The Journey Home From Anxiety and Panic

journeyhomeWhat a time it’s been! I was on The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi last week, on Easter Monday, the very day, thirteen years ago, that I entered full communion with the Catholic Church.

It was a good experience, but not one without anxieties. On the show I shared how God saved me from death, both physical death that I was contemplating via suicide and the spiritual death of despair and unbelief.

I haven’t watched the whole video–only got to see about fifteen minutes so far due to working “nights and weekends” at my work–but many friends have remarked to me that they thought it went really well and that they could hardly believe I was someone who had an anxiety disorder.

But I did have one, and leading up to the show I was quite anxious about it. Because I’m like an alcoholic who has been sober for ten years–the temptation to drink again is always sort of there in the background–just as for me the temptation to fear and panic is there. For the show I knew I would be in the limelight, something some people desire but people with disordered anxieties avoid at all costs. I didn’t know much about how the show would be done, either, up until the night before.

They told me that there would be little preparation because Marcus likes to have the interview be as spontaneous as possible–he’s hearing the story for the first time like the viewers are–and that they do one taping straight through. So no do-overs for mess-ups, basically.

All this made me a bit uneasy, but when battling rising anxieties I’ve learned a few things. The first is that I tell God I’m afraid of failing or being humiliated, but that I seek to do this thing for His glory, so that others might come to know him. Since that is my goal, and not my own self-promotion, I need not fear. For I can only do my best, and if God allows me to be humiliated, then that is for His glory. I’m a poor instrument and can’t be surprised that not every note that comes out of me sounds good.

I also learned to remind myself that I’m surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are on my side. They love me and don’t want me to fail. They are my spiritual family, and I can let my guard down. That was the case with the people at the Coming Home Network (who do The Journey Home). They are a great group of people, faithful and kind, and so welcoming. They made me feel at home.

Another thing I learned is that my children and wife are always proud of me. All my son and daughter knew was that I was flying on “a jet plane” to Ohio and would be back the next day after they were in bed. But that I would come in a give them a kiss when I got home. They love it when I can read to them, carry them on my back, do the “super fly” game, and get home from work so I can push them on the swing. My wife likewise loves me no matter whether I’m successful or a failure.

The anxiety disorder and depression that God rescued me from taught me to not be puffed up anymore. I was ground down to a fine consistency and realize I may very well be again one day. When I tell my wife such things she laughs and says “you’re the last person that would let success and recognition go to their head.” I hope so.

While Marcus Grodi normally doesn’t speak much beforehand with the person being interviewed, he and I ended up chatting an hour prior to the show about farming. He and I have a lot in common in this area and traded stories, books we’ve read, and ideas about how the rich Catholic agrarian life may be recovered and brought into the modern world. It was providential, and something I didn’t expect at all, not knowing that he was interested in this subject until I mentioned that we had bought a milk cow. It was one more small gift of our Lord that helped me to feel more at ease.

After thirteen years, God has substantially healed me of disordered anxieties, including depression and panic attacks. I no longer have to take any medicine for them, and they are usually manageable. Sometimes, when multiple severe life stresses occur, they can flare up again, but they have not been able to paralyze me as they once did.

To all my friends who messaged or called me telling me they thought the show went well, thank you. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to hear that, and how grateful to our Lord that I am for it. Blessed Easter season to you!

 

Share
This entry was posted in Faith and Reason, Family Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Journey Home From Anxiety and Panic

  1. AnneG says:

    I saw it and you did really well. Really enjoyed it. I didn’t notice your anxiety at all.

  2. SteveD says:

    Very interesting episode, some great points made in support of our faith. Thanks, great job.

  3. Christina says:

    I really enjoyed listening to this. So many good points. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

  4. Claire says:

    I watch the Journey Home faithfully, but I somehow missed your episode. I will definitely look forward to watching it! It’s great to hear that the episodes are so spontaneous; that gives me even more respect for the show and for Marcus Grodi.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Devin. I started wrestling with anxiety and anxiety attacks as an evangelical Christian. I also couldn’t seem to develop a consistent prayer life. I was a lay Bible teacher and preacher so I knew my Bible. But because of anxiety, I almost despaired of life.

    God in His grace led me to the Catholic Church and I was received into the Church in 2010. I have received many graces from God through the Catholic Church and now have a consistent prayer life and like you, I am able to handle anxiety most of the time by praying the prayers of the Church and availing myself of the sacraments. Also, the prayers of the saints uphold me.

