Thursday, October 15, 2020

Submitting to God and Reality- the Anxiety I'm in.

Woods path on grey day.
It's been an Anxious week. A "Hi, it's me, your OCD, I'm still here!" kind of week. It's likely that my laziness in not picking up a prescription for a few days and thus missing a few doses of the chemicals my brain needs for functioning properly has something to do with it. It's been fascinating to me to read about neurological research into OCD verifying that brains like mine are literally low in serotonin. The brain needs serotonin to communicate between different parts of itself. It's a neurotransmitter. When levels are too low, the inter-brain messaging system gets whacked out. This explains quite nicely, I think, why taking sertraline not only helps with the crazy-messages of OCD, but overall improves my ability to think clearly. 

Therapy for OCD and anxiety, I've learned, is not just about meds, though. They can help, a lot, but it's essential to come to terms with and accept the fact that anxiety is a part of life, and we don't have much control over its sudden appearances. Some of us have over-the-top far too much anxiety, but everyone experiences it at some point. Most self-induced messes- bad habits, addictions, OCD compulsions, unhealthy thinking etc, develop out of a desire to escape from the suffering that anxiety causes us mentally. We're searching for relief, anything to get away from those nasty feelings. Yet research tells us that while those things may provide temporary (very fleeting) relief, they actually only feed the anxiety cycle. There's only one real way out: submission and acceptance. Learning to accept that fact that anxiety is there, and not trying to do anything about it (unless, of course, it is actually doing its real job, protecting you from harm, so by all means, grab your toddler out of the street, ha ha). For example, this might be my internal conversation when I am trying to handle anxiety in a more effective way:

"Oh, hey, Anxiety. Here you are. Is there a fire? A lava pit I'm about to walk into? No? Ohhhhh, you wanted to talk about that stressful conversation I had yesterday with the neighbor. Go over it at least 150 times? Well, I'm not going to do that. First, lets take a deep breath and see how my body is feeling. Hmm. An unpleasant feeling across my chest, in my gut, down my legs, and in my feet, even. Tired, droopy eyes. Shallow breathing. Okay. Relax, and just feel. Just accept these feelings. They are there. But it's okay. I'm still loved. My God cares about me and He's got this. He knows that I'm experiencing this. This is something He's allowing me to experience right now. Just feel. Don't act. Allow the feeling to exist. Don't try to push it away or so anything to get rid of it." 

Let's talk about Jesus for a minute, since my ultimate underlying desire every day is to become more like Him. His whole life, every day, was giving up His ability to control anything and submit completely to the experiences and tasks that His Father, God, brought Him to. He didn't fight them, or push them away. He moved forward and submitted to His Father's will. And that mean accepting an incredible amount of suffering and hardship. But He had His eye on a more ultimate truth and reality... that His submission would bring about really, really good things, orchestrated by God. He rested in that trust. And that's where I need to rest, too. This is a day that I woke up anxious. So be it. I won't try to run away from it, I will instead ask God to handle it, to work in it, and I will allow it to exist. I accept the reality that I find myself in today, which is very uncomfortable. But I accept it and move on with my day and the things I need to do, and trust God to lead me to what I need... which may be a conversation with someone, a book, truths in Scripture, or spontaneous revelation while I am weeding the garden. Lots of times what I need is simply a nugget of wisdom from my Instagram feed, which I don't use much for social purposes, but more for following wise counselors and psychologists who specialize in anxiety and OCD.  And every time the thought pops in again, about that stressful conversation with the neighbor, it's time to stop, assess my body, my feelings, just be, and move on again.

It's a journey that I have a long way to go on. But I can also look back and see how far I've come. And I can most definitely see God's loving hand working in all these hard places has changed me and molded me for the better. To trust Him more, and more quickly, than I used to. To choose resting in the assurance that He's got this no matter how awful I feel and how horrendous my OCD thoughts are being. Blessings on you, dear reader, keep on!

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