that time when we realized that we were dealing with something serious and potentially debilitating.

At that point it was the scariest thing I had ever gone through. You don't realize how much you depend on somebody to be your rock and your strength until you see them at their weakest moment. It was a real and tangible reminder that my strength can ONLY come from the Lord. My husband is my partner and my helper through life but I cannot depend on him for my daily strength, I have to get that from the Lord.

Through all of this Luke and I kept it mostly confidential. We didn't tell our families for fear of worrying them and only told a few close friends who we asked to be praying for us. I remember one friend coming over and praying over me and our house and I cry every time of think of it. We are not called to do this life alone, we are called to share our lives with others, the times of rejoicing and goodness, the times of trouble and panic. It is a humbling experience to feel completely helpless and to know that your brothers and sisters in Christ are standing with you. How thankful I still am for that.

For Luke, through all of this there was shame in the sudden onset of panic attacks. He felt weak as a man and as the leader of our home, and as a pastor and leader in the church. He felt he should be stronger than this. It was during the time of those thoughts that he felt the Lord prompting him to share his struggles with others. It was his pride that had stopped him from sharing and this was now a way in which God was breaking his pride.

In March, Anniston was born and for various other reasons (another story for another day) March became our hardest month of the year. We had so much going on, plus a brand new baby in the house and my husband was not himself. It was hard. I so desperately wanted my husband to act like himself, to feel like himself. It was a helpless feeling to watch him deal with these attacks that slowly started to consume our lives. He hated it so much and I hated it for him. For the entire first part of the year Luke was a completely different person. There were times I would get a glimpse of him but for the majority of the time he was living on edge, a slave to panic attacks.

I did so much research online trying to find a "cure" for him. Reading how a person should behave when dealing with a person experiencing a panic attack. I wanted to help my husband, I wanted him to be  himself again. I read a blog (that I now can't find or I would reference) but in it the author explained how he felt that panic attacks were threefold; mental, physical and spiritual and I completely agree. We were fighting a battle in so many ways.

Little by little we began sharing what Luke was going through with others. He told leaders at his work, leaders at our church, his worship team that he leads every Sunday, family, close friends....and all of it was met with nothing but support and love.

We truly believe it to be an act of obedience. God wanted Luke to share and so he did. The attacks continued on for a year, sometimes mild and sometimes very strong, interrupting our entire lives. But through it all we had people praying for us, and we were attacking it with God's word.

Going into the summer Luke confided in a friend who is also a doctor, this was the beginning of the steps to what we now hope and pray was and is the end. After seeking counsel Luke went on an anxiety medication that has helped him tremendously. Something was off and it needed to be fixed. Luke had been holding off taking medicine because he didn't want to seem "weak". But through the counsel he received he felt led to do this. By doing this it was as if he let go of something he was holding onto. Before he had been trying to take care of it all by himself, but little by little he was releasing it to the Lord, first by sharing with others, and so on until the final step of taking the medication. We fully believe that God has used the medicine to help Luke through this battle.

It feels extremely weird and vulnerable to share all of this information. But we have said time and time again that we want to write it all out. Of course there is a lot not written out, not every detail of this journey has to be shared but we wanted to share pieces of it. In going through this we realized it's something that a lot of people don't talk about, especially in the church.

Looking back we realize that it was silly to feel shameful about it, this was a real experience, one that we can hopefully use to help others or counsel others who have dealt with or are dealing with the same scenario.

We are by NO means experts in this, and we still have no clue why it happened. Even still, there are days when Luke continues to battle anxiety, but each day brings a little more healing at a time.  It's like water dripping onto the ground, drop by drop, he is slowly taking back his life. But we do know that through it we sought God, we asked Him to use it for whatever purpose. And for whatever reason we felt it was important to share.

Going through this brought us closer to the Lord and to one another. We learned so much through it and we are still learning things. More than anything we are thankful for our health and thankful that we are able to use our experiences through this life to glorify the Lord and use them to help and encourage others however that may be.




15 comments:

  1. Hoping Luke continues to make good progress. My dear friend suffered from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks which came on suddenly. With a mixture of therapy, relaxation techniques and medication she had improved tremendously! After about a year and half she isn't requiring medication any longer and has learned to be aware when something is beginning and uses techniques to gain control again. Good luck and keep pushing forward!

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  2. Praying for yall and thanks for sharing all thats gone on. Not an easy thing to do, but I know the Lord will use it and use yalls testimony to help others! Love and blessings!

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  3. I can completely relate. My husband has a couple of years of intense anxiety that eventually required medication, and we felt that shame too...but why?? He was so hesitant to be medicated, but it helped so much and it was not a long-term thing. He wtill struggles occasionally but for the most part the man I married is "back" and we are closer than before, having walked through it together.

