Updated: Nov 4, 2018
In 1994 I was right out of college and living in Atlanta, Georgia. I shared an apartment with my best friend and we were living in our city of choice. I loved my job as an Editorial Administrative Assistant at Shore-Varrone Inc., a magazine publishing company. I loved that I was learning about the publishing industry. I felt like I was one step closer to fulfilling my dream of publishing my very own magazine for teen girls.
It should have been a great time for me, and in many ways it was, however, I lived under a cloud of fear. I had been diagnosed with panic attacks and anxiety disorder. Most nights, I had nightmares and would awake in a mad state of panic. My dreams felt so real that I had a tough time determining what was real and what wasn't. The dreams would set the tone for my days, which were filled with fear; fear of me being destroyed just because I chose to leave the house. I was afraid to drive long distances, I was afraid to fly, I was afraid to leave the safety of my apartment, but I was scared to be there alone too. My wonderful new life in an up and coming city that had so much to offer had been severely limited by my fears.
At it's worse, anxiety had such a grip on me that I couldn't get on the highway to drive to work. Once, there was a storm and I was afraid to get into the car with friends who were driving from Atlanta to Louisville for my very good friend's wedding. I allowed fear to cause me to miss such a special time in her life.
I finally decided that I had to do something, so I made an appointment with a psychiatrist, who wanted to put me on medication. Medication was not for me, so I kept looking until I ran across a psychologist who taught me about the chatterbox (I call the chatterbox the adversary), and how the chatterbox throws out negative suggestions about life and how you don't measure up, and what your limitations are. I immediately identified the chatterbox in my life. Then he helped me to understand that my brain is like a file cabinet and that in each situation I find myself in (good or bad), I choose a file to determine how to react. In the cases of situations that I perceive as having the potential to be harmful, I reach back to the file that reminds me to panic, my body follows suite, my mind agrees, and I panic more and the anxiety is solidified.
The understanding of this information caused a shift for me, and lead me on a journey that has allowed me to empower my life. I have since gained more understand that has forever changed my relationship with anxiety. I now know that I am a spirit who resides in a body and that the suggestions from the adversary may be there, but it is my choice to receive them. I choose to ignore the negative suggestions.
I now understand the chemical relationship between food and mental illness. I have unlearned eating practices from my childhood, but it all began with understanding the affect that gluten had on my nervous system. I no longer eat anything with gluten. That along was life changing. I have now embraced a new way of eating to nourish my whole body, instead of feeding my emotions or nostalgic promptings.
I will never be able to control the things that happen in life, but the one thing that I can control is how I react. I find power in that. I am in control of my thought process and what I choose to accept as my reality is what is. I speak positive words of affirmation over my life. I choose to be filled and surrounded by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. I choose to speak life into my existence, and not death. I choose to believe that I live in the finished works of Jesus Christ, and therefore abundance life is mine for the taking. I choose to live life abundantly.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.