If These Walls Could Talk

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

No Shame Zoloft Game

I got lost in a hotel when I was a little girl. In reality, it was probably only a few minutes, but that time of being separated from my family stamped me with anxiety with which I’ll likely always struggle. The racing heart, the light-headedness, the feeling of complete helplessness and lack of control over what is happening... It can be terrifying. But I’ve been on medication for years now and let me tell you, there ain’t no shame in my Zoloft game. 

As my parents helped guide me through coping and counseling with anxiety, we learned early on that I felt comfort in always having a plan since the unknown was a trigger. For example, in elementary school, between Meet the Teacher and the first day of school, Momma would take me to the school, and we would practice sitting in my desk and going to the gym, the cafeteria, the restroom and every other possible scenario to make sure I felt comfortable with a plan. As an adult, I am still very much a planner. I have become pretty detail oriented, and I create plans and backup plans when I can. But I’ve also experienced plenty of times when my plans have not worked, and you know what? It’s been ok. It all worked out as it should. I look back at times when the unknown was terrifying, and I have both peace and gratitude that I was not in control—God had it all along. 

My husband and I lived in Northwest Arkansas for several years after we got married. He was in law enforcement, and I was the director of a non-profit preschool. We were young; we were only parents to a 90-pound Boxer, and his shift-work sleep schedule was changing every eight weeks. One night he woke me to tell me he could not feel his left arm, and he was seeing dots in his vision. He had given it some time to go away on its own without success, and my strong, worry-less husband was officially panicked. Like I do in most situations, especially medical, I called Daddy for advice and he told me to rush him to the nearest Emergency Room. Long story short, my husband had experienced a TIA stroke. We were so young! Health scares of this level are not supposed to happen. What were we going to do? Was he going to be ok? Can you even imagine the anxiety? Several months later, his neurologist said he would never be released back to full duty and through that, God opened doors for us to move back home. Looking back, I am so grateful the plans we had made did not come to fruition. My husband has remained in great health as he has built a solid career in commercial development, and we are back home with our village, the one we never dreamt we would need.

I was home for the weekend before my senior year of college began, and I felt in my gut a nagging feeling to finish a semester early. It made little sense, as I had planned for my spring semester to be easy and full of fun with my friends and sisters in the Chi Omega house before we graduated. But this feeling would. not. go. away. The drive from Texarkana to Fayetteville was about four hours, so I started making some phone calls on my way back to school to see if it was even possible. By the time I arrived at the sorority house, I had made all the arrangements to graduate in December instead of May. It was bittersweet and a bit confusing at the time, although a few months later I knew I made the right choice by following the urge to get home. By finishing early, I was able to be home during my family’s toughest season that has now turned out to be our biggest blessing and ministry. I was exactly where I should have been.

One of my least favorite stories, but a fan favorite for many, is how I fainted during my wedding vows. It was not a falling faint good enough for a viral video, but my then un-medicated anxiety turned into a full-on panic attack. I was excited to marry my best friend and sitting in a chair for a portion of our beautiful ceremony was not what I had imagined. Twelve years later, we are still just as married, and I live my vows every day even though I technically didn’t say them all.

Momma’s breast cancer resulted in a double mastectomy, but she has been cancer free for almost eight years.

It took us a lot longer to get pregnant with our daughter than we initially hoped, and it is no secret at least one of The Brothers was not planned, but all three of them have been our best surprises yet. I cannot imagine how boring my days would be without those three. My home would be free of clutter and perfectly decorated. There wouldn’t be fingerprints on windows or ballet shoes and tee-ball caps on the floor or even forgotten milk cups turned moldy, hidden in my great-grandmother’s antique buffet cabinet. Are we tired? Absolutely. Does my gratitude for my plan being thrown into the trash outweigh the contentment I would have had if it had not? Heck. Yes.

Anxiety is a tricky little fella. The feelings can be overwhelming if I forget Who is in charge, because it’s certainly not me. God and His grace have led me all along and I know sometimes He wants to say, “Just sit down, Liz. Let me do my thing. I’ve got this.” Because He does. Let me also extend an invitation, y’all. I have come to terms with my struggle with anxiety and my responsibility to take care of myself, but it was not always easy. At one time, there WAS shame in my game. It was hard in the beginning. Let me be a friend if you need one. In fact, if you need a friend while your mother is going through breast cancer, your family is in the throes of addiction and recovery, you are pregnant with twins and scared,or your husband has a health scare, I will be your friend. None of those experiences were in my plan, but we made it through. It was not by any of my own doing. Hard times will happen, but God’s got this, y’all.


 

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