Agoraphobia had gripped Patsy Clairmont to the point where all she could manage was to make it to her neighborhood grocery store and safely home again. With grunt work and grace, Patsy discovered recovery.
She shares with us some of her story.
I was a mopey child, a sad teenager, and a depressed young wife and mom. Yet I didn’t realize that these were signs of someone who needed, at the least, a cheerleader and at best a therapist.
My moods became my daily life, and my sadness deepened. I was angry, fearful, and anxious. And still, I didn’t realize I needed help.
I was a natural saleswoman/storyteller, so I hid my oddness behind a curtain of convincing excuses and caustic blame.
Even I believed my behavior was other people’s doings and not in my control, which is a good way to stay stuck.
However, the day came, after several years of living an agoraphobic lifestyle of constriction, that I had to make changes. I had regressed into my bed and prayed for a disease that would justify my weirdness.
I prayed for a disease that would
justify my weirdness.
Something in me at that juncture shifted, and I knew I needed help. My weight was 83 pounds, I drank enough coffee every day I could have filled the Nile, I smoked like a chimney, and I was addicted to strong tranquilizers.
I cried out to the Lord in a way I never had before and told him if he would tell me what to do, I would do it.
In the past, I had asked him to fix me in the night while I was sleeping. I put the onus on him, whereas he suggested we share my recovery in that I would do all I could, and he would do what I couldn’t.
Gratefully, we came to an agreement.
I needed new mercies
May I just say it’s a good thing God’s mercies are new every morning because I needed them.
I went back to my family doctor who I had worn to a frazzle, and who had done all he knew to do for me.
This time I asked him to send me to someone who could help with my kind of issues.
He recommended me to an area self-help group called Recovery, Inc.
There I found other people who were struggling with full-blown anxiety (I thought I was the only one) and together we learned mental skills that helped us feel and function like average people on a daily basis.
It was so hope-giving.
They weren’t easy skills, at first, because of all of our bad thinking habits we had to change, our lazy muscles that had atrophied from lack of use, and our anxiety levels that were stirred by the drama and exaggeration of our thoughts and words.
It takes time and grunt work to get well, or least it did for me.
To tell you the truth, I’m still getting well.
I think I’m about three spark plugs short of a full connection. (Can you tell what generation I’m from? I mean, do cars even have spark plugs anymore?
I remember when we slicked our hair with Brylcream or Dippity do and brushed our teeth with Ipana toothpaste. Our favorite shows were Howdy Doody, Toast of the Town-Ed Sullivan, and The Nelson’s.) If that’s all Greek to you, then I’m your grandmother or great granny.
Still having to monitor my Mental Health
Do not be discouraged that I am seasoned with years and yet still need to monitor my mental health.
I have traveled the globe, spoken to millions, and I’ve had the privilege of writing multiple books.
I’m still married to the same man (57 years) and most days he still likes me.
So be heartened you can push through hard seasons and have a full life, whatever that means for you.
But let me ask you
- When did you take responsibility for your mental health?
- What have you done to maintain a good conversation with God, yourself, and others?
- What changes have you made that shows your progress and courage?
Acknowledge your maturity. Thank God for how he has made you. And remember praise and gratitude are healthy habits that breed goodwill and humility.
May I encourage you to read and rest in the comfort of the 23rd Psalm.
- Say it.
- Rehearse it.
- Sing it.
- Memorize it.
- Allow it to protect your mind.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[d]
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely[e] goodness and mercy[f] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Psalm 23 NRSV
Patsy Clairmont is a writer and speaker and lives in Franklin Tennesse. Read more about her on her website.