a little therapy session

anxiety has always been a part of my life “M-O” if you will….when i was little i was always worrying about something or another…..and its kinda a running joke in our family that i am always bouncing my leg or biting my nails with nervous energy….it’s been something that i have had to deal with over the years, however lately, it seems to have taken on a new avenue that’s super annoying….

about a year ago, i was a little nauseated on a flight we took to cancun, and ever since then i have had pretty intense anxiety about flying. not crashing, or anything like that, but more like ‘what if i get sick, there’s no where to go…i can’t get off the plane once we take off….’ i know in my head that it’s all mental and that i am not really sick (and i have NEVER been sick on a flight) but that anxious feeling is there and it’s hard to over come.

i do take a few natural anti-anxiety meds (not pharmaceuticals but some recommended from my natural pathologist) and those definitely help, but i just hate that feeling of not being able to “talk myself out it” or being a slave to my emotions in all things anxiety.  so here I sit, on my flight, trying this new way of overcoming my nerves. i am just going to talk (or type rather) through it. we’ll see how it goes. so far so good.

i guess looking at other areas of my life, my anxiety can be considered pretty consistently high….for example when i get my colonoscopies every two years, i have to be completely sedated (like knocked OUT) for it. most people can just be given some meds that put you into what they call “twilight” (sounds so luxurious, doesn’t it…) where basically you are awake but end up not caring about what’s happening. …..not with me. not at all.

the last time they tried to put me into ‘twilight’ i ended up being completely awake the entire time and bawling in pain. it was awful…..and  i’m not sure why this happens to me…i think maybe my anxiety is so high going into the procedure, that my body burns through the ‘twilight’ meds immediately? is that possible? otherwise i’m not sure why it doesn’t work for me…..so, after my last failed ‘twilight’ scope, i went straight to the receptionist and told her that next time, and from now on,  i needed to be completely sedated for my colonoscopy..she paused and stared back at me, and then, choosing her words very carefully, she said, quietly, “well….we usually reserve complete sedation for those patients who are…. (pause….pause….)…..mentally disabled…”…… to which, i leaned over the desk, and in my most serious voice replied, “you check…whatever box….you need to check…to make sure i am out cold next time…”  now, i can really laugh about this….still not sure what my chart actually says about my mental capacity, but i couldn’t care less. i am out cold for it, and couldn’t be happier……all things considered….TMI here, perhaps? sorry :)

my issue here is that i don’t want to have to always be thinking of ways to comfort and protect myself going into situations. i want to be able to just pack, go to the airport, and get on my flight without all the mental anguish and energy it is taking me now to get there. i just want to feel ‘normal’ about it all. but i am not there yet, and so here are some things i do to help myself through these moments..not sure if they are useful to anyone else, but they are to me so here you go:

i have been praying a lot about this lately, especially leading up to this flight…and not just the ‘ Lord please help me to not feel anxious’ prayers either. i mean, i do pray that, but i am also praying for clarity as to why i am feeling this way…where is this coming from…is it trust issues? fear?…i want to be honest with myself about what is going on, and i can’t do it alone. thank God for Jesus, that’s all I can say :)

something else that has really helped me, is honestly naming what i am feeling. like today on the flight, i kept repeating to myself, ‘i feel nervous’ NOT ‘i feel nauseated’ or ‘i feel sick…’ this helps me because i know i can overcome ‘nervous’. nervous is okay. it’s common and known (as opposed to the unknown feelings of ‘nauseated or sick’ or even anxious… those are  never ending roads of worry:  am i really going to be sick? how do i cope with that on a flight? is this going to be a full blown anxiety attack? …this leads to a lot more worry and potential problems for me….) so telling myself i am feeling something that i know i can overcome makes me feel better all around.  nervous. i can handle that. that’s not so bad..

also, i have to give myself options. this is the way i operate in all areas of my life. anxiety or not. this is how and why i over pack! i need to know that in any  given circumstance, i have options. for my flight, i can work on my blog, read my kindle, listen to music or watch movies. it helps to feel more in control. when i pack, i know whether its a “fat day” or a “thin day” (ladies you know what i mean..) i have outfits that i like……..keepin’ all options open.

but honestly, here is the rub: in all of this, i want to take control of an uncontrollable feeling or situation.  i hate that there are things in my life that i can’t predict or control. with my ulcerative colitis, i want to know when my symptoms will flare again…what causes it…and what i can do to stop it….i think this is why it’s always such a heavy mental blow when my symptoms flare up, because basically, i feel like i lost control.  same with my worries and anxieties. the things i worry about the most, family or loved ones dying, my ulcerative colitis, getting spontaneously sick, flying, etc… are all things that i have no control over…..

