Anxiety and Shame in Chronic Illness
The day was sunny and beautiful as we drove into the parking lot, but I did not feel much beauty in my heart. In fact, sudden tears rose unbidden to the surface as the medical center came into view. I had been to this same parking lot many times in the past year, but I had carefully kept my back turned to the door that led to the Infusion Center. But this day, I could no longer avoid it. I was headed straight to the same area that had left me reeling almost exactly a year ago. I could feel my heart pounding as my husband wheeled me into the room where the nurse led us.
Prompted by blood pressure considerably higher than normal, I told the nurse about my last visit there for an infusion that went horribly wrong. She casually remarked, “It sounds almost like some PTSD is going on in you,” and then she brought me a warm blanket and pillow for my arm that was having an RA flare. Her comment, given with such kindness, caused me to look more deeply at this anxiety in my heart.
The post traumatic stress I was feeling gave me an inkling of the anxiety and shame that has become part-and-parcel of chronic illness for so many of us:
- memories of failed medications
- the haunting fear of what might happen with the next treatment
- neglect when medical staff turn us away
- the shame of feeling left behind by a health-full culture, both inside and outside the church
I pondered these thoughts as I sat with my Savior the next day, as the after-effects of the infusion settled in. They were nothing like the deep trauma I had felt last year, but they were enough to remind me just how awful those symptoms had actually been. Yet I also knew I had been showered in the grace and kindness of my Savior, who had not once left me alone. So I asked Him, “What is the depth of this stress I’m feeling?”
Carry Each Other’s Burdens
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2 NIV
Instead of lifting me away from the uncomfortable side effects, He reminded me of every medication failure I have been through. He asked me to remember and lift before Him every time as a child I had sat alone while my mother faced her own medication failures. I had thought myself strong enough then to carry those burdens and hurts by myself. My mother had often asked for prayer, but how often had I asked for prayer for her? How often had I held back from asking for prayer for myself?
These burdens we carry are too heavy for us to bear alone or to hide away in the recesses of our hearts. Jesus wants to uncover our anxieties and show us that He is with us, but He has asked us to be with one another too. . . .
I am so blessed to be sharing this story of how Jesus met me so recently in the infusions I have faced. Will you join me over at Chronic Joy Ministry to read more of the story along with me? I would love to have you join me, as together, we lift our shame to Him, and find the blessing that comes in praying together.
Click here to follow me over to the Chronic Joy Website. And while you are there, why not visit the #PrayerPond, where God asked me to share my own prayer request too. We can share a request, and then #PrayItForward by clicking on the button that says “I prayed for this.” Every time that button is clicked, a message will be emailed to the one who had requested prayer. We are joined together, heart and hand, to Jesus.
And He wants to meet us in our praying.
I cannot find the words to express the deep thankfulness that I am walking in, as I feel all of your prayers for me through this time of new medication infusions and the after-effects. God’s faithfulness is such a firm foundation for those who trust in Him: