Seeking Support

Living with Anxiety ~ Part 3

I chose to title this series “Living with Anxiety” because it is possible to live with it. I still have some bad days and the odd panic attack (read my tips on dealing with a panic attack here). But I am living! I live a full life and I know God made me just the way I am. This disease is part of being in a broken body in a broken world. One day He will return to make that all right, but for now, I’ve learned the importance of seeking support. And not just seeking any support, but seeking the RIGHT support!

Seeking Support Living with Anxiety Part 3 Pinterest graphic with friends on a mountain

This post may contain affiliate links. Through not added cost to you, I may a small commission on your purchase. For more information, please see my disclosure statement.

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:3-5

Seeking Support

I was ashamed and embarrassed for so long about what I was going through. I really believed there was something wrong with me. Looking back, I wish I had advocated for myself more. But, that’s what anxiety and depression do. A normal thought is not normal, it’s twisted and obscured.

As I said last week in my Living with Anxiety series “Jesus & Medication”, my first episode of depression was when I was in Bible School. I believe it all stemmed from my anxiety, but I did not get the help I needed. Mental health was thought to be a weakness. It wasn’t Jesus and medication, or Jesus and counseling; It was just Jesus. I tried so hard, I really did. My roommates were amazing, but they were in their early 20’s like me. They weren’t equipped to deal with someone going through what I was going through. They prayed for me a lot and I do believe that’s what helped me get through that year.

But, what I needed was some professional help whether that be a doctor or a counselor or whatever. Even a mentor who recognized what was going on. Maybe I wouldn’t have struggled for as long as I did if I had got help the first time around. But, I’m stubborn and I just plowed through it.

Seeking the Right Support

Obviously, at Bible School, I didn’t receive the right support that I needed at that time. It’s no one’s fault, I didn’t ask either. During my second major depressive episode 4 or 5 years later, I FINALLY got to the point where I knew I needed to ask for help. I was completely broke, so I couldn’t afford anything. Our church hosted a group once a week from an organization that provided counseling and guidance services to people who couldn’t afford it. I worked up the courage to finally stop in there one afternoon. I broke down in tears. The lady I met with was so kind and compassionate on me.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t one of the counselors who met with people on a regular basis. So, I got paired up with another lady there. This did not end up being the right fit for me at all! She basically told me I wasn’t eating and was throwing up all the time because my appetite was changing, as it does when you’re in your 20’s. I was feeling so anxious because I was making some major life decisions with where I was working. Once I figured that out, everything would be fine. It was far from fine.

The Right Fit

If someone is not listening to you or even validating the feelings you are having, it is not the right support. I felt like I had no other options, so I continued going to see her until I finally decided to move back home with my parents to BC to get some real help. I hadn’t told her as I moved in kind of a whirl wind, but I remember her phoning me the week I moved home to see if I was coming in that week and how I was doing. She was shocked that I decided to move back home, what about my boyfriend? What about my job? There’s so much I wish I had said to her, but I think at that moment she finally got how serious I had been in what I was going through.

The youth pastor at my parent’s church put us in touch with a lovely, amazing counselor when I got home. I didn’t want to go, I think my Mom even drove me there for my first appointment. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made (along with marrying my husband!) Finally, someone was listening to me and validating what I was going through. And she was a Christian and helped me walk through seeing that anxiety and depression is not a weakness in my faith, but a weakness in my body. If you aren’t 100% happy with your doctor or realtor or whatever, you get a second opinion, right? The same goes for counselors; find one that truly fits what you need to get healthy.

Reach Out…

I am always here if you feel like you need to chat with someone! Please reach out if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or afraid. I am not a counselor, but I am more than willing to walk with you, cry with you and advocate for you. Please do not let things get too far. Your life is worth far more than that, you deserve to live a full life. Christ came so we can live life abundantly (John 10:10). You can contact me here through my about page, leave a comment below or email me at caroline@lilymags.com. I want to be part of your tribe! I want to be in your corner, your biggest cheerleader, your prayer warrior!

Living with Anxiety 4 Part Series in Seeking Support

The Wonders of what God has Done

I was so honoured when Liz from My Messy Desk contacted me to share Lily’s birth story for her series on The Wonders of what God has Done.

Our sweet little preemie miracle in The Wonders of What God has Done
Our sweet little preemie miracle

Liz is a blogger, writer, crafter, mother and encourager… just a few of my favourite things as well! She’s all about overcoming messes, making memories and becoming masterpieces.

