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Written by Monica Larcom for http://www.gracemusing.com
Original post @ http://gracemusing.com/2016/01/10/how-to-deal-with-anxiety-attack-if-you-have-a-stressful-job/
Prayer can be a fantastic way to deal with fear and anxiety attacks. After all Paul advised, inspired by the Holy Spirit (Philippians 4:6), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
So, why is it that 40 million American adults have anxiety disorders, the numbers don’t favor of Christians either?
Most often, the problem is that believers think being a Christian make one immune from illogical fears. We remember all the scriptures Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.”
On top of that, few Christians own up to depression or any anxiety disorder because they are afraid of being marginalized or looked down upon. As a result, prayer becomes a tool of concealing a problem rather than for allowing God to reveal himself in spite of our problems.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can deal with anxiety attacks, panic attacks, fear and depression in general.
We’ll look at specific steps that you can attend to, and how you can experience God’s grace through each step. Please note, these steps are not in any order and are not prerequisites for your peace. They are merely road signs only good for ensuring you reach your destination safely.
Step 1. Admit You Have a Problem
It is difficult to live a life legitimately, vulnerably, fully dedicated to God.
I’m afraid I fail miserably at it most of the time. But I’m learning that failure is not necessarily a bad thing.
If there is one thing I have been taught the last few months, it is that God is glorified through weakness and our own failures, and that Christ’s grace burns so much brighter when we throw all our trust on him.
I was recently reading Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. In it he describes the moment he realized that nothing in his life required him to trust God. His life was perfectly ordered as he saw fit; there were no cracks to fill in with trust, no chinks for grace to seep into.
A few months ago, after beginning a stressful teaching job, the cracks in my own strength began to widen. I started the job with high hopes and the certainty that God wanted me in this position; two months later, I found myself utterly overwhelmed and dreading every day of work.
I began to have insomnia, waking up at two or three in the morning, ticking away the hours in dread until I would have to face another class at 8:00 AM. I lost my appetite, and considerable weight from the stress.
The anxiety attacks I last had many years ago encroached back like an unwanted raccoon. I fought waves of tears, coupled by breathlessness and a sense of impending doom. The typical signs of an anxiety attack.
Step 2. Pray with Beloved Ones
My parents’ morning prayers eased the fears and anxiety a bit. I am grateful for prayerful parents. I think prayerful parents and loved ones should be on top of any how to deal with anxiety list.
But then, another morning Mom found me on the couch, in a fetal position, sobbing. Again, they prayed for their little one, but unlike other mornings it did not break me out of the panic attack. I couldn’t make it into the car to drive to work. I called in sick (again), because of my anxiety.
I felt broken, and so ashamed.
If God was with me, then why wouldn’t he take this anxiety away? Why would I struggle so much to face a group of teenagers? Why couldn’t I defeat this thing? I grew angry. The depression I’d been feeling grew worse. I didn’t understand why God would give me such utter peace about this job and then send me suffering and panic and anxiety.
Step 3. Consult Trusted Christian Professionals
I finally admitted I needed help. I went to see my doctor. She is a wonderful Christian lady who listened as I told her (embarrassingly crying the whole time; I must have used the entire box of Kleenex in the room). She told me something that I had not wanted to hear, but needed to.
“I think you’re a perfectionist, Monica, and you don’t know how to deal with failure.”
I nodded, knowing this, but not realizing the full implications at the time. She prayed with me, and prescribed me some anti-anxiety medicine, and recommended counseling.
Step 4. Embrace God’s Abounding Grace
I spent the next couple days wondering what to do. I talked with my friends, family and pastor. I wanted to quit my job, but something kept me from doing so. I decided to trust in the peace that I’d felt going into the job. I decided to trust God. I thought I’d try and make it until the end of the semester. I ended up negotiating my teaching schedule so I was teaching 4 days a week instead of 5 to release some stress from my schedule.
I still had panic attacks, and I still woke up incredibly early in the morning. But instead of spending that time worrying and agonizing about the sleep I was missing and the day ahead, I started to spend more and more of it on my knees, forehead pressed into the carpet, crying out for comfort and direction from God.
He answered. He heard my calls, and spent those mornings with me, whether I was joyful in his presence or fearful of the day.
Step 5. Walk in Christ’s Peace
My days at work started changing. I felt more connected to my students. I started understanding how I could better motivate them. I had a behavioral specialist come into my class to observe, who then told me she thought I was doing a great job in the environment. What I’d thought were horrible efforts on my part to be a good teacher were in reality better than good.
I realized how skewed my perfectionism had made me. Instead of looking at all the things that were going well in the classroom, I was dwelling on every minute thing that I or my students did wrong.
Just about a month ago, I prayed a prayer that I never thought I would have even just a few weeks before.
“God, thank you for my anxiety. I know it has been horrible, and debilitating, but I thank you for it. It has taught me to cling to you more tightly and to not rely on my own strength but on your love and strength. You have shown me that you are strong in my weakness.”
Step 6. Learn God’s goodness in the anxiety
As I write this, I am in a very busy coffee shop. I took my anti-anxiety medicine today because otherwise I would be hiding out in my car; there is too much noise and I didn’t get enough sleep last night. But I am still grateful for my anxiety. It has taught me the importance of prayer and praise even when everything around you is failing and telling you that you have nothing to be grateful for.
My anxiety has forced me to be more honest with those I love about my mental state of being. It has forced me to be more vulnerable with people and more open with my weaknesses. It has made me a naked Christian. I have not enjoyed the process all the time, but anxiety has taught me to trust more to Christ. I have been pulled and stretched, until I thought I would break; but the fractures that formed were filled with the Grace of Christ.
And if I must be broken to be filled with more of his grace, that is exactly what I will be.