June 17, 2017
My Illness and My Faith- Part II
Psalm 57:1-2- “Have mercy on me O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.”
I was home. With God. In church.
Sadly, still, the anger decides to show itself every now and then. I have recently had a major bout with my anxiety- which messes with my speech and OCD- and went into a mild mania- which also messes with my OCD.
One of the triggers to this anxiety bout stemmed from church. Our pastor has been on a much needed, and deserved, sabbatical. Starting in May and going through the end of July there will only be one service on Sunday mornings. That means a full sanctuary. People. A lot of people. I desperately wanted to be able to continue attending service despite that. I began attempting to come up with coping mechanisms. That led to guilt and anxiety. As the time drew closer to the first Sunday of the combined service the anxiety began climbing higher and higher. I talked to my therapist about different coping mechanism ideas. It.. How can I explain how it felt? Church is the one place you shouldn’t need coping mechanisms. It is a place of peace. A place of love. A place of calming.
Not even my therapist understood- she began talking about how church can be a source of anxiety, going into all of the reasons (this was after the anxiety reached its peak and we were going through triggers). Church has never been a source of anxiety. Quite the opposite. Especially since finding it again this past September. I leave service feeling refreshed. Renewed may be a better word.
She (my therapist) did have a valid point, however. I rely on my routine. I depend on it. The OCD- I go to the same places, cross the street at the same driveway… I never alter my structured life. Routine, routine, routine. I attempted to go to church that first Sunday of combined service. I ended up getting there normal time instead of 10:30. I walked up to get something to drink and took the bus back towards the church. I couldn’t get off the bus when seeing all of the cars. What happened? I didn’t even have to tell my therapist- she already knew. Guilt sets in; and more anxiety from there because I’m so upset not being able to do it. I torment myself.
The anger at God began to set in. Luckily it didn’t reach a breaking point. I was out of work for 2 1/2 weeks due to the speech. When I went back I met with the nun that is our Director of Mission & Ministry (I work at a Catholic nursing home). I adore her. We talked about the triggers leading up to this anxiety induced absence. I explained the combined service. Her response? “Maybe YOU need to take a sabbatical. God will not be mad. Listen to the podcasts, continue to study, continue to pray. God knows. He understands.” There aren’t words for the weight lifted after hearing that from her.
God knows everything. I hate not being able to attend service. I’m counting down the Sundays until we go back to two services. He knows all of that. Everything. He knows everything.
The anxiety led into a manic episode. This one is scary. I have lied when people have asked if I was worried about this one. I am. It feels different. I can’t describe how. It just does. I don’t feel like myself. Something’s wrong. I don’t need a hospital… I don’t think.
I have been listening to podcasts from church- at least one or two a day. They bring me a sense of structure that I desperately need. I walk at night. Walking under the stars makes me feel close to God in a way that I can’t reach during the day. Today is Saturday. Monday morning I’m hoping to go and sit in my church’s sanctuary. Being there, I hope and pray, will lead me to answers I need right now.
2 Corinthians 7:4- “I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles.”