Did I seriously just pack my anxiety on this vacation?!

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Just about every time I go on vacation I have to say a prayer and have a pep talk with myself just so I may mentally prepare for situations that quite possibly could send my heart rate sky-high. Since I was little, I have always thrived on a consistent schedule, waking up early and having my tasks for the day planned out carefully in my head all before 7am. When I was 23 I was diagnosed with a mild case of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I was devastated and thankful to have these results because now my whole life made a little more sense. My depression, my anxiety, and so much more, it all came together. PCOS is a hormonal disorder, which has a variety if symptoms related to it. (For more information, please click here.) There were so many thoughts racing through my head after finding this information out. I was mainly thinking now that I know, what am I going to do with this information? I needed to help other women who were going through this as well, which is exactly what I do. Since having PCOS, I feel extremely blessed that I was able to conceive, and for that I thank God, I know He had a plan for this obstacle.

 I had plenty of anxiety attacks before having children, some were bad, others I could just exercise off, which led me to believe I had them under control. As long as my schedule was in order, I had no reason to panic, I needed to be in control all the time. However, once I had children, I realized these little people messed up my whole schedule, and the loss of control began! It was so scary, and filled with panic attacks that occurred daily. It is extremely difficult for me to have these little human beings that I carried for 10 months, defy me and my schedule and actually CHOOSE to exercise their free will (sarcastically of course!). My anxiety is mainly triggered by too much needing to be done with never having enough time to complete everything. I also know that I have a particular way of doing things and I know exactly how long it will take me per activity, so if someone derails my plans it is almost the end of the world as I know it. (dramatic, yes, at least I am honest!) I take my work extremely seriously, and I don’t like to be late. Ever heard that saying “If you’re not early, you’re late.” Yeah, that’s me! I even find myself holding others accountable for being late when we are only 5 minutes away from our scheduled time, and that has to stop!

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Lately, I am trying to deal with this anxiety of my never-ending to-do list by purposely not do things to see how I survive. That isn’t so bad, right? It is much harder than one would think! It is almost impossible for me to not make the bed before I take my daughter to preschool, because then it becomes a bit of a domino effect as to why I can’t do other chores. If I don’t make the bed I can’t set clean laundry on the bed to put away, and if I can’t put laundry on the bed then I can’t start another load of laundry yet. If I can’t start a load then I am wasting time not doing laundry while cleaning the house because that is just more work I will have to do later by doing them separately, and well, you see where this is going. It gets a bit ridiculous at times. So here I am, not making my bed on vacation, and telling myself that no one really cares anyways if the bed isn’t made. I waited it until the last day of my trip to make the bed, where others were questioning why I chose to make the bed now, I was finally able to exhale because it was finally done. I did it for me, to satisfy that little bit inside me that feels I went way too long. It is not just about making the bed, it’s so much more than that.

I believe my daughter is one person who helps me learn something about myself every day. She is so carefree and can be laid back about everything we have to do in life. There are no time constraints with her, a vacation is really a vacation, which means she is on vacation from cleaning up after herself at all costs. I love listening to her stories of how she views this world, it’s huge, there is so much to do, and the best part is we have all day to do what ever we want! She is teaching me to not be so schedule driven for every little thing, some days don’t go as I planned. This trip was an eye opener for me, even though my anxiety came with me, I didn’t allow it to make its way into the driver’s seat. It lurked around me as if it was waiting for me to just cave and give in to it, disregarding all the hard work I have put in so far to tame it. I just didn’t let it win this time. My anxiety is not coming with me next time! I am leaving it, and I refuse to let it follow me to my destination.

Unintentional Break

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For eight months now my life has consisted of a disciplined schedule of running and training my body for events I would have never thought I could do. When I am angry, grieving, sad, lost, hopeless, or just plain happy, I run. There is no one to irritate me, there is no where else for me to be and there are definitely no munchkins yelling “MOM!” It is a time that I can just be lost in the abyss of my thoughts or lack thereof. I can relish in the absolute joy of listening to uninterrupted music for two and a half hours straight, and pray until my soul is filled to the brim. I have the time to admire Gods’ creation, every flower, every tree, and the smell of the brisk morning air. I love being the first one up in the morning before the sun has risen, seeing the stars light up the sky allows me to catch a glimpse of the heavens and just how grand our Creator made our universe. I wish every run were that blissful, but unfortunately the majority my runs are extremely uncomfortable and difficult until I get to mile three. Once I am there, I have passed the point of telling myself to just turn around, it’s going to be way too difficult today! At the end of my run, when I walk in the door and hear my children squeal with excitement it is enough to make me smile from ear to ear, and know that pounding the pavement wasn’t just for me but for them as well.