“I believe life is messy. I know mine is…and I’m not just talking about my craft room. But I also know that through Jesus we have the power to overcome those MESSES. I believe we can either allow our MEMORIES (the good, the bad, and the ugly) to keep us stuck or use them to catapult us along the journey of becoming just who God designed us to be. And believe me, He created each of us with unique gifts and traits suited to shout His glory in our own special way. We are all God’s MASTERPIECES.”

Liz ~ My Messy Desk

Please check out Lily’s preemie story of the Wonders of What God has Done. I pray it will be an encouragement to you of Who God is and what He can do ❤️

http://www.creativeinspirationsatmymessydesk.com/a-premies-story-the-wonder-of-what-god-has-done/

First family picture in the Wonders of what God has  Done
First family picture

Book Review ~ Shame Off You

Shame Off You from Hiding to Healing by Denise Pass

In this vulnerable, raw and honest book, Shame Off You, Denise Pass walks us through going from hiding to healing in our shame. She uses the phrase “Shame Off You” instead of “Shame On You” that we so often use.

Denise really makes you think about shame and how it effects so many aspects of our lives. Shame is a vicious cycle that goes through condemnation, comparison, crisis and commitment. However, there is a better way, a Biblical way to work through shame; Revelation, reflection, repentance and restoration.

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For more information please see my disclosure statement. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Denise Pass Author of Shame Off You

Picture of Author Denise Pass in Book Review ~ Shame Off You

Shame is an assault on the core of who we are. It assassinates our character, minimizes our worth, and dashes our hope. Like Adam and Eve, we often hide shame, but hiding never heals it. Left unattended, shame can develop into a crippling reality that paralyzes us. Like an infectious disease, shame impacts everyone . . . but not all shame is bad.

Shame can either be an oppressive and powerful tool of worldly condemnation or a source of conviction that God uses to bring his people back to himself. Having the discernment to know the difference and recognize shame in its many forms can change the course of one’s life.

In a transparently honest style, Denise Pass shares of her experience dealing with shame after learning that her former husband was a sexual offender. Having lived through the aftermath, she leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself that God is bigger than your pain, shame, mistakes, and limitations.

Shame Off You (available from Abingdon Press) shares how freedom can be found in choosing to break the cycle of shame by learning from the past, developing healthy thinking patterns, silencing lies, and overcoming the traps of vanity and other people’s opinions.

Interview with Denise

Q: Can you start us off by sharing a little bit of your own story?

I did not realize just how significant of an impact shame had on my life until I started writing this book. I don’t think I recognized all I was experiencing in my life as shame. Shame affected me in profound ways—from worrying to the point of obsession about what others thought of me to shame from my past, present and in the future. Shame was pervasively impacting all of life: how I related to others, processed my perception of myself and responded in social situations. Shame was snuffing out my hope and life, and it felt like I had no way out.

Then in 2007, God revealed to me my (then) husband was a sex offender and some of our children were his victims. This revelation crushed us, and the ensuing shame was crippling. I had waited for marriage and married a Christian man. We were that homeschool family. It did not seem possible. But it was. Through that devastating season, my children and I drew nearer to God, reading the Bible through and clinging to His precious promises. I continued to home educate, and we put one foot in front of the other. Through a five-year long court battle. Through tragic new revelations. Through sorrow up on sorrow and financial woes. God was our God through all of it and the lessons we learned as shame lost its grip on our souls were priceless.

Now, my four oldest are all in college and walking with God, and my youngest son who I adopted from Russia is still home educated by the grace of God. And me? God brought a precious man into my life who I call my Kinsman Redeemer. There’s more about him (my “Bo”—short for Boaz) in the book.

Q: At its root, what is shame, and why is it so detrimental to us?

There are many roots underlying what we call shame.  Shame is the broad term used, but there are so many things interwoven in our culture that we accept as “normal.” Shame is an accusation on our soul that says we are not enough. News flash—we are not enough—but God is. He is our righteousness and removes all of our sin and shame. Shame is peer pressure and the fear of man—we would not have shame if we did not have an audience. Shame is a label or box that imprisons our souls and steals our joy. Shame is detrimental because it gives us a false identity and keeps us from living the abundant life Jesus promises, distracting us from the mission we have been called to.

Book Cover in Book Review ~ Shame Off You by Denise Pass

Q: What are some of the most common underlying sources of shame? Is shame always caused by a sin a person commits him/herself?

