In this blog I am sharing a personal struggle I dealt with today that I believe will relate to many of you out there.
To shoot to the point, I basically had a huge panic attack – or at least that’s what it felt like.
The day started off pretty normal, nothing was off or bad about the day.
Part of my normal as a mom, at least in my house, includes many days where I have to navigate various behavior struggles with the kids. To give my kids credit, they are fantastic kids and generally speaking, they are very respectful, kind and helpful children. But like any child, (or adult!), they absolutely have their whining, complaining, interrupting, and just fussy attitudes at times. Today was one of those, almost across the board in a matter of about one to two hours solid. It just felt like one of those days that no matter what I did to offer help was a total fail. When I am at my best, I handle these moments with grace, patience, and love. Today, I didn’t use any of those. Today, I freaked out, and when I say I freaked out, I mean I snapped and screamed, “AHHH!”
I have no idea what happened to get me to the point of completely losing control of myself and just screaming at the top of my lungs. It hurt my throat after actually. My kids were scared and started crying. I felt like a massive failure. I started the day cuddling with my son, helping my daughter sow a pillow for one of her projects, and making breakfast.
Somehow along the way, through small instances of whining, complaining, and talking over each other, I began feeling incredibly overwhelmed and ultimately, like it was my fault. I started taking everything personally. It’s so bad when we take our kid’s frustrations personal. I know they aren’t “out to get me.” That thought is even ridiculous to think really. But in this moment, I felt like a total failure. I couldn’t do anything right to help anyone, so I began the shame game – feeling like an even worse failure – quite the double negative.
I am not proud to be sharing any of this in my blog tonight. But I have a hunch I am nowhere near the only Mama who “loses her cool,” on occasion. I have another hunch that I am not the only individual who struggles with anxiety and panic be it from a mental health diagnosis or just under pressure. For me, this was way out of the norm. I have anxious thoughts on occasion, but full-blown panic and feeling like I can’t catch my breath, overwhelmed to the point of a complete freak out where I felt I had no control of myself – this was not a normal experience for me at all. I truly had to stop and catch my breath and start some major self-reflection to see what was going on. Where was this coming from? Sure, I was upset about the more than necessary complaining from the morning, but nothing to warrant my response towards them at all.
I take medication for ADD and I missed several days because I didn’t get my prescription refilled on time -ha - the irony! I am certain this played a factor in my panic this morning. But ultimately, though medication helps me alongside of self-reflection and a healthy dose of counseling, I knew I needed to take a few minutes in silence and go to the Lord in prayer. I needed to turn my attention off my fear and back to Jesus. My entire attention of the morning was wrapped up in the few arguments that took place with me and my kids. On top of that, I was getting the house clean and ready for our small group gathering we were having for the evening. And on top of that, I was trying to listen to church online since we decided to stay home to prepare to host for the evening.
We host in our home often and I always like to have a clean house, but we truly host so often that I am long past the idea that everything needs to be perfect before friends arrive. I do want the “stuff” put away and the counters clean, but I don’t bother to do a full vacuum and mop anymore because it’s all about to be trampled anyhow! Ha! So, I knew the pressure of hosting was part of it, but not enough to take it this far because I love hosting, I love having friends over, and it’s a regular thing that doesn’t lead me to panic or major pressure. What I needed in this moment was a Jesus intervention and there was no other coming out of this panic mode than the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
I sent my kids to their rooms to calm down and I went to my room to calm down and pray. I knelt on the floor in my closet and just held my hands up in the air. I prayed for God to forgive me for yelling, to forgive me for being so selfish and taking the events of the morning so personally, for speaking down on my kids and making them feel bad. I prayed God to take away my fears and my anxiety. I prayed against the devil and his lies. I wanted to be able to be loving and kind and offer a safe, welcoming environment for my friends to come to. I prayed that I would be able to offer my friends love and to welcome them well. I didn’t want to be a frantic mess and put my negativity on them (though I know they are there for me when I need to share, I didn’t want to be in panic and negativity while hosting – I prefer to have share time over coffee!)
As I sat there praying and sitting in silence with the Lord, I was reminded of last week’s sermon at church in Matthew 6:27 that reads, “Who by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” And in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” My fears were brought to peace, my anxiety brought to calm, and I thanked God for meeting me in my panic.
I chose to release it all to Him.
Our feelings don't always subside immediately, but we do have a choice in what we do with our feelings. We can hang on to them and obsess over them as they metastasize, or we can quickly release them to Jesus - with intentionality and choice.
As a professional counselor, a mom, and an individual who struggles with my own mental health issues, I am a major advocate for mental health. But it doesn’t just stop there. Taking care of our mental health often includes therapy and potentially medication or naturopathic options for medicine. Many people are knowledgeable enough to know and agree that your physical health affects your mental health, and vice versa. You may not be surprised if you see a counselor and they ask you how you are eating and sleeping – how do you practice self-care? These are asked of you because they affect your mental health greatly.
