About two months ago, I had an anxiety attack. Actually, I had two. The first was a milder one during a work meeting. I don't think anyone noticed, but I was struggling with controlling my breathing, my hands were shaking while I was trying to type the minutes, and I felt like just yelling, "SHUT UP!" and running out of the room. The second was a bit worse and happened two days later at church! It involved more breathlessness, shaking, clamminess and a feeling of being out of this world.
I've had them before...but not for quite some time. Sometimes they have been triggered by a stressful situation. Otherwise they come seemingly out of nowhere and I suddenly can't cope with normal, everyday tasks.
The reason I'm bringing this up is because it was my own personal experience of my previous post. I didn't choose to drop my mask. I have my pride; why on earth would I want to be seen as weak? But I found myself in a situation where I didn't have much choice. At church, people noticed and in this moment of weakness, I received some wonderful care.
I hear a lot of women say that there are different levels of friendship (close friend, casual acquaintance etc) and friends for different reasons and seasons (the friend who loves to party with you, the friend who you discuss literature with, the friend whose shoulder you cry on...). I agree that we can't be best friends with everyone. That is not my intention, and even if it was, I'm a seriously limited human being who wouldn't have enough time. My point in the previous post is that sometimes you can find yourself in situations where the friends who you may WANT to be around you cannot be there, and sometimes if you need help, you need to take a risk and ask. When I had an anxiety attack at church, none of my close friends were around. We've been at our church for less than a year, so we're still getting to know people. But, on that day, two fantastic women came to help me. One made sure I was alright. The other laid her hand on my arm and prayed for me. They didn't say, "Sorry we don't know you very well and this is really uncomfortable for us. We'll call your close friends for you." They saw a need and stepped in. Both of my relationships with these women have deepened a bit as a result. One suffers from anxiety attacks herself so I guess she can relate. Sometimes our friendships can't always be neatly compartmentalised. And when we're willing to put ourselves out there, wonderful things can happen.
I have found the latter half of 2011 to be a bit of a rough ride. After feeling like I was getting somewhere by the middle of the year, I have realised that that no matter what is happening in life, I need Jesus...more than anything...all of the time. Things started to go a bit pear-shaped when I went from doing admin work at home to working in an office in town again. I struggled in ways I never thought I would. Coupled with a very busy October full of event organisation for work (which I hate with a passion), it was all too much. I have enjoyed November and December far more as everything has gone back to a more slower pace.
This has made me realise something...I don't have a very big life 'plate'. I cope better with a smaller plate of one or two things, rather than a large plate crammed with everything imaginable. Some women are dinner plates. They thrive on busyness and having their fingers in many pies. I'm a side plate or a saucer.
For a long time I've felt ashamed of my 'side plate or saucerness'. Women are very good at being discouraging by making busyness and suffering some kind of status. What? You're finding life hard? I have 10 children and run all of the ladies/kids/hospitality ministries at church, plus I work part-time outside the home and I'm president of the P&C, soccer club, tennis club.... My life is HARDER than YOURS.
I'm a side plate or a saucer. That doesn't mean I want to be a slacker. I just want to be a side plate or a saucer for the glory of God.