It is curious how this feeling of courage and confidence seems to be seated, not in our brain, but in our middle. This is a good place to feel it- it adds strength to our backbone.”
-Dr. Claire Weekes
A small book landed in my hands when Kevin and I went to Texas for two nights of worship, a few months ago.
It was given to me by a woman whom I had never met. She had seen me stand up the first night, when Pastor Tommy had invited those of us struggling with fear to rise to our feet so that the church could gather around us and pray. She handed it to me with a hug and a smile, and told me I needed to read it.
It was a book that at least 3 people had recommended in the past. A book called “Hope And Help For Your Nerves“, that I just never got around to buying because I’m not a big reader (especially when I’m anxious), and “how could a BOOK help me with MY kind of anxiety?“.
But it DID, and I just couldn’t let one more day go by without telling you about it.
I *almost* didn’t go to Texas.
I *almost* didn’t stand up that first night.
I *almost* didn’t read the book even when it landed in my hands. For weeks, it sat on my bedside table…it’s unopened cover, collecting dust with each passing day.
Fear *almost* prevented me from doing all of those (and so many other) things.
I realize full recovery may take more time, which is fine, now that I understand what is happening and how to float through it.
I know why I started sitting in the back row at church. I know why I would repeatedly check my pulse.
I know why it sometimes feels like I have a lump in my throat. I know why my stomach sometimes churns. I know why I sometimes feel off-balance.
I know why, in an anxious “season”, I feel like a cork bobbing up and down in a stream at the mercy of every passing current. I know why my body sometimes feels like a Pandora’s Box, full of unpleasant surprises that keep me dreading what *might* appear next. I know why, in those seasons, my horizon is sometimes bound by my front door.
I know why I spent so much (too much) time searching for deep-seated causes.
I could go on and on, but more important than why, I want you to know that all of those (and so many other) issues were no longer mountain-sized issues by the time I got done reading about them. They just sort of “melted back”…as in backwards. Still around, but behind me- not RIGHT in front of me EVERY day. And after four shaky months, I am finally starting to feel like myself again.
I’m not saying my nerves are fully desensitized (they’ve been sensitized for years, so I’ve got some major re-training to do), but I’m back in the front row at church, and I don’t even think about checking my pulse anymore. The lump in my throat still pops up from time time, and my stomach still starts to churn when I’m stressed, but those feelings vanish much quicker than they used to, and they don’t ever escalate into panic now.
The book was written by Dr. Claire Weekes (1903-1990), and her method was so highly regarded that she was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1989.
She got it. Like, really really got it. I underlined something on almost every single page.
If you struggle with (or know someone who struggles with) panic and/or anxiety, please don’t wait for it to land in your hand like I did. Reaching for support doesn’t have to feel like grasping at cotton candy. I’ve worried my way through many anxious seasons throughout the past 10 years, and I have no doubt that book was Heaven-sent.
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