    So thanks for the encouraging episode! We are indeed not alone!

  6. Bob says:

    Devin,
    Good to hear your substantially healed me of disordered anxieties, including depression and panic attacks.

  7. Augustine says:

    Devin,

    You did quite well and you came through as you do when teaching a class. You’re a natural… and the camera loves you! ????

    Christ is risen!

  8. JeffB says:

    Enjoyed hearing your story, Devin. I think it’s the first time I’ve heard your voice or seen anything other than a still photo since I first interacted with you on internetmonk years ago. Thanks again and great job.

    Peace,
    JeffB

  9. Patti Day says:

    I saw the program. Both your story and your deportment were excellent. It was a surprise to me to see someone who suffered from anxiety and panic attacks appear so composed. It gives me hope. I’m glad you didn’t gloss over it.

  10. Trey says:

    I really enjoyed the interview! I’m a brand new convert, a former Baptist who dabbled in Anglicanism and agnosticism, and hearing your reasoned approach really was wonderful. I’m not good yet at answering lots of questions about the faith, but I hope I can be.

    I have a very good Evangelical friend who is very concerned about me right now. I’m hoping your book can come in handy – I just purchased it, and after I read it, I’m going to send him a copy as well.

    I’m glad there are converts like you out there – it’s very helpful to folks like me! Keep up the great work. You’re very blessed with a great gift! :-)

  11. ewell says:

    Devin,

    I saw your EWTN JH interview and really enjoyed it hence finding your blog. I have been on a spiritual journey just over a decade coming back to my faith. I grew up in a Catholic family and graduated from a Jesuit high school. Like many I drifted very far away near to the point of being an atheist till my mid thirties. Today I go to a non-denominational church and continue my journey of faith. Like you I am still asking questions of both sides:

    On the Protestant side, logic would have it if you were Catholic prior to the reformation I supposed you were not “saved” which does not make much sense to me if you hold to the argument you must be “saved” in today’s times to enter Heaven. I wonder how much of this is a cultural behavior in today’s times.

    What you point out is interesting how over the ages many great Catholic leaders and Saints are never thought as if to assume Christianity really just started in the 16the century with the Reformation.

    On the flip sideI do feel like I have a relationship with Christ now which I do not remember being discussed in that manner in Catholic Church or high school. My moment of revelation for me was when my wife brought home one day the Purpose Driven Life book. The first chapter turned on a light switch for me. Ever since then I have had a desire to know Christ and become more like him. I picked up the Bible for the first time and started reading it. In high school, learning the bible in the one class offered in four years was more of a history lesson rather that a life application lesson it seemed at the time. For some it is a decision, for others this may happen over time. For me it was that revelation that has strengthened over time. In times of serious challenges I find my hunger to know Christ greater and rely on His strength.

    What does not make sense to me being a Catholic was confirmation in eighth grade. More of a ritual to say you are a Christian and that you love and believe in Christ. This still does not make sense to me as I do see a lot of merit to “wanting” or desiring” to know Christ which does often involve a conscious decision rather than an age and a ritual. I am speaking for myself here as some of the rules of the Catholic Church only created more confusion growing up rather then a desire to know Christ. I am not trying to knock the Church here…it’s how I felt growing up and to some degree still do. There are some other rituals or rules that don’t necessarily add up for me even today.

    I see very strong merits to both sides as for those who have a heart for knowing Christ, which in my opinion is the ultimate goal for all who call themselves Christians – be it Catholic or Protestant. I’m not trying to convert my many Catholic friends in New Orleans who truly do have a heart for Christ, those that waiver or don’t understand their faith per se I also am not shy to talking about my faith from a non denominational perspective if that helps lead someone to Christ.

    There are still questions on both sides for me. What I can state for a fact is that I need Christ in my life and can’t do it on my own. There have been a series of Grace moments for me this past year, which no doubt in my mind were guided by God’s hand as I have walked though some challenges. My Church pastors have been there to help me through those times. I can’t discount their guidance from a Protestant perspective helping me overcome some of the challenges. I also can not say a Catholic Priest could have helped me better or worse either under the Catholic Church. I would imagine God’s hand would have guided me in much the same way had I gone to a Priest for council. I do have a better appreciation for the Catholic Church today than when I was younger.

