Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So, Am I Cured, Yet?

Easy question, tough answer. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder a little over a decade ago. Refining it, there are elements of depression, OCD, panic disorder, and the like in my diagnosis. At first glace, it is overwhelming, scary, and something to be, well, anxious about. Ten years down the road, multiple medication therapies, and a couple of well paid doctors later, shouldn't I be cured? Isn't this something that I should be able to look back on and say, "Yup, that was a tough time, glad that's over with. Next?"

Don't I wish. As much as I can proudly say that it is controlled, it is far from over. Tried to cut my daily dose of medication in half- that flopped. I was right back to a basket case within a few days. Managed to pretty much cut out my benzodiazepines (Ativan, Restoril) but I can't say I am cured. A little visualization therapy and dig into my handy dandy bag of helps (calling someone, cleaning something, doing something for someone else) when I feel an attack coming on usually fixes it, but the fact that I still have these feelings, does that mean I am a failure?

Then there is the people that get hurt because of my disorder. Either they feel like I don't trust them or I say or do something that I might otherwise think better of when my brain is working normally but can't seem to fix when I am in that anxiety state. Can I just chalk that up to my disorder or do I have to own up to it? Perhaps a little of both? Why am I not cured enough to stop this anyhow?

I wish there was a cure. Take ten days worth of antibiotics and call back if it doesn't work and you need something stronger. The fact is, there really isn't a cure. Just remission. For a lot of people, that isn't good enough. Honestly, for me, it is a matter of perspective.

From the perspective of God, everything I do is sinful. My waking times, my sleeping times, the times that I am at my "best" and the times I am at my "worst" are no different. I was born sinful. I commit sins now and have in the past. Odds are, I will in the future as well. The things that stem from my disorder, the things that have nothing to do with the disorder, and anything in between, are all damnable by God because no matter the excuse, they are still offensive. Praise be to God that I am saved through the washing and rebirth of Baptism, where Christ's saving death and resurrection were poured on me and I became a princess in the Kingdom of God. Cure or no cure, this is still reality- and I praise God for this reality!

This is what my perspective personally is based on. Cure or no cure, reason for sin or just random acts of sinfulness, it all must be viewed through the cross of Christ. My anxiety is a violation of the First Commandment directly- fear that God cannot protect me from the evils of this life, even if I don't outwardly do anything to protect myself, is sin. Can I train myself to say a prayer instead of being anxious? Could that eventually turn into a habit that circumvents my anxiety in some way? Sure. Is that a cure? Uh, no. That's remission. That's a way to deal with it but it doesn't make the baseline problem go away. It just aids in controlling it so that symptoms are all but invisible. However, I still have to guard against the anxiety coming back. Crazy as it may sound, I could give myself a panic attack about forgetting the prayer and making it into a god of its own, thinking that the "cure" for this particular anxiety is in the prayer and not the One to Whom the prayer is addressed.

Truthfully, something that has been a part of my life for ten years isn't going to go away. It can be controlled, guarded against, and put into remission where I barely notice it, but I have been changed by it and always run the risk of going back to those early times when I was untreated and a wreck.

So, how do I live knowing that this isn't something that will ever go away? Can't this create a depressive episode on its own? Not with the right perspective. I am forgiven. That's right, it's not that this disorder doesn't matter, it's that it's already been paid for 2,000 years ago at Golgatha. My anxiety now, in the past, and in the future, are all covered by Jesus' blood. So, as it were, I am cured, because the life saving Christ who gives me His Body and His Blood to drink in the Holy Supper gives me the antidote against death (read also, anxiety, depression, and the whole list of other sins that separate us from God). But, just like that big life stuff cure that cures sins that are stemming from my disorder and those that aren't, I won't see it until eternal life. Does that make me crave the words, "Thy kingdom come", a bit more? Sure, but that is also in God's time. So how do I live with it now, hrm... stay tuned for part two.