Monday, November 24, 2014

My Heart Was Failing Me - Chablis's Story

By Chablis Adams

Chablis is on the right

On July 17, 2012 at 4:00 a.m., while sleeping, I was hit with a major, sudden, and unexpected panic attack. I had never experienced anything like it before and thought I was having a heart attack. Embarrassingly, I was transported to the ER via an ambulance and spent an entire day being tested and probed for heart problems, only to be told over the phone by a cardiologist that my heart was healthy, I must've had some anxiety, and I should just go home and rest. I felt like an idiot.
That day began my journey of painful, never-ending anxiety. I suffered every day. Sometimes all day and all night. My heart would race, and I couldn't catch my breath. My chest was sore, and it hurt to breathe. Sometimes the pressure in my chest would be so overwhelming, I couldn't do anything but lay down. I had pulling/straining pains in my upper back, digestion issues, headaches, and exhaustion. I became very depressed.
Kind people who wanted to help would tell me to find things I enjoy and do them often. It was then that I realized that I didn't enjoy anything anymore. I didn't enjoy my kids, even when they were being sweet. I didn't enjoy baths or baking or makeup or making friends. I didn't have any close friends in Atlanta yet. Though the church group is wonderful and I knew I could call several people from church at anytime and receive help, I didn't want to call them. I didn't want to put forth any kind of effort toward socialization.
During these weeks, I would beg my husband, almost on a daily basis it seemed, to give me a priesthood blessing before bed. I would read my scriptures and pour my soul out in prayer. "Help thou my unbelief," I would cry, as I was sure that my Heavenly Father could heal me and stop this madness and that it was just my wavering faith that was in the way. My prayers helped . . . a little. I would sob nightly in conversation with God. Eventually, in exhaustion and with the peace of knowing that my Heavenly Father would take care of me, I would slip into a slumber (often just to be woken up a few hours later with the pounding of my heart).
I knew I needed to see a doctor. It took roughly four weeks before I was seen. When I finally got in to see a doctor, she was very understanding and really wanted to be very helpful. She suggested that I start taking two prescription medications and one over-the-counter medication: (1) Zoloft, an antidepressant; (2) Xanax, an anxiety med; and 93) Unisom, a sleep aid. I have always been wary of taking medications, so I told the doctor I would have to do some research and think and pray about the medications and get back to her.
That very day I heard from a friend whose brother-in-law had just committed suicide weeks after taking a new antidepressant medication. This was a huge red flag for me, and I saw it as a sign from God that these pills would not help me. I wanted to take these pills, and I wanted them to help me. But the more I thought about the possibility of them making my situation worse and not better (which is rare, but does happen), the worse my anxiety would get. This was my answer from God about the antidepressants. I knew there was another way I could overcome my anxiety. I just didn't know what it was yet.
When I and my family got back from a trip to Utah, I began seeing a therapist weekly. She helped me immensely, and I still see her regularly. On our very first visit, she taught me the importance of breathing, breathing correctly, and paying attention to my breathing. I began breathing down through my belly and diaphragm and focusing on slowing the breath down and pushing the breath deeper. This helped me a ton, but I was still battling anxiety almost daily.
Then, one day I stumbled upon this:

Progressive Prophetess

It was as if a light turned on inside my soul and I could feel the Holy Ghost telling me inside that this was my answer.
I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of this meditation challenge. The word meditation was hitting me so strongly. I had always known that meditation was a good thing for people to do. I just didn't know how to do it. I had tried before, but just sitting in my room, trying to be quiet was always so confusing. I couldn't do it. I needed someone to teach me how to meditate. This is where Felice came in. I signed up for her weekly webinar class. This was one of the best things I've ever done for myself.
In our first class, Felice quoted Doctrine and Covenants 88:91: "And all things shall be in commotion, and surely men's hearts shall fail them for fear shall come upon all people." This scripture just blew me away because my heart was failing me. I could not function in my daily life because my heart was failing to keep up with the stress going on in my mind. I would venture to say that people's hearts are failing them every day in every way, and some may not even know it. The more I open up about my issues with anxiety, the more I find that everyone is dealing with anxiety on some level.
Felice taught me several different meditations. The one I have done for the last forty days is called Kirtan Kriya. You can google it. Meditation may seem way too weird" or out in left field for some of you. All I can say is that it has changed my life. When I had a few days of resistance or hesitation with the meditation, I would ask Heavenly Father if this was something that was good for me and would help me. I always got the answer, "Yes, this is good for you." I would feel happy and excited to meditate again.
Within three days of starting Kirtan Kriya, I was finding myself falling asleep without having to count my breathing to keep my heart rate down. I can now look back and see how seriously depressed I really was, even though I didn't really think that was part of my problem. I feel happy and so blessed to be a mother to my children. They are no longer a burden to me. In fact, my ability to stay calm and patient when they are acting up has increased tenfold! My follow through with discipline and my ability to communicate with my kids has improved greatly. I feel so much love for them. I feel so much love for other people. Now that my heart is open to God's, I can feel His love flowing out of me to other people. My prayers have changed, and I somehow feel inspired to ask for certain things from God that I never would have asked for before. I have been much more grateful and sincere in my prayers. This all may seem very drastic, and it is! It's only been six weeks.
Do I still struggle with anxiety? A little bit. Basically, I've noticed that when I am tired, I lose the ability to control my thoughts and emotions. So, when I am overly tired, I struggle more. But let me just tell you that even those moments are mild in comparison to my everyday struggles six weeks ago. Meditation works!

This essay was taken from a blog post Chublis wrote 6 weeks after beginning meditation. Two years later, she reported that she is still meditating (though not as consistently, due to 3 moves, and a new baby) but she is still enjoying the benefits and helped us uplevel Washington DC a month ago.

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