Once you emerge from an unpleasant chapter in life, it is best to go your way and never look back–right? After overcoming the demons, discovering an abundance you never dreamed you could have, and leaving the ghosts of those wasted, unhappy years so far behind you no longer see them anymore, why revisit them? What good could that possibly do? Sometimes, a lot of good.
I had endured 16 years of crippling and debilitating panic attacks that claimed almost half of my twenties and all of my thirties, attacks so severe they bordered on agoraphobia. I would have gladly sequestered myself, except I had no one willing to support me. I functioned, if you could call it that, in the shadows, restricting grocery runs to all-night stores in the wee hours when the stores stood largely empty, and only attending functions if I could find a seat near the door so I could beat a hasty retreat in the face of an oncoming attack. I never dated. I had no social life. In fact, I had no life at all–just a pseudo-existence filled with loneliness and misery. And no one understood.
Miraculously, I functioned well enough to hold a job as a computer programmer, tucked away in a protective cocoon hidden in the bowels of the corporate office. I brought my own lunch and ate at my desk, arriving early and staying late to avoid as much traffic as possible. I tried counseling, pills–nothing worked. The counselors left me feeling worse, while the pills made me foggy and less functional than ever.
One night I was forced to leave early. A road rage incident in rush hour traffic propelled me straight home and into my bedroom bent on committing suicide. In that dark room, backed into a corner, I came to terms with how I’d been living. God asked some pointed questions, not audibly, but through thoughts put into my mind. I confessed my sin and gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. In the days that followed God began to move and the miracles began. The chains fell away and for the first time in years I could breathe. In June of 1992 the panic attacks were forever vanquished and my life restored.
After publishing BELLA I intended to start formatting a children’s book but for some reason felt compelled to revisit this chapter and to write the story of my journey out of darkness into light, out of bondage into perfect freedom with my sanity intact. The story ends joyfully. How can I NOT tell it? And if it helps draw others to freedom and new life, it will have all been worth it. Looking back, I don’t even consider it an ordeal anymore, but simply another leg of my life’s journey.
Today I start organizing my thoughts and notes for this amazing story. As the book comes together, I will share on this blog. Often what helps a suffering person most is access to someone who not only sympathizes, but can empathize with what they are enduring. Hopefully, I can be that person.
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