The way we take care of our body absolutely affects our mind and our overall mental health. And yet, we can’t stop there either. One of the biggest barriers I have seen to people coming to freedom or greater success in their mental health goals is when there is a lack of interest or a refusal to find spiritual health. As a human being, we are a whole person, and as such we should treat our whole self: mind, body and soul. So many people are treating their mind and body and neglecting to care for their soul – and then they wander why nothing is changing, or why they are still battling the same issues.
As a counselor, I do not tell anyone who or what they are to believe in. That is up to each individual to choose for themselves. But as a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, I would be remiss if I did not emphasize the importance of including God in your journey to freedom. I could tell you that I overcame my panic attack this morning because of my well-versed skillset in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. No doubt, the tools in my therapeutic belt are strong and I know how to use them under pressure. But used alone, I will fail. And no matter how great my toolbelt I had this morning, I failed miserably.
I share this story with you to tell you that what brought me to my calm today was Jesus. There is strength in therapy, there is strength in taking care of your body, but the strength we have in Jesus is incomparable to anything else. There is nothing He cannot do. There is nothing He cannot help us through.
I’m not here to tell you that if you choose to believe in Jesus, all your problems will disappear, and you’ll be freely frolicking through life. Not by a long shot. I am sharing with you that as a counselor, and a Mama who gets it, and a person who struggles with mental health issues – I need Jesus, every day, every hour, every moment – or I go back to relying on myself where I am prone to fail and prone to fear. In Jesus, I am set free, strengthened, reminded of who’s I am, who’s strength I stand in, and who I rely on. In Jesus, I am an overcomer. In Jesus, my fears get small because He is big. In Him, I can rest my anxiety, my panic and my fears, because He has promised me I can cast my cares and my worries upon Him.
I choose to believe Him. I choose to surrender control of my life to the one who offers me hope, restoration, peace and to the one who breathes life. I do not ever want to force anyone into a decision, but I think my Pastor said it best last Sunday: “Would you consider Jesus today? You may still have doubts, but perhaps - consider faith over doubt. Would you choose to believe in Jesus?”
The next time you are battling anxiety, panic, fear, every-day mom-life, under pressure at work, invite Jesus into your situation and ask Him to do the impossible. Ask Him to take your fear, anxiety, panic, worry, stress. Ask Him to move mountains. Ask Him to give you faith to believe that He CAN do what He says He can do. Then believe for it. Choose to radiate positivity and accept the glorious richness and freedom that Jesus has to offer. It makes us doubt because it seems so illogical to just ask the Savior, the creator of the universe to help us – rather than to control it on our own. We are so programmed to do it ourselves. Don’t go it alone any longer. Keep up with your mental health counselor or psychiatrist, keep going to the gym or seeing your nutritionist – or whatever you are doing that is working for you – keep doing it if it is feeding positivity and health into your life. But don’t miss out on inviting Jesus on the ride to help you through it all.
Remember, it is a choice you have to make. He won’t just step in and take your fear if you don’t ask Him. I’ve heard so many people tell me in one way or another that “God doesn’t really work for them.” But when I ask if they talk to Him or read His word, I hear crickets. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t have a relationship with people that don’t ever speak to me. It amazes me how many people dismiss God without actually ever giving Him a chance. Maybe someone else who has claimed to be a Christian has steered you wrong, or even hurt you – and that bad experience tainted your view of God. But – let’s be honest- that’s also not fair. If you don’t like someone in my family – I still deserve a chance, right?
For me, I love going to CrossFit for the comradery and the ICT workouts. I love my counselor I now see on more of an as-needed basis, but there are seasons when I see her more regularly. I love my doctor. I hate going to the dentist, but I do love the people and dentist where I go. I love my friends and my family. I love all the things in my life that help me on my mental and physical health journey. But more than any of it, I love my Jesus over all else. In my darkest, scariest, loneliest times – it is He who was with me, He who saved me, He who has given me strength and peace. Oh, how I desire that for you if you don’t know Him!
Take care of all of you: Body, Mind AND Soul!
Won’t you consider Jesus? I pray you will!
Hey, if you are considering my Jesus – please reach out and let me know! I would love nothing more than to hear that my horrible, awful, no-good morning led to someone considering to follow Jesus! Ya’ll, He can take my yuck and turn it into beauty! Everything I mess up, He still turns around and uses for good. Reach out, I’d love to chat with you, answer your questions, and let you know about my awesome God!
Be blessed sisters and brothers,
Your beloved sister in Christ,
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
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