Shame is a head game that we do to ourselves most of the time, but there is also plenty of social shaming that goes on—shunning and people condemning one another. While sin invites shame into our lives as a natural consequence, shame is prevalent within our culture. We come by it naturally and so we don’t question it. Expectations cause shame to rise when we don’t meet them. Comparison. Pride. These are huge contributors to the game of shame. The presence of shame in our lives is ultimately a spiritual matter. We feel the truth behind the statement that we are not enough. We accept this condemnation, but it can become our vindication. We are not enough. That’s ok, because Christ is our Righteousness. The enemy of our souls is always accusing us, but our Savior is always interceding for us.  

Q: Shame typically surrounds a situation the public is aware of, at least in the mind of the person walking through it. How can the church community be more supportive of a member suffering with shame?

Great question. We would not have shame if we did not have an audience. It is this fear of man and focus on self that makes us feel so very exposed as we seek acceptance and to snuff out rejection. In my situation, I felt like the church did not know how to handle sex abuse situations, so they didn’t. I was told to be silent. The shame culture thrives in silence. However, being able to talk about it in a God-honoring way and having support instead of isolation would take the sting out of shame and turn it on its head. When we protect the violator and silence the victims, we are propagating and promoting shame.

Q: In what ways do we intentionally or unintentionally heap shame on others?

We live in a society of labels. People try to define one another by false identities based on their performance—good or bad, or their status in this life. When we move away from our identity being in Christ, we find that our identity falls short. Shame was introduced to man in the garden of Eden. We left perfection and chose an insecure, shame-filled culture, instead. Discontent with our lot, comparison and the fear or man have robbed us confidence and plagued us with shame in all of life. Shame is also used as a tool of power by people who seek to subject others, shaming them into submission. And again, shame is in our culture, so it is fairly invisible. We just accept it as part of life, which can cause us to unintentionally continue in the shame culture.


Buy the Book


Q: How is Shame Off You set up and designed to be used?

Shame Off You is the story of a girl who shrunk her shame. It is a guide for recognizing the shame all around us and how to rid ourselves of shame biblically. There is a biblical lens of Truth, Humility and Grace that we view shame through, as well as Cycles of Shame and Redemption, a Shame Spectrum and Shame Quiz so we can evaluate how shame is impacting our lives. There is also a resource guide in the back of the book that covers 40 different common shames we might encounter along with Scriptures to combat that shame.

Shame Off You systematically covers everything from feeling shunned and rejected, to being shy, to worrying about what others thought or said about me to traumatic shame that paralyzes us.

Q: What are the steps to overcoming shame?

Shame distracts us from the mission of God and keeps us from living on mission for Christ. It causes us to focus on self and limits our worth. It hurts our relationship with God and others and causes us to live defeated, discouraged lives. It has to be dealt with. Recognizing shame’s presence is necessary to be able to deal with it effectively.

From recognition, we need to discern whether we are dealing with condemnation or conviction. Condemnation is based on works whereas Conviction is based on relationship. Once we know what we are dealing with, we need to consult God’s word and use a biblical filter to evaluate our shame and then let it go. We defeat shame not by mere words. And hiding shame does not heal it. We have to face shame and deal with it biblically to be set free. We don’t get rid of shame because it humbles us—but because it prevents us from living the abundant life Christ promises, reaching those around us.

About the author

Denise Pass, author of Shame Off You, is an award-winning CCM recording artist and singer-songwriter, accomplished writer/blogger, speaker and worship leader at women’s conferences as well as a worship leader on staff at her home church. After a crushing discovery of her former husband’s hidden life and surviving a painful divorce, she now shares an inspirational message through her ministry, Seeing Deep Ministries, about seeing the deeper truth in God’s word when life hurts.

Denise also founded and directed a home educational co-op for 12 years and engaged in many educational pursuits, including forming and directing a classical children’s choir. A graduate from the University of Maryland, Denise now resides in Virginia, with her “Kinsman Redeemer” husband and five children.

Learn more about Shame Off You at https://shameoffyou.life/the-book. You can also find out more about Denise Pass at DenisePass.com. She can also be found on Facebook (Denise Pass – Author/Speaker/ Worship Leader) and Twitter (@TheDenisePass).

Win a copy of Shame Off You by Denise Pass in Book Review ~ Shame Off You
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Jesus and Medication

Living with Anxiety Part 2

Jesus & Medication

One of my biggest hurdles in getting help with my anxiety was the thought that mental health is all in our heads and we really just need to trust God more. There’s no Jesus and Medication, the answer is just Jesus. Well, believe me, I tried this for years and it was awful.

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may make a small commission. For more information please see my disclosure statement.

I was taught at a Bible School I went to that there’s no need for Jesus and… no Jesus and medication; no Jesus and counseling. All you need is Jesus. It was fine to be a diabetic and take insulin, or to have cancer and go through chemo or radiation. But, it was not OK to have a mental illness and need medication or anything else to help you overcome the illness. Looking back now, it makes absolutely no sense, but it was what I was taught and I believed it.