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  4. My mother and sister both battle severe anxiety and depression. It was very debillitating for my mother when she was raising children but her openness with this disease has helped my sister take care of herself. Bless you both for being open and sharing your journey. it may help someone else suffering from similar issue. Hard to believe Annie will be a year soon! (her and my daughter are close in age)

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  5. I also battle anxiety and got put on celexa last year. My doctor told me I wouldn't need it forever and she was right. I stopped taking it daily after about 6 months and now take a very small dosage of Xanax whenever I feel it coming on or I go into something knowing it will make me anxious. So many people have anxiety and not a lot of people talk about it but he is far from alone on this one. It really does help to have people praying and to know what is going on in case it happens in their presence. I have truly felt that being open about it has helped a lot. I know he will overcome this!

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  6. I don't think I've every commented on your blog before, I'm just a grandma who found you from Kelly's blog. :) I just feel for y'all having to deal with this. I've experienced panic attacks and had to go on medication (Zoloft) for awhile and my daughter has experienced them to the point they have been debilitating and she has three kids to take care of. I can imagine how weak this made Luke feel and I'm so glad he agreed to take medication. Thanks for sharing this, so many people deal with this and don't want to admit it. Blessings on your family!

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  7. I experienced the exact same thing as Luke this year. In July I needed a steroid shot (for shingles! At age 32!) and the shot brought on a full-on panic attack within 24 hours. It was terrifying. I think what is so frightening is that you feel like you have no control and fear that it will happen again...and then the fear only worsens it! I kept saying to my husband, I trust God with the plan for my life and I know that he will take care of me, but it was truly a physical thing. I could describe it as no different than someone who had like a stomach issue and it would come on out of nowhere. I also researched natural things and vitamins that can help and came across "Anxiety Free". It's all natural and I got in on drugstore.com and it came with amazing reviews. Maybe it's a placebo affect, but I truly feel calmer when I take it! Anyways, I had a realization a few weeks ago that God may have let this happen for me to rely on Him and draw me closer to Him. I once heard this quote, "What a loving a God we serve who allows pain to bring us closer to Him." I'll pray for Luke and I so appreciate you sharing!

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  8. What a timely post. My husband is struggling with anxiety and it's beyond my realm of comprehension. He says it's been a problem his whole life but in the 6 years we've been together he's never done anything about it until this week when he made a doctor's appointment. Since I'm a natural problem solver, his general lack of effort has made it difficult for me to be compassionate. This post reminds me that I need to keep an open-mind and be more support. I'm glad to read Luke is doing better, hopefully the positive improvement continues.

    www.carriedawaydetroit.com

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  9. I love you have talked about this. I think people do feel like panic attacks are shameful, but they are real & serious.
    I have sat in the ER with my husband MANY a time due to panic attacks where he felt like he was having heart attacks. There is no helping someone while they go through this.. its heart breaking.
    Anxiety is a REAL thing... more people need to talk about it.
    Thanks for opening up.
    Prayers for Luke... & for you as you help your husband through the hard times.

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  10. this post is awesome. there is nothing better than transparency and honest (in my opinion). because - duh… God calls us to support each other and pray for each other and encourage one another and how can we do that if we're hiding behind facades?
    i've found that so often when i'm trying to mask my own weaknesses, i fail to let Him display His strength.
    i've suffered from panic attacks - which honestly, was no real surprise to anyone - ha! i tend to be pretty high strung and quite anxious. but still, they were extremely terrifying and i remember calling 911 at one point because i thought i was legitimately having a heart attack. when my dad started suffering from panic attacks it was a whole different ballgame. he seems to be more like Luke - he was a leader in our church, as laid back as they come, never anxious about anything - so it was a total shock that it was happening and a game changer to actually SEE them happen. it's something that i'll never forget, but thankfully by the grace of God, it is in his past and hasn't happened in probably 10-12 years. luke will get through this - and he is SO lucky to have someone like you that supports him and is willing to walk through this with him. and you are so lucky that he's willing to get help and be so transparent with you. that's what God intended marriage to be like! when one person is weak, the other is strong. thanks for sharing megan. and prayers for you and luke and your family!

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  11. I could have written a similar post and I love that you're talking about this. I've always had a mild anxiety problems, but when my husband started experiencing panic attacks it rocked my world. He has always been there to hold me up so it felt like it came out of nowhere and scared me. I had never been so frightened in all my life. But, after counseling and medication he has been returned to his old self. He just weaned from his medication (zoloft) and is doing well, but we're keeping a close watch. Panic attacks can be serious and debilitating so I'm glad you are all being proactive. Prayers for Luke and you all.

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  12. Ross has recently experienced panic attacks and has discovered that they are directly related to his blood sugar levels. He has found that eating plenty of protein throughout the day has keep them at bay. The trick is to eat before you're hungry. Well be praying for you guys!!

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  13. I'm praying that all the love, support, prayers, and medication continue to help! I'm sure that sharing this will help others.

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  14. I'm so glad you shared people NEED to be more educated on this type of thing. You guys are awesome for knowing who you can trust and getting the right help. xo

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  15. 2014 has been our weirdest year ever too. good stuff here too (we adopted our son, bought a new house, etc.) but my husband (and pastor) also got diagnosed with panic attacks, sought counseling and started medication. the advice that pushed him to get help was, "if you believe in The Fall, how could you not think it could affect you/your mind/body." duh. Glad our guys got help! (jennifer in okc)

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