Waves of nausea overcame me and my belly gurgled noisily. I ran to the bathroom. I felt like the room was swimming and I was unbelievably tired.
And I wasn’t pregnant.
I started to check in on my body. Had I been nourishing it the best I could? Was I honouring it with the right type of movement? I had been tuned into my intuition. Or so I had thought.
The lightbulb went off in my mind. Could I be anxious again? I’d had a few losses of late; my position as elder in our church, my favourite subject that I teach at school got canned (while on maternity leave I dare say) and I was still mourning that my best friend of 23 years was still not talking to me.
Even to think about those losses made my stomach churn and had me hitting the bathroom fast. The more I suppressed these feelings of loss and hurt, the more the physical symptoms intensified. I lost my appetite and the fatigue felt like I was walking through a fog in a dark forest.
I called my counsellor but she was unavailable for months. I may have cried a little. Ok, make that a lot. Finally I spoke with a friend who knows all too well the symptoms of anxiety and depression. She organised for me a session with a psychotherapist at her family’s clinic. I was nervous because I had seen my previous counsellor for 12 years. It meant I was going to have to repeat the traumas in my life. In particular open my heart again about how my ex-husband went missing years ago and the effect that has had on my life.
As I sat awkwardly in the brown leather chair, I started to give the therapist the abbreviated version of the story.
“Why do you laugh?” she enquired.
“Because it’s a ridiculous story. Who’d put up with someone disappearing every 3 months and then taking them back again over and over. Do you realise how weird it was to explain his disappearance in court?” I said again, nervous laugh in tow.
“You did it again.”
“Laughed. It’s a sad story and your emotions aren’t matching up with it. It’s ok to be sad you know.”
For the first time I realised I had been masking my emotions by being the clown. I mean I was the one who would make people laugh when they were down and here I was doing it for myself but not allowing myself to feel my feelings in their entirety.
“Feelings in and of themselves are a spiritual experience” she continued. “Name them.”
“IT is ridiculous.” I puffed.
“Claim the feeling Di.”
“I FEEL ridiculous. I FEEL let down. I AM infuriated. I AM sad.”
The tears started to form a waterfall down my cheeks.
You see, so often we’re told to “not be anxious about anything. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and prayers shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
But what do you do when you’ve tried to lay it all at God’s feet and you still feel bleh?
We sometimes think that to be spiritually connected to God we have to control our emotions by praying them away. The church has been very good at teaching us that, unfortunately to our detriment. You don’t have to DO more lovely one. Your feelings are a spiritual experience in themselves. By feeling them in their entirety you are connected with God, the Divine in that very moment.
Mental health is not something that can just be prayed away (although miracles can absolutely happen). It’s not that simple. God has gifted others with the gift of active listening and space holding (aka my therapist). He’s also provided remedies through nature (hello Naturopathy), not to mention the wisdom He gives our doctors.
God’s also given everything you need through His spirit to fully process these feelings in due time. It’s about when you’re ready to feel your feelings.
Alice in Wonderland once said “Who in this world am I? Ah that’s the great puzzle.”
As you enter the second half of this year I challenge you to explore the Wonderland of your emotions. Even if it takes you down the rabbit hole of anxiety. Know like Alice, you’ll return back home after all of the chaos and the adventures. And that’s ok because God lovingly holds you in the palm of His hand.
Even though the puzzle may be all over the place and the pieces just aren’t fitting where you think they should doesn’t mean that picture won’t be beautiful at the end.
After all God promises to complete a good work in you. How amazing is that?
Diana Braybrooke is a spirituality life coach who works with anxious women who want to say ‘yes’ more. She knows what it feels like to be in a place of darkness – to not know yourself and where your inner light went – and how to move forward once you come out the other side. With seven years experience as a high school teacher, Diana asks the right questions to guide you into a deep acceptance of who you are helping you see your true beauty. You can learn more about Diana and get instant access to the Freebie Vault (free e-books, guides, prayers, meditations, manifesto + toolkits), when you sign up on the V.I.P list at www.dianabraybrooke.com.