Trying to explain my anxiety (or depression) to others is a tall order. Generally, my list of responses include: “Oh, we all get anxious!” (Uh-huh.) “I get nervous about going to the doctor, too.” (Is it a week-long obsession for you?) “Trust in the Lord!” (Who says I’m not?) “I totally understand! One time in [insert year], I went through terrible anxiety. Thankfully, the Lord delivered me from it [and He will deliver you, too.]” (Sometimes we all just carry around our own “thorns in the flesh.)
I know that most people want to relate to me and are only trying to encourage me. I used to feel exactly the opposite—misunderstood and discouraged. Then I met others who shared my struggle, who knew what it was truly like to lie in bed with a Bible as a way to chase away the demons, who understood that getting dressed and brushing my teeth is a major accomplishment some days, and who truly walked this path hand-in-hand with God.
Due to my recent health concerns, I’ve been feeling anxious. While I am doing a much better job of seeking God in my trials, adrenalin still courses through my veins and my mind screams, “You’re not safe,” while my heart pounds in my ears. So, the other day I wrote a poem about anxiety. Sometimes a girl’s just gotta say it with poetry.
“The Panic Attack” by me
Right brain, left lobe
Bouncing to and fro
Never ceasing, never ending, never letting go
Nausea, adrenalin coursing through the veins
Breathe in, two-three
Hold on, hold still, as the world spins
Heart pounding, hands shaking, sweat dripping
Breathe in, four-five
Fighting, ripping, raging, screaming
Left brain, right lobe
Breathe in, breathe out
Fifteen minutes go by
Just keep counting
Just keep breathing
Just keep living
It will be over soon
In a reading of “The Panic Attack,” I will quicken my pace as I read to mimic how a panic attack grows and rages and then eventually ends (usually in fifteen minutes). Unless I make a vlog, most of you will never see this reading, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.
“Breathe In, Breathe Out” one of the tracks on Jason Gray’s latest album, A Way to See in the Dark, says that we breathe the name of God. And I even found a video of Jason explaining the song and playing it (by the way, this is almost exactly what Jason said at his concert. He would probably also want me to tell you that he sounds perfect on his albums, so you should buy one. If you can’t afford it, you will have a chance win an autographed copy here in the next couple of weeks!)
Let me tell you how, “Yah (1, 2, 3) Weh (1, 2, 3)” can really help during a panic attack; it’s gasping a prayer to the One who can truly provide peace.
Do you suffering from anxiety or panic attacks? If so, what silly things have well-meaning people said to you? What does a panic attack feel like to you? Do you like Jason Gray’s song? How can breathing the name of God help you when you are anxiety-ridden?
7 thoughts on “Poetic Breathing”
No Amy…i don’t have anxiety attacks, but i have mild depression. i think pain of any sort can do that to you. Not a clue what you are going through, but will pray for you, as i do for other authors.
I suffer from a severe anxiety disorder and with panic disorder. I used to have panic attacks a few times a day. For me, every muscle in my body would tighten up so that I couldn’t move and had trouble breathing and swallowing and I just felt scared about nothing. I was hospitalized for it for four days and then was in partial hospitalization for about four months. I am only now able to go more than a few days without an attack. What helped the most was the medication (I’m on celexa, klonapin, trazadone, and seroquel) but other than that there are two great books which have helped a lot: Mind Over Mood and The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook.
Honored to be a part of your story here 🙂
It may be the height of immodesty to quote myself, but it seems relevant to share here something I wrote as a devotional for this song, so I’ll risk it. So as I once said: 😉
“In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs. In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst. In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down. When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage. When I think about it, breathing looks almost like a kind of praying.”
If it is true that the name of God is the sound of our breathing, then breathing is so meaningful, isn’t it? Anyway, reading your post made me think about that. Thanks again, it was great to meet you, thank you for inviting my music into your life the way you have, and for assuring people that I do, in fact, sound fantastic on my albums 😉
Marianne, mild depression is bad enough. I will pray for you as well. Thank you so much for your prayers; I really appreciate it! 🙂 You can pray for my jaw pain, which my family doc thinks is TMJ. I see an ENT on Tuesday.
Kathy, thank you for sharing your story! The biggest thing I have learned in my journey is this–I am not alone. Knowing that I’m not just some random crazy person thinking things I know are irrational has helped a lot.
But the other thing that has helped is knowing that I AM NEVER ALONE! God is always walking beside me, carrying me when necessary. A book that has helped me immensely (and really has nothing to do with anxiety) is The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Eliot, which I’m going to talk about in more detail soon (I want to re-read it first) and I do find the music of Bebo Norman particularly calming (also Rich Mullins and Fernando Ortega.) Like I’ve shared, Jason Gray’s album, A WAY TO SEE IN THE DARK, has been especially healing to me during my most recent bout of anxiety/depression.
And “now ONLY able to go a few days”?!?! Kathy, that is WONDERFUL!!! From a few times a day to every three days! Lady, that is progress. I am very proud of you! Keep going. You and I–we can do this. Fear will NOT rule us…but God certainly can.
Jason, I’m so glad you commented because I didn’t read the devotionals that go along with your songs (though I’ve heard from a certain Floridian that they’re excellent. Since I did post your video and talk about your song, it is perfectly appropriate to quote your devotional for the song here. Frankly, I’m glad you did because it’s a beautiful quote.
Breathing the name of God makes perfect sense to me. When I read about the Creation of Adam, God breathed life into him. God made life possible with HIS breath and He sustains life; He is THE LIFE. Breath (air) is what keeps us alive (along with a few other things), but it travels through our veins in our blood to every part of our body giving life. When oxygen (breath) is cut off, that part of our body dies. It is interesting how much that speaks to our spiritual lives–how the things we think we hide from God die without His life, how we die without yielding to Him in all things (especially anxiety).
You’ve inspired me, Jason. I am going to do a word study on breathing and I will post my thoughts on that here. This song is intellectually stirring.
Thank you for making music I can invite into my life. It’s not just anyone who gets a chance to truly impact me, so I’m glad God used you because you’re a really nice humanoid (with an impeccable taste in literature). 🙂
P.S. I’m listening to downhere ALL THE TIME. I can’t believe I only listened to their Christmas album. How silly is that? I was blown away by their live show.
“Certain Floridian.” lol.
Seriously though, this is beautiful. And I meant to comment ages ago, because I have a question… what is the way you wish people would respond when you try to explain what it’s like to deal with depression and anxiety? What helps? I ask because I have, from time to time, experienced what I think could be a panic attack, and I’ve known times of depression. (Maybe not capital D clinical depression, but something like it.) I am thankful that these experiences haven’t lasted super long… but it has been bad enough to make me really feel for those who struggle with it on a more constant basis.
All that to say, I have a real heart for those in the fight, but I want to know how to be a better friend, be more understanding. Sometimes, I’m so afraid of saying something hurtful or unhelpful that I don’t say anything.
So I humbly submit this question. Maybe it’s something to explore in a blog post. Thank you for always being so transparent about your journey. You inspire me, and I’m so glad we’re friends. 🙂