It’s been exactly one week since I went on a run and I sure didn’t expect to go a whole week without running. To some one week is a good amount of time to take off and recover, for me it is dipping my toes into a dangerous combination of over indulgence and zero accountability. I tend to gravitate towards junk food and begin to lose sight of the big picture: my goal to live a healthy lifestyle. Just as when I run, I eat when I am happy, sad, grieving, angry, or confused. I’ve officially come out as an emotional eater, tough to admit, and I know I am not the only one! Why is it so difficult to maintain the strict discipline I have had for so long when getting a small taste of freedom? It is really quite simple, it takes a lot less work to have no discipline. It is easy and I don’t feel like the consequences will ever catch up with me, until I get on the scale. Everyone’s nightmare, whether you choose to admit it or not, we all dread hopping on the scale and the numbers shifting up even one number. As I indulge in my pleasures, I tell myself it’s ok, I’ll just run harder next time! Seriously? That is such nonsense! I am going to eat this so I can work much harder the next time I choose to exercise my discipline.

I have begun to see the similarities in discipline in exercise and discipline in my spiritual life. The only way I can truly have discipline with my over indulgence in food is to truly recognize my God as El Shaddai, my All-Sufficient One. I know many who struggle with understanding this concept. I work, I make my money, I put food on my table, I put a roof over my head. ME! I do it all! Bottom line, it is because of God you have a job, are able to make money, can put food on your table and have a home. Trusting that He will take care of me is SO hard, especially being a chronic worrier.  When I become worried or emotional, I need to take it to Him, not to the refrigerator, or the bottle, or any other anesthetic that I may use in life to dull my emotions or to comfort me. Now that I know Him as my All-Sufficient One, I am desiring to take my problems to Him, and allow Him to bear my burdens for me. I know He can handle anything I throw His way, it is not like it will surprise Him in the least. Does this mean just because I have God on my side my life is all butterflies and roses? Absolutely not. It’s not easy, and I struggle every day. Every time my heart begins to race, and anxiety begins pumping through my veins, I want to reach for something fleshy, food, alcohol, anything other than my Bible. That is truly when I have to drop to my knees and pray.

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I pray that He will be enough for me in that moment, that He will hug my soul so I don’t feel as if my world is collapsing, that I will remember how perfectly loved I am. Sometimes I have victory over that instance, other days I am at the bottom of the barrel asking myself how I let it go this long. Regardless, He has grace, and  facing these trials shows me exactly where I need to go to find comfort. Something I tell myself before every long run, and have started to tell myself while facing trials in life “This is not going to be easy, I’m going to be uncomfortable, I am going to want to give up, but in the end it will all be worth it.”

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Having Faith

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Death. It’s something that has always frightened me. Just thinking of death has brought about tears, anxiety, hyperventilation, and my mind wanders into the “what ifs” of how my family will continue on without my existence. I’ve never been someone who could just be “at peace” with dying. I’m sure I am not the only one out there who wonders what it will be like. Will it hurt? Will I know I’m passing? Will I have a panic attack? Am I just freaking myself out thinking about this for absolutely no reason at all? Probably. I’ve been blessed thus far not experiencing much death in my family. My family members who have died have lived long and happy lives. Even our animals have lived far beyond what one would expect an animal to be capable of living. So why is the anxiety so present in my life regarding a topic that I should be secure in? Is my anxiety the result of my lack of faith in my Creator? These are questions I struggle with on a daily basis. I trust God, I know he has something planned, greater than my mind could ever imagine, but I still doubt. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, or that I don’t get scared of the unknown just because I am a Christian.

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A few days ago I was playing with my son on my bed. I would toss him gently on the bed, and he would jump from the bed into my arms. As he was jumping into my arms, it occurred to me, This boy knows without a shadow of a doubt that I will catch him. That’s it! He doesn’t say, You told me I couldn’t have a cookie the other day, so now I don’t trust you anymore. He doesn’t question why he should trust me, he just does. He knows that even though mommy can tell him no sometimes (for his own good of course), mommy will always be there to catch him when he jumps. So he does. He jumps with enthusiasm every time off of the bed. I want to have that kind of faith in my God. I know His character. He hasn’t answered my prayers in the past, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t for my own good. He was just telling me no, I have something better planned. If you jump, I will always catch you.

I’m going to be real, and honest. Death scares the pants off me. That being said, because it is something that I struggle with, it is something I need to face head on, and pray whole heartedly about. God has ordained EVERY SINGLE DAY for me. I won’t live one day less than He has planned, or one day more than He wrote in the book of life. He won’t rob me of my days, and he surely won’t rob me if He decides to call home a family member or friend sooner than I expected. Jesus Christ conquered death so that I don’t have to be afraid of what happens after I die. Even if the way I die is painful, scary, or terrifyingly inhumane, I must have faith that my Creator will be waiting for me on the other side, arms open wide. No amount of physical pain can compare to the glory I will experience in Heaven. I don’t have all the answers, but He does, and no matter how scared I may be, all I have to do is have faith!

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