First Time on Medication

When I first started taking medication for depression in my early 20’s, I was chatting with a good friend (at least I thought they were a good friend) about some of my struggles I’d been having. I was having a hard time adjusting to living back at home as well as just feeling lost overall in where God wanted me. As we were chatting (this was back in the days of MSN Messenger), he basically told me I was sinning in thinking I needed more than Jesus. He said I was just taking “happy pills” and I didn’t need them. It broke my heart.

I see now that my chemical imbalances were affecting much of my thought processes, but again I didn’t know that then! This was a friend I respected a lot. Needless to say, I got off the medication about as fast as I safely could! But I knew something still wasn’t right. I searched and searched trying to find that “feeling” of having full faith and trust in Jesus. I moved across the country looking for it thinking that if I worked in a Christian organization God would see how much I trusted Him and would follow Him. Maybe then He’d see I didn’t need anything except Him and He’d set me free from my anxiety.

Photo of pills with Jesus and Medication

Jesus and Taking Medication

I don’t really know what changed in me, but it finally got so bad I had to get help. I was living miles away from my own family, I was desperately trying to do everything exactly the right away to be the best I could for Jesus, but I was falling apart. I wasn’t eating because I was too anxious, and when I did eat, I would usually end up throwing up because my stomach was just in knots! I lost 20lbs over a few months and I did not have 20lbs to lose! I was skin and bones.

I largely kept it to myself, I was ashamed and embarrassed. Finally, after some coaxing from my family and friends, I went to the doctor. She prescribed me some medication that I had been on before and I was able to find a counselor (although, not a good one… more on that next week!) It helped a bit, and I had some great support from my roommate and boyfriend and their families in Ontario, but, I was still spiraling out of control.

One day, mom my decided enough was enough and she flew across the country to come visit me. We’d been on the phone the night before and I asked her to come and she did at the drop of the hat. She mentioned that she thought I should move back home, and I finally agreed. I packed up that weekend and moved home the next week.

Counseling

The thing that really helped me the most in this journey was going to a good Godly counselor. My Mom had hooked everything up before I even got home and I started meeting with her weekly the week I got home. She finally helped me to see that there is nothing wrong with taking medication to help with a medical problem.

In Mark 8 when Jesus feeds the 4000, he says in verse 2: ” I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.” He felt compassion for his people. He feels compassion for me. He looks at me, whether I’m taking medication or not, and has compassion on me. If He has compassion on me, should I not have compassion on His people as well. And guess what?!? I’m one of His people! I need to have compassion for myself as well. I needed to stop trying to be perfect in order to gain God’s favour and I needed to accept help. Even the help of medication from medical professionals.

Living with Anxiety 4 Part Series in Jesus and Medication

Becky Thompson ~ Revived Motherhood

I was recently listening to a Podcast by Becky Thomas of Revived Motherhood. It’s titled Christian Women and Anxiety. I was listening to it in my car driving to work and I was almost in tears. It spoke such truth! I was practically shouting “yes, yes, Amen sister!” in my car. Here’s the podcast:

Ep. 07 | Christian Women and Anxiety 20:59 2018-12-19 Let’s talk anxiety. How does a Christian woman walk the line of fear and faith? How do we justify what we are feeling when we know what the Word says is true? The truth is, I cannot talk about anxiety without speaking about my personal experience with it.

I was first introduced to Becky Thompson when I read her book Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Soul. My sister gave me the book and it was just what I needed to hear at that point in time as a mother of two young girls. The book and reading more about Becky at http://beckythompson.com/ is also what started me on the path of starting this blog!

You can find some of her other books on Amazon as well. I really recommend checking her out! She’s very authentic and real.

Living with Anxiety ~ First Panic Attacks

Living with Anxiety ~ 4 Part Series

Part 1 ~ First Panic Attacks

Welcome to my 4 Part Series on Living with Anxiety. This is a hard part of my story and my walk with God to share, but I feel like it is important. It’s important to end the stigma there is especially in the church, and to encourage others who may be going through something similar and let them know they are not alone. I’ve written a bit about my anxiety before (Fighting a Panic Attack ~ 4 Practical Tips) but my hope and prayer for this Living with Anxiety series are that it will help all of us be a little more compassionate to ourselves and to others whether we struggle with anxiety or know someone who does. Here is Part 1 ~ First Panic Attacks

Living with Anxiety 4 Part Series

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For more information please see my Disclosure Statement.