    I imagine some of these pathways to find your spiritual home are not that different. Thank you for your blog and insights.

    Ewell

  12. Hi Devin,
    This comment is meant for Katie on a post she wrote back in December “Failure.” I couldn’t find how to post on that one, so I’m leaving it here, if that’s ok. Please forward this to her. Thanks So much!

    Hi Katie,
    A friend in our prayer group shared this with us, and although I don’t usually leave comments… this one compelled me! I wanted to share how although you do not know me, I believe that your sacrifice and faithful waiting in your own life have blessed my life, albeit indirectly.
    My husband and I recently came into the fullness of the Church this past Easter Vigil. We converted from Evangelical non- denominationalism, much to the disappointment of our Ex Catholic, now Evangelical families. One of the first books that I read on the long 2 year search was your husbands, “If Protestantism is True.” It was early on, and it was a great book that left me convinced that I should continue on this search and figure out what I really believe.
    As a wife of a busy lawyer, and SAHM of 4 kids, I believe I have learned (sometimes kicking and screaming) that the beauty behind a well thought, productive husband, is usually a calm and supportive wife. I am sure, that your husband, while having a charism of writing and sharing God’s truth, would not have been able to write so well and think so clearly if it had not been for a loving wife at home. One who as best as she could taught the kids to love their Dad, to support his late nights (we know there are tons!), and put the kids to bed on her own, sometimes many nights in a row. I think it is these sacrifices, that go unnoticed by most, (who cares how fast you can load the dishwasher.. oh wait, I do!), that are never missed by the eye of a loving Heavenly Father.
    It was very much due to your sacrifices, and waiting, on a daily, hour by hour basis, that helped to lead me into the beauty of the Church. So I owe my conversion first to the God who calls all men to himself, and to the many brilliant writers whose books gave me courage and clarity on becoming Catholic, but also, in no less significance to the wives. The women who stood in the background, who supported their husbands, who fed them dinner, who cleaned their clothes, who made sure that their writing environments were as quiet as they could be, who were probably the first minds that ideas were tossed debated with… these women (You), have been converting souls on a daily basis; all while you wipe bottoms and sing good night songs, and wonder if it is all worth it. And if my experience at the Easter Vigil is any indication; it is worth it. And I thank you.
    As I thought about writing this, I was reminded of King David. He who wanted to be the one to build the temple was told to wait. His son would do the building, yet David would be the one whose line would carry the Savior of the World. How incredible it is to think that these little people who we are evangelizing to on a daily basis may one day grow up to change the world. All because a Mom taught them the Joy of Jesus Christ in all things. Oh to be ready to say Yes when he calls, but to say Yes again when he holds back.
    Thank you for this article. I will thank the Lord today in prayer for you and your family.
    Kim

  13. Rachel says:

    I thought it was great :)
    I am a convert to Catholicism too, Easter Vigil 2011, and I loved hearing about your story. I’ve struggled with anxiety throughout my life. I think because of it, along with other health problems, it’s what lead me to want to seek the truth even more, and with a desire for a deeper faith.
    I always wondered if there was ever anyone else out there who had troubles with anxiety (specifically social anxiety) and became Catholic. I was quite surprised when I found out about you a few years ago because of your book, If Protestantism is True. My fears still can control my life, but not so much, not like they used to. Seeking God’s will, offering up my struggles, realizing everything really is not as scary as it seems, finding more confidence in myself, knowing my value… being Catholic, has helped a lot! :)

  14. Devin, as a stranger, I can attest to you (without prejudice) that the show as wonderful. My husband and I face atheism in our family and friends, so your experience really resonated. Thank you for tackling the fears of being on the show to share. I look forward to visiting your blog and reading what is already there for us newcomers. God bless you and your family!

  15. Pingback: Gallimaufry, vol. 1

  16. I’m so proud of you for overcoming your anxiety disorder. It takes a lot for someone to do that, A lot of people are struggling with anxiety since childhood and still carries it in their adult life. Different people has different ways of coping with anxiety but what always works for everyone is when they see someone like you who has managed to overcome it. As someone who is dealing with anxiety, I can say that I am inspired and empowered by your story. Your story is giving me courage to fight my battle against anxiety, I’m remaining hopeful that one day I will not let my fears, worries and doubts get the best of me.

    - Abby