obviously, yes, there are things, especially concerning my health, that i can do to really help myself out. that’s why i see my natural pathologist (and love it!) and why i have seen such great results. but the fact that i have this disease is out of my control. and yes, there are things that i can and do do to help ease my anxiety, but the issue is still there. that control may never fully be gained. i want to cultivate a lifestyle and (most importantly) a relationship with the Lord where i can functionally be out of control. does that make sense?

so….kind of a therapy session in this post…..thanks for letting me be honest….any other tips on how you overcome your anxiety would be great! :) it takes a village, my people.

ps: we are about to land……we did it :)


  1. says

    Hey Leah – So interesting that you should write about this. I don’t think I have the worst case of anxiety compared to a lot of people, but I definitely struggle at times with feeling anxious even when I know it’s totally irrational or out of my control. The one thing I know is that it’s not just something you can tell to ‘go away’ or just stop thinking about. I had to explain to Kyle that a lot of times, being anxious is just a feeling, sometimes for no definable reason whatsoever. So, I can’t sit here & spew Bible verses that command us not to worry, etc. because it’s much more complicated than that — we know and desire to trust God in every circumstance. Just sometimes it is easier said than done. I have been praying a lot about it lately, too. For me, I hate that my mind even jumps to that first seed of fear that causes the anxiety. For instance, I get a cut & my mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario — getting a MRSA infection or something. I don’t necessarily always get anxiety and start fearing that I will get a MRSA infection, but I hate that my mind immediately imagines what COULD happen. It’s exhausting to have those things pop into your head all the time. (Like you said, you just want to pack, get ready, get on a plane and go without all those extra thoughts.) I have been praying that those tiny seeds of “worst case scenario” never enter my mind. Because, hit me at the right moment, and that thought could run wild with anxiety. I guess I don’t have much advice except to keep praying – especially at the moment the anxiety creeps in. I have found many times that while my thoughts are going crazy, He has stilled my mind instantly upon request. Anxiety truly is Satan’s way to roadblock our effectiveness as a Christ follower, wife, sister, friend, stranger, etc., and he does as stinkin’ good job at it sometimes.

    • says

      It’s so true, Mer. Honestly, i feel so out of control with it sometimes. it’s so hard to turn it off when the thoughts of ‘worst case scenario’ are blaring in my head.. it actually really helps me to know that other people have felt/do feel the same way i do….solidarity sister. :) i am completely the same way, too. i am “Worst Case Wanda” to the core. :) if my head hurts, it’s for sure a tumor. even happy things, like losing weight (lets just pretend that happens…) i instantly think…well what if i am losing weight because i am actually really sick?? i mean, these thoughts don’t last long, but, like you said, i hate that i even have them pass through my brain…..well..i am just about to get on the flight home, so i’ll let you know how it goes. love you!

  2. says

    Great and honest post. Sometimes, when I’m anxious, just listening helps. Especially if nobody is talking. Don’t think, just listen. The AC, some relaxing music, the dishwasher, the wind, the birds, anything. Thoughts will inevitable try to jump in and distract you. Just say to them, “Later. Not now. I’ll think about you in fifteen minutes.” Just keep listening. That may not help you at all, but it helps me sometimes. Just a thought.

  3. Hannah Kiemele says

    Oh my goodness, I am just catching up today! First of all, love you! Second of all, we are SO related! I get the same exact way when I fly! What are the natural things you take for flying anxiety?? ALSO, I had an “exam” the other month and I woke up in the middle of it too!!! I could see AND feel everything that was happening! I definitely was not in my “twilight” stage either…. I will be praying for you!
    Besides taking anti-anxiety pills for flying, and making sure im on anesthesia for my next “exam”, I think something that has really helped me is doing things that make me nervous, alone. Since I always would freak out flying, I would try to face that alone so I had no one to freak out to… Once I started getting a grasp on why I was freaking out (was it because I was nervous? Or did I want the reassurance from someone else that everything was fine?) That helps sometimes (probably because I do a lot of things alone…) but I definitely still need to take anxiety pills when I fly!
    Anyway, so interesting that we are so alike :) Love you!

    • says

      i love that we are family! :) no one in life quite understands me like family does :)

      i can’t remember the name of the herbal remedy i use for my anxiety…it’s through my naturopath doctor…i’ll let you know as soon as i find it :)

      oh sister i am with you and feel so bad for you with your exam. it’s seriously the worst thing ever. :( i hope everything turned out okay!
      i really appreciate your advice on facing these things alone. i think there is so much merit to that. it’s so (and too) easy sometimes to rely and then feel like i NEED to have someone with me….i need to of course remember that Jesus always is :)
      love you hannah banana! come and visit us soon!!!!

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