Have you ever looked up the definition of overwhelm? According to Dictionary.com it means these two things:
- To overcome completely in mind or feeling
- To overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush
Clearing up just exactly what the word overwhelm means helps me explain just how I’ve been feeling lately. This is the word I have been using relentlessly for a few months now to describe how I feel. I’m mentally and physically exhausted and overwhelmed. And if I’m being completely honest, shoulder surgery #8 isn’t a drop in the bucket compared to the anxiety that has overwhelmed my life lately. The anxiety that has crushed my life lately. Anxiety isn’t just something that you can turn on and off. It isn’t just a choice to “not worry about things anymore.” If it was that simple, believe me, I’d of saved myself the trouble.
I do a really good job at being very quiet about my anxiety. I can put on a happy face and be social and act like everything is fine when in reality my mind is going in a million directions about everything that seems to be going wrong in my life all at the same time. I’ve had 3 major surgeries within 12 months. I had 8 shoulder surgeries before I could even legally have my first sip of alcohol. I’ve spent more hours in physical therapy than any other patient at my PT clinic ever has. (I’m not exaggerating, they’ve literally told me I’ve set the record for most times in PT at their office.) I face a life with a chronic illness that has been anything but kind to me lately and that absoutley terrifies me. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is chronic. It’s not going away. Doctors can’t even tell me if there is a chance that it might get better. How is that not going to mess with your head? I’ve spent more nights than I can count crying myself to sleep because I’m so exhausted from fighting every day. There are days when I’m just completely done fighting. I’m tired of being strong. I’m tired of people telling me I’m strong. I want to get mad. I want to grieve the life that I don’t get to have because of this stupid genetic monster that I didn’t ask for.
So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve been mad. It’s consumed me. I’m pissed that I’m not allowed to go to the gym right now. I’m pissed that I haven’t been able to go for a run since September. I’m pissed that I spent my 21st birthday in a sling. I’m pissed that I can’t drive. I’m pissed that I’m off a semester from school. I’m pissed that my shoulder scars aren’t symmetrical. If you can name it, I’ve been pissed about it. I’m over being all rainbows and sunshine about my chronic illness because not only am I physically fighting every day because of EDS, I’m fighting an even harder mental battle. And unfortunately, I’m most definitely losing that one.
It’s been much easier for me to be mad about it that to actually admit how scared I really am about the unknown. I have been so mad at God lately that I just quit talking to Him. In my mind it felt like I don’t know what I did to deserve everything I’ve had to deal with and it was easier to say “it’s God’s fault” and just quit talking. And as that happened, my anxiety overwhelmed and consumed me.
Recently, I was having a somewhat good day (as much as my anxiety would allow me) and then randomly it was like a punch to the gut. I was back in that angry, scared place. For no reason. I broke. I hit rock bottom. I laid in bed, bawling by myself and finally realized I wasn’t going to get a grip on any of this if I wasn’t going to get my relationship with God back on track. So, I reluctantly flipped open my bible and stumbled across Psalm 61:2.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
There was that word I had been using constantly to describe how I was feeling right there in front of me. “When my heart is overwhelmed” WOW. No subtlety this time, God. My tears that were first from an overwhelming anxiety became tears from an overwhelming love and sense of calm. God works in a lot of mysterious ways, but there’s no mystery that He was talking to me this time.
I’m far from perfect and I’m not going to ever pretend that I am anywhere close to perfection. I’m a broken mess. But I’m God’s broken mess and I couldn’t be more thankful that He continues to remind me even when I’m at my worst, He is in control. I may not always realize it, but He is carrying me through those tough times. Some days it’s hard to remember, but I’m the daughter of a king and I am so loved by Him and for that I’m so undeservingly blessed.
I still struggle with my anxiety daily, but it’s not a battle I’m trying to fight alone anymore. So, please remember when you start to become overwhelmed by anything big or small, give it to God because we can’t fight our battles in life alone.