It’s OK to Not Be Ok – by Linda Augsburger Gingerich

Elisabeth Elliot, author and personal sufferer, defined suffering as “having what you don’t want and wanting what you don’t have”1.  In January of 2022 I began to experience severe anxiety and depression as I had not experienced before.  In 1989, I had received a diagnosis of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and have been on medication for many years.  My symptoms, of which some were anxiety and depression, were drastically reduced.  I occasionally had small relapses where I needed medication adjustments, but nothing hit me so drastically as this episode of anxiety which affected my whole body.  It is hard to describe to someone what a true anxiety disorder feels like.  I felt it in my arms, my chest, my gut, my mind, my whole being. I felt as if I was in a constant adrenaline “flight or fight” mode.  This is what the body can do under severe stress. It remains in the Sympathetic Nervous System mode of flight or fight.  One can only remain in this state for so long without it eventually affecting all your body systems.

Interestingly enough, I retired from labor and delivery nursing in January 2022.  I had a major change in my routine and yes, even in my sense of worth and value.  It is amazing what such a change can create for many people.  By the end of January 2022, I had “what I didn’t want and wanted what I didn’t have.”  Peace, rest, and a sense of well-being.  I constantly felt unsettled and even depressed.  I wanted to stay away from everyone.

My first resort was to pray and ask God to bring relief and guide me into what was needed for my healing.  Since I had been on medication for OCD symptoms for many years, my next action was to determine if I needed a medication adjustment.  I sought out my psychiatric provider who prescribed a change. But that did not work.  I can’t even remember how many different medications I’ve tried over the last 2 years, to no avail.  I was not sleeping well at night which only made my days more difficult to endure.  So much activity was going on in my mind and body that resting for a nap during the day was impossible.

I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to bring relief to my mind and body.  I knew that God is the God of the impossible and that He could heal me.  But that prayer was slow in coming. I know that while on earth, Jesus did not always heal without asking the sick person to also do something.  A blind man needed to GO and wash the mud off his eyes.  A group of men with leprosy were told to GO and show themselves to the priest to verify their healing. A woman who had a bleeding issue for 12 years had to PUSH HERSELF through a crowd as an “unclean” woman who was not to be seen in public and she REACHED OUT to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. She was instantly healed, but not without effort on her part.  Nauman, in the Old Testament, who had leprosy, was told by a prophet to GO dip in the river 7 times before he received his healing.

I began to investigate as many avenues as possible.  I made an appointment with my Gynecologist and had a panel of hormones tested to see if something was out of range.  I spent many sessions with a mental health therapist who led me through facing some of the trauma in my past and with God’s help coming to a resolve that his presence was in my life at all times, having a specific plan for me.  I adjusted my diet, eating what was good for me and avoiding the food triggers that added physical stress to my body.  I began to exercise on a more regular basis and get out in the sunlight for a few minutes each day.  I was already seeing my psychiatric provider to assess the medication effects. One of the avenues she used was to do a DNA profile to see which medications would work the best for me.  I continued to read the Bible and helpful books on anxiety, trusting God’s word that says, “whoever seeks will find.”  I felt at times it was no use, but I kept on.

It has been two years!!  Two long years!!  I am beginning to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  I cannot say it has been just one of those avenues that began my healing, but I believe all of them have helped me get to where I am today.  I finally found a medication combination that is bringing relief. My body is not feeling the tingling sensations of the anxiety in my arms, and chest.  My mind is resting. My insides feel settled.  I am at peace with my past.  I can take a nap at midday.  And so very importantly, I have a husband who has prayed, out loud, for me daily and who has been in my corner, helping me set boundaries where I needed to, to protect my need for separation from busyness and people, so I could heal.  

My therapist shared three very helpful words NOT to use in my vocabulary.  WHY?” is the first word.  Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” I needed to ask “What can I do to change and how can I help myself in this journey?”  SHOULD is the second word because it correlates to shame and is detrimental to the nervous system.  The antidote to “I Should” is to say as possible, “I will…I can’t…I won’t or I can.”  The third word is BUT.”  For example, instead of saying, “I’m sad but I have to go to work.”  Find out the “HOW” I can take care of myself before going into work?  We need to be gentle with ourselves2.

In my case, I did not receive an instant healing.  God led me to many different avenues that all have been helpful in coming back to a homeostatic level.  But God has been with me and I thank my thoughtful, concerned and loving husband who has walked with me through this long journey. 

Some lessons along the way:

  • I am not a superhero – I’m human.
  • It takes time to process grief and loss, anger and pain.
  • I need to continuously take care of my mental and emotional health.
  • I need to sleep, and I need to heal.

And I know God promises to use all things we experience to bring about good…at some point in His time.  

I finally am having what I have been wanting!!!

 1 Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering Is Never for Nothing  (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2019), p. 9.

2 Brene’ Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

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