Prayer

I just feel like it’s important to start this whole thing off with prayer.

Father God, thank you for loving us just exactly where we are and for who we are. You created each of us in Your own image and said “It is good.” I pray that the words I type here today will bless another heart. I pray that You guide me and give me the words and keep anything out that is not beneficial. In Your precious Name, Amen.

Winter Camping

Ok, let’s get started. I clearly remember my very first panic attack. I was in grade six or seven, so around 12 years old. Of course, I didn’t realize or know it was a panic attack at the time. I just knew I was terrified and thought I was going to die.

I was winter camping with the girls group from my church. Usually, it was just the boys group that got to go, but my friends and I wanted to go so badly! Finally, after much begging (I think they finally just got sick of us asking) they said if we found a female leader to go with us, we could come. We asked the French teacher at our school, who was really outdoorsy, and she agreed to take us! Needless to say, we were super excited!!

The day finally came and we were all set to go. We got there in the late afternoon and started looking for a good place in the snow to set up camp. We weren’t sleeping in tents, just right in the snow. Our group decided to build something like an igloo to help keep us warm for the night. Most of the guys just dug out a clearing in the snow and covered it with a tarp. After having supper and s’ mores around the campfire, we headed to bed later that night. That’s when it happened.

Panic in the Night

I had a hard time falling to sleep. It seemed like all the other girls were out in no time. We squished in side by side in this snow bank basically. I started getting really hot and sweaty, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I HAD to get out of there, I was in a panic. So, I wiggled out and pulled out my sleeping bag. I was having a hard time breathing, almost like I was hyperventilating, I seriously thought I was going to die. It was so scary, but I was also really embarrassed about it for some reason. I never did go wake anyone up to help me. I ended up sleeping out under the stars in my sleeping bag trying to calm myself by regulating my breathing. By morning I was freezing.

My Dad happened to be one of the leaders on that trip. I didn’t know exactly where he was sleeping or I probably would have gone and got him in the night. I just remember going to him in the morning in tears and told him I didn’t feel good. My body felt just completely wiped out. We were supposed to ski the entire next day, I spent the day in the Lodge and in our van trying to get some sleep. Everyone kept asking if I was alright. I was ashamed to admit that I wasn’t really sick, I just freaked out during the night for no apparent reason. I’d just say I was fine, my stomach was bothering me.

My First Panic Attacks in Living with Anxiety

Second Panic Attack

My second panic attack came a few years later. I was in grade 12, so 17 years old or so. We were on a phys-ed class overnight hiking trip. Everything had been great, the hike up to the lake we were camping at was amazing. We had to backpack everything in and out, so it was a tough hike, but we were having a lot of fun.

When we got there, we all set up our tents. I was sharing a tent with one of my girlfriends, we got it set up no problem. The second night, after we had supper and were starting to get ready for bed, 2 of our guy friends realized that they set up their tent right in a gully that was now flowing with water after it had rained a bit that day (I’m not sure how they didn’t notice that before!) Their tent flooded. We had more room in our tent, so they crashed with us. I ended up squished up against the side of the tent.

Another Panic in the Night

Again, I couldn’t fall asleep. Then I just panicked. I was shivering and sweating and I HAD to get out of that tent! This time I did end up waking up my girlfriend. We were camping in bear country, so we couldn’t go anywhere on our own. When we got out, I had to go to the bathroom, like right now! We were in the middle of nowhere, so no outhouses or anything. We had to dig a hole to use for the toilet. We were supposed to go out from camp a little way, but I couldn’t make it that far. So, there I went, just 10 feet or so down the path from our tents.

I felt a bit better after that but still slept very fitfully that night. I think I made one of our guy friends switch spots with me so I could be in the middle of the tent rather than up against the wall. The next day, we were hiking back down. I felt so incredibly drained and tired, but we had to go. Telling our leaders I was sick seemed like the easiest thing to do and I stayed near that back of the pack with the “slower” hikers. I was so glad to finally get home that day. Again, I felt so embarrassed.

The Worst Part

Not knowing what was happening was the worst part of it all. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, I felt like I was weak or there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to admit that to anyone! So, I just ignored it and continued on with life. Little did I know that would come to bite me in the butt in the next few years!

If you or someone you know is struggling with Anxiety or any other mental health issue, please reach out for help! I am happy to point you in the right direction for any resources you may need. Here is a quick quiz from WebMd about some of the Facts of Anxiety, what it is and when it might be becoming a problem: What’s Worrying You? The Facts About Anxiety.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Living with Anxiety ~ Jesus & Medication