The following is the first in a series on how I overcame a life-long struggle with anxiety. It is my desire that in going public with my story others will find hope and strength to overcome. You are not alone.
The Pains started when I was 8. Being the overly-analytical, hypochondriac child that I was, I’m not surprised my parents chose to tell me it was just growing pains and not to worry about it. But how I wished I could have traded in all those moments worrying I had fatal heart disease for a good night’s rest.
I continued to have random bouts of chest pain through my teens and 20’s, including episodes where the pain was so sharp I couldn’t catch my breath.
I tried to tell myself there was nothing truly wrong, that it would pass, and it did. But in the back of my mind I wondered and worried. Living on the Homestead with no insurance and rarely a spare penny, there as no way we could have gone in for testing. After all, I was perfectly fine 98% of the time. I could not reproduce the pain, nor point to anything that triggered it. But it was very real when did hit me.
I got married at 23, had my first child the next year, and finally felt like I’d entered adulthood. I had an awesome husband and a marriage better than I could have dreamed. But deep down, underneath the surface, I was more insecure than ever, and under extreme stress. Especially since the chest pains had continued into my adult life. These weren’t growing pains anymore, and they seemed to be getting worse. There were times during the day when I would have to lay down on the couch and do nothing but concentrate on breathing as the pain wrapped around my chest like a vice, stabbing me when I tried to take the slightest breath. It seemed worse at night, and then I would cry in fear in my husband’s arms, asking him to pray for me as I tried to block out the thoughts of death and leaving my baby motherless.
Finally one day it was too much – the fear, the pain, and the not knowing. I had been on the couch all morning. Jeremy came home early from work and decided we could no longer afford to wonder what was wrong with me, and since the pain was the worst it had been, he felt it warranted a trip to the ER.
It was a chilly day in February as we dropped of our 6 month old at Grandma’s and my husband drove me to the hospital for the first time in my life. I tried to relax, having figured out by now that the worry seemed to make the pain worse. I was afraid – afraid to leave my baby, afraid to go to the hospital, afraid to find out the truth behind my condition.
I needn’t have worried. Three hours later, after an EKG, a chest X-ray, and one other test I can’t remember, we had our answer. The two doctors (on on call, one consulting) came to my bedside and said simply –
The tests had ruled out heart or lung disease and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with me physically. They told me to take aspirin every 3 hours, up to 8 doses a day, according to package instructions.
And that was that. We headed home – relieved yet frustrated. Was it better to wonder what was wrong with you before or after a battery of tests had told you nothing was wrong with you?
Thankfully, the answer was just around the corner…
I feel my victory is upon me.. However, I have been plagued with anxiety for reasons I did not know.. Every day it seemed as though my anxiety told me something else I couldn’t do.. I’m acceoting and believing I am healed in the name of Jesus.. Thank You Lord for my healing.
Please pray for me..
I too have two children that I love with all my heart.. School is beginning
Diana, I am praying for you today!
Angela Erickson says
I would love prayer, I have had anxiety several times in the last 20yrs, starting with my mom dieing at 15 of cancer, I am now 38 a single mom of 4 kids, 3 boys, 1 girl I Trust in the Lord and have prayed for deliverance yet still have these bouts with anxiety and attacks, Im so frustrated and over it, I pray constantly and give it to God and beg him to deliver me. Prayers would be greatly appreciated
I have been praying for you, Angela.
wow, bentley – the description does sound familiar. It's nice to hear that though it's mistaken for a heart attack, it's not nearly as serious! I'm so glad I rarely experience this any more!
Costochondritis. It's real, comes and goes randomly, is extremely painful and matches your description to the letter. Might want to look into it.
I too have struggled with anxiety. It seems to be a root in my family. A generational curse, especially in the women in my family. Fear gets a grip on my mind, and then my heart, and then my soul, and I am rendered totally helpless. It is truly the most awful feeling I have experienced. I am very much looking forward to your follow-up post on this subject.
Trina, I suffered from anxiety disorder for all of my adolescence in well into adulthood, in fact I still have moments when the old fears creep in. I found release in my Savior when I met and fell in love with Jesus. I praise God that you, also, have found healing!
How wonderful for you to be willing to be so vulnerable and transparent, to offer hope to those still suffering today. May God bless your efforts and may He lead those who need to hear this message to your blog for comfort and reassurance that they don't have to live like that.
Elisabeth Allen says
Wow, Trina, I think you're incredibly brave to share so honestly (and, thus, vulnerably). I've never experienced pain as bad as you describe, but … let's say I can relate. I eagerly anticipate hearing the rest of your story. Thank you for being willing to share for our encouragement. Blessings!
matt and shell says
wow. Even reading this I tremble… the feelings are so real. you totally pin-pointed the main point of my fears. If I die… I leave my baby and husband alone. that puts unbelievable amount of fear in me. To much to even imagine.
While I've never had major issues with anxiety, I do know the fear that comes with with having symptoms that seem to have no cause (in my case leg pain and gradually worsening chronic fatigue). My parents blew the leg pains off as growing pains when I was in my teens(so I kind smiled/winced at that part of your story). But when they were still there, and worse when I reached my twenties I knew something was wrong. I'm still not sure I have a logical explanation for them, despite multiple tests by several doctors.
Looking forward to the rest of your story.
Trina, it takes a lot of guts to be so vulnerable about such a struggle in your life. I'm interested to hear the whole story, and know that God is going to use what you went through to bless and encourage others.
I struggled with anxiety and worry quite a bit in the early years of our marriage (partially resulting in terribly high blood pressure), but God has really helped me in this area, not only through His word (I John 4:18 being a favourite), but especially through my husband's prayers.
Laura and Catherine, thank you so much for sharing your stories. Though the worst is behind me now, it is still a boon knowing I'm not the only one who has gone through this.
Laura – I do believe these kinds of issues can be triggered by a host of factors – I address that in part 4. 🙂 (Yes, for once I am organized and have this whole series written up in advance!)
I had something similar during a period when I was living alone (which clearly wasn't for me, but I didn't have much choice at the time). It was diagnosed as heartburn, then when it didn't go away I was sent to a gastroenterologist… who found absolutely nothing wrong (I was in France, and the healthcare system is radically different to that in the US). By that point, though, I was reaching the end of the period of living on my own, and everything suddenly got better once I was back living with other humans!
Wow, I went through something very similar this past spring. I had a nasty cold that lasted for several weeks, and a week or so after I recovered I suddenly took to bed with a host of strange symptoms. I was convinced I had a virus or infection of some kind, but a trip to the doctor revealed nothing in particular that could be pinpointed as “wrong” with me. Yet my symptoms continued! This lasted for several months. Finally, in July and August I started feeling more myself again. In retrospect, the best I can come up with is that it was a mixture of stress, anxiety, depression, and low vitamin D levels. It was certainly hard not to be anxious and fearful about inexplicable physical symptoms. I'd never had anything like that happen to me before. In a way it's been a blessing because I am learning not to be controlled by “not feeling well” — knowing that it will pass and I'm not going to die from it!! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I look forward to reading the rest of your story!