Guest Post – What If I’m Meant To Fly! – Part I
A post from my wife Anne Jolly sharing about a struggle in her life. I hope this will help you and give you hope
I am so reluctant to post all this for all the world to see. But to be brutally honest, as I will try to be here, I am feeling so moved to tell this story that I can barely stop myself. Talk about God’s promptings, I guess that this might be what it feels like to be shoved by God.
If you know me well, you might have heard me casually say something like, “I don’t fly.” This might have been said to explain why I am skipping a trip to Ecuador with my husband, Steve, or why we’re driving to see family in Oregon. You might have heard me say, “I’m not a good patient,” to try and explain why I cry and don’t eat for a day or 2 before a dentist appointment.
These are kind of common fears, so I usually try and pass them off as basically normal. But those comments hide an ugly truth about me. I suffer from a nasty illness called panic disorder.
My first real panic attack was on a plane, I’ll never, ever forget how it felt. Nowadays therapists tell me that this attack is why I’m afraid to fly. So afraid, in fact, that I’ve avoided planes for I think about 13 years now. And that’s no small order considering that my husband’s family, who I love, live in Oregon, and that we used to work for a company based in San Diego. We drive a lot. Steve is a saint.
The first panic attack was 17 years ago, although in hindsight anxiety had been with me long before that. I think a lot of my physical ailments as a child and teen were caused by underlying, unexpressed anxiety. Anyway, the panic attacks got worse and then better over the years, coming in waves depending on life situations, change, and stress.
After Abby was born 10 years ago, about the same time I graduated from nursing school, I sought out my third therapist. After Caleb was born ( he’s 8 ) and I went back to graduate school, I was already seeing my fourth therapist. I don’t chew therapists up and spit them out as much as I start doing better and then try and go it on my own for a while.
The summer of 2004, I think it was, things were really bad and I went an entire summer without eating. Anxiety and panic attacks kill my appetite, and I lost 30 pounds compare to what I weigh now. My stomach was in shreds from the anxiety and no food, and sometimes I’d spend mornings and long nights just throwing up from all the stress and stomach upset. There were days I felt forced to just stay in bed, because under my covers was the only place in the world that I felt safe. This is why I sometimes say that if it wasn’t for Jesus, I would be an agoraphobe, settling into my house in 2004 and never being brave enough to leave again. I remember, that summer or fall, having to leave work that I love in the middle of the day because I couldn’t stop shaking with panic, couldn’t think or see straight, practically. I drove to my therapist’s office and sat in the waiting room until she could see me. That day I finally, finally gave in to what so many people had been advising me to do and started on some medication indicated for generalized anxiety disorder. That didn’t change everything for sure, but it made it so after a while I could function a little better and I could appreciate the work that God was doing in my life despite my crippling fear.
But please do not misunderstand-this is not a story about medication. Although I am still taking it, and I am no longer ashamed of that fact, I want you to know that this is a story about Jesus.
I’m so proud of my wife for battling through this. I will post the rest of her story on Wednesday. If you have any questions or comments I’ll pass them along and get her to reply when she can.