my bum thumbs – and my panic disorder too: a belated world mental health day post

In case you missed it, this past Tuesday was World Mental Health Day:

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I intended to post about it on that day but it actually has worked out in that the post I was meant to write could only come today – I’ll explain shortly – so, for now, we’ll just call this Spoonie Standard Time (always running a bit behind) and move on. 😉

As most of you know, I’ve been recently fighting a seemingly uphill battle with my autoimmune disease. I still have fractures in the same bone in both of my feet due to long term prednisone therapy and I haven’t been able to get my disease process under control.

My ankles, knees, and hips have been particularly terrible.

And I always have “hand issues,” including being unable to open jars and hands that don’t want to write without my special fat arthritis pens (so I keep them everywhere – and, of course, they cost $17 a piece #fixitjesus):

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Well, today, both of my thumbs are throbbing in a way they haven’t before – so a new type of “hand involvement.” And the Raynaud’s symptoms of my fingers turning blue and numb decided to visit abruptly as well.

Awesome I say.

And then, after I had scratched out a makeshift outline for this post so I wouldn’t forget what I wanted to say when the house was quiet, I was walking from our bedroom to the kitchen to get a treat for our three “big dogs” who have their own room down the hall when I felt a sudden snap on the other side of my left foot.


I’m just gonna leave that there for now (because I’m not quite ready to load up and go address it until later today – but aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!).

While all that’s been happening, our kids have been having some serious goings on as well:

  • My son called from school one day last week begging to be picked up – which he has never done – because they were on lockdown due to a threat of a shooting. It took two hours to be able to pick him up and was just a difficult situation. I am so grateful that everyone at the school was safe though.
  • A few nights later, I had to rush him to the emergency room with some really frightening sudden onset headache symptoms (he’s never had a headache in his life) that, thankfully, turned out to be a first migraine.  It was terrifying for awhile though.
  • Our youngest daughter was out of school for two WEEKS with serious GI issues related to her celiac disease and new food allergies.
  • Our oldest daughter has an SMI (serious mental illness) diagnosis and she is home with me right now. It is incredibly trying to manage at times, and, honestly, I can feel my physical symptoms respond almost immediately to difficulty with her.

I write all of this first to say that such stress is enough to bring on anxiety in anyone – and all the more in someone who already has anxiety and panic disorder.

For years, I said that I “had panic attacks when I was teenager but I outgrew them.”

But then this beautiful thing happened in my life:

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And when I put down the wine at the same time my health was worsening and I had to stop working, I realized I had simply been self-medicating my anxiety disorder and it was actually right where I left it.

So I had to learn to deal with it.

Earlier this evening (Wednesday), my son went to the youth group he attends at a different church than mine – which is totally fine with me, I am glad he wants to go to church – and came home with quite the report about the “lesson” on mental health.

In addition to trivializing the causes of suicide (which I WILL be addressing – so scary and inappropriate with the teen suicide rate being what it is), the teacher told them essentially that depression and other mental health issues can be “prayed away.”

And, honestly, my knee jerk reaction was to get on the phone and light somebody up. But I didn’t (though I will also address the dangerous side of that teaching to teenagers later as well).

Instead, I decided to share the little bit I personally know:

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I believe this. And I do believe in the power of prayer.

And, especially in times of anxiety, I breathe and pray, pray, pray.

And in my experience, God’s perfect love has cast out my fear in many ways:

  • He sent a doctor who really “saw” me and what I was experiencing, understood why I didn’t want to take the standard benzodiazapene prescription for panic attacks (they are highly addictive and act on the same part of the brain as alcohol so they are particularly no bueno for us #teetotalers), and instead suggested a service dog. Can we say Henry Herring? I fuss over him all the time but I honestly can’t express how much he truly helps me as my support dog.
  • He sent a campus of our church that is ten minutes from our home. Being able to be a part of church – online is wonderful but it isn’t the same – is such a blessing to me now.
  • He sent my Young Living family. Not only do my oils help me tremendously, the amazing tribe I’ve found has been the biggest blessing.
  • He sent my medication, Cymbalta, that helps my body pain, as well as my anxiety disorder but is not a narcotic and is in no way addictive.

And then there was another thing today:

I am still in school to be an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (I’ve actually just passed the point in my program where I can begin seeing clients) and it’s frequently recommended that we have our own health coach for awhile during school. And it makes sense – but I am currently at home, unable to work as a nurse, with RA and two broken feet, so that really isn’t in the budget at the moment.

Still, I was ready for a bigger overhaul of my health situation and I just finished The Daniel Plan book yesterday morning.

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Sara and I are going to do it together and swim for our exercise. We scheduled our days and made a plan but we were still missing community.

Somehow, on Insta, I came across a wonderful group of ladies with a health coach with tons of experience who was leading a free Daniel Plan group and coaching the members through it as a ministry. And yesterday was Day One.

I’m so serious.

An amazing unexpected blessing.❤️

(If anyone else has been praying for the same, here is our group: )

So, yes, I do believe prayer helps in treating mental illness.

And I also believe God uses doctors and meds and behavioral therapy and Lavender and yoga and deep breathing and inpatient stays if they are indicated and walks outside and pints of almond milk Ben and Jerry’s and Valor EO and books and friends and family and massage therapy and long drives with music blasting and little weenie dogs named Henry.

There is no simple answer.

These are tough illnesses with tough causes and tough treatments.

But perfect Love does cast out fear.

We just have to hang on and pray and take all the help that He has given us.

mhd 3Be well, everybody.

Love and light – and almond milk Ben and Jerry’s, if you can find it. ❤️💜💙💛💚

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