God and Sexual Assault

Dealing with Anxiety

You are not alone.

Just when I think my anxiety is better I have a panic attack. Last night as I was trying to go to sleep my heart was racing, breathing shallow, and I felt like I was going to die.

I had to sit up, turn the light on, and breathe slow, deep breaths. I then began to pray for God to take it away, and for my mind to realize I was in a safe place.

It is common for night to bring about a panic attack for me. The darkness, and the bed lend themselves to feeling unsafe, scared, and sometimes down right terrified. It has taken me about 12 years to learn how to deal with anxiety the right way.

For years I tried to medicate it when it came upon me. (If that’s your route I do not judge, but I didn’t like the way my mind clouded on the medication.)

Now that I don’t take any medication for it, when I am anxious I know in my head that I need to slow my nervous system down by taking very slow, deep breaths. In and out for about 10 minutes. While I do this I look around with the light on and realize where I am and that I’m in 2020 and I’m 43, no longer a child or teenager.

When I begin to realize where I am and that I’m safe my mind begins to function again and then I am able to pray. I simply can’t when I’m in the middle of the attack. My mind just does not function, and from what I’m told by others who experience it that is common. You almost feel like you’re in a prison and can’t get out.

I used to think I just wasn’t taking the scripture to heart that told me not to be anxious or worry. That my faith simply was not strong enough, but that’s not true. Anxiety is very real and happens to us because of trauma we endured. It is a byproduct of it.

So, now that I know the truth I can more easily talk to God about how I feel when I’m anxious. I tell Him I feel like I could die and that it scares me when I can’t breathe. That I just want it to go away and never come back.

I realize God knows my body better than I do and why and how it’s reacting and that gives me great comfort. It opens the way for me to talk to Him more freely.

Many of us have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from sexual assault and it’s an anxiety disorder. It is common that we will experience anxiety. The variance of how bad it is will differ with each person, but just know that you are not alone in having it. Sometimes even our hormones being off balance can make us more anxious.

I pray that when you begin to feel anxiety you have worked out with your counselor how you can handle it when it arrives, because trust me it will. Having a plan on how to deal with it can make it seem more normal and safer when the anxiety comes on.

Finally, I encourage you to talk to God about it. Ask Him to help you when the anxiety comes on. Even if you think you’re alone when anxiety hits, know you are not. God is right there with you every minute of every day. He can hold you and comfort you.

As we all work to heal, I truly believe our anxiety and depression will get better. I also believe God can use our experiences to reach others who are dealing with similar struggles. May that be our prayer today.

God,

I don’t like having anxiety, but I understand why I do. Please help me when it hits me hard and clear my mind so I can work through the episode. Use my experiences to reach others with similar struggles so that they too can know they aren’t alone. May you ultimately receive the glory from my life.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

© 2020 Susan M. Clabaugh All Rights Reserved.

 

I am a former elementary school teacher and I am currently in the process of recovering from a childhood of sexual abuse and rape. I am pursuing God's will for my life right now which involves following various writing endeavors and working on some publishing. I feel God has led me to write this for my own healing, and to share with others who have been through the trauma of sexual assault.

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