Scaling the Mountain: Part 6
Part of "A Journey to Charis"
I sat in my doctor's office a couple of months ago. I had been through a gamut of medical help, doctors, and treatments for all the strange things my body has been going through the past couple years. I had improved in so many ways, both physically and mentally. But there were still symptoms that just didn't respond to any treatments or resolve in any way. I had had a headache... a single, ongoing headache for about 19 months. I was still experiencing hypervigilant feelings. A certain sound, atmosphere, or even a person would trigger a "fight or flight" response in my body that I couldn't control, and that would last for days. My heart was still pounding. Nightmares were still plaguing me. I was still so fragile. Outside of my immediate family and doctors and nurses, there were still only eight people I felt a sense of safety with... felt I could be myself with. Something still wasn't right at all.
My doctor looked at me with gentle eyes. I think you have a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he told me.
How can that be? I haven't been fighting in Iraq. I haven't been assaulted or witnessed a violent act. I just didn't understand. I thought that if I admitted to having PTSD, I would be diminishing the experiences and traumas of others. But I couldn't deny that the symptoms lined up.
It doesn't just have to be a result of a single event, he informed me. It can be a series of events or stresses over a period of time, he said, assuring me. It could be a result of feeling trapped or helpless.
He agreed to give me some meds on one condition. I would have to go to see a counselor and do some work with cognitive behavioral therapy. It would be hard work, and it would probably take a while.
I am afraid to admit all this. I feel afraid of what people will think... about this "label," about me taking meds. I am embarrassed to admit how horribly I have been at coping with stress. I am ashamed to admit that in past years, I took on a bunch of guilt that wasn't my own, and I let it rule me. I was too frightened to ask for help back when I needed it. I didn't want to be that honest. I didn't want to hurt other people. So I kept everything inside.
I feel like I let everyone down.
And especially God.
But God is taking me by His right hand, leading me again, onto yet another path of healing. I am learning to walk with Him one step at a time, one obstacle after another. I'm learning to breathe in His life again. I'm choosing to cast my anxiety upon Him, and truly believe that He cares for me. Some days I am dealing with the effects of something that triggered my mind and body, and I am trusting Him to walk me through. Other days, He delivers me from symptoms, and I feel like me... no headache, no hypervigilance, no pounding heart or nightmares. I am learning to walk in gratitude no matter how I feel. When I am weak, I thank Him for His strength and faithfulness, and that I can grow in compassion. When I am feeling stronger, I thank Him for joy that comes easily, fresh hope, and the ability to think clearly.
I am thankful for Him and for the help He has provided for me. I am thankful for the family and friends who have stuck by me, encouraged me, and let me be me. I'm thankful for wise counsel. And I'm thankful for those little pills that are helping the dendrites in my neurological system to start flourishing again, while I'm doing the mental and spiritual work I need to do.
As hard as this has all been,
I am thankful for this season
and I am thankful for my life.