Tag Archives: anxiety

A Sermonic Panic Attack

So this past Sunday was quite an adventure in my illness. I had really been struggling with the sermon. It wasn’t working. I tried writing it three times. Nada. I tried working through one of my old sermons (been doing too much of that lately). Nada. Finally I settled on a sermon that a friend wrote whom I can usually “lift” without too much trouble. But it just didn’t feel right. I knew this, but I had just ran outta time in preparation. So it goes.

The service is going fine, but the sermon is just dogging at me. I can’t get it out of my mind, and not in a good way. It didn’t feel right. As I thought through it, I didn’t know what I was going to say. There was nothing there. Just nada.

We come to the sermon hymn. Thankfully, it has seven verses so I have a little time to think. My mind is racing, but it isn’t going anywhere. I just have no idea what I’m going to say. The manuscript is up there, but it’s like it’s not even though. I finally get up to start reviewing it before I’m on.

I start the sermon. But I can’t read. I get through a sentence, and it’s like the words have no relationship to each other. It makes no sense. I try off the cuff a bit, but my brain has become a black hole, sucking all thought away into a mindless void. I am as we would say in Hebrew class, tohou wa vohou, a formless void.

This goes on for 5-7 minutes. I really have no idea how long. I have no idea what I said. I’d read a sentence, and then try to say something offhand about it, but it wouldn’t make any sense. I’m sweating, fearful that I have now been FOUND OUT for the fraud that I feel I am all the time.

Thankfully, it ended. The rest of the liturgy went fine, and bible class went surprisingly fine. But the whole experience left me shaken.

I think it was a panic attack, just unlike any I’ve experienced before.


God willing, tonight will go better.

So how’s your week?

Out of the Depths


Good Friday is really about life for me. Two years ago Good Friday, I was sitting at home, preparing for my minimal role in services. I had been on disability for about 2 months, and things were going fairly well. I got a phone call from the people that handle disability claims at our insurance company. They were just calling to inform me that since I had shown “some” improvement according to my doctor, that they were taking me off disability.

This began a series of events that I can only describe as surreal. I began a downward spiral that brought be to being suicidal. It was a gift from God that we had the divine service that day, for without that, I don’t know what I would have been doing. My pastor stayed with me as much as possible. I was a zombie, barely conscious, yet fully believing that there was no way I could get out of this, no way I could recover from such a blow. If I didn’t have the time and space I needed to heal, then I would only get worse. What was the point?

But God is merciful.

I lived.  Somehow our Lord got me through the Great Three Days.   After Easter I went to stay with some dear friends for a couple weeks to rest and try to recover some level of sanity and normalcy.  Things got better.  It took a long time, with setbacks along the way and all kinds of other gunk to go through, but things did get better.

So Good Friday for me is about life.  It’s about that life God gives to each one of us.  It’s about the Life that was given for my life.   It’s about the gift of seeing my children grow up, having friends and family who care deeply for us, and it’s about the ongoing work that our Lord does to keep us in the faith all the days of our lives.  No matter how dark the road.

A blessed Good Friday to you.


Dread vs. Guilt

I have posted on the travails of shut-in call a number of times, specifically here, and here. I’m not sure if I’m a bad pastor or what, but I have just never really enjoyed shut-in calls. Really it is more the concept of shut-in calls that bugs me more than the reality of them. I generally like the people whom I visit and commune. I don’t have a problem with them. Really the difficulty lies in the emotional drain which may go along with the visit, as well as the time, etc.

So this morning I was faced with two competing avoidance issues: Continue reading Dread vs. Guilt

Mental Retardation and Mental Illness: Who are we?


Yesterday I went to the local gym/family center type place with my wife and the kids. There isn’t anything really unusual about that, except the fact that I couldn’t have done it a year ago. But what struck me this time was that there was a group of mentally retarded young people (teens and twenties) there at the same time.Like most people, I am basically afraid of the mentally retarded. I see them, and while I may sympathize with them on a theoretical level, the absolute last thing I want is to interact with them. They are loud (or quiet), they say and behave in unpredictable ways (like children), and they look strange (like most of us in one way or another).

What was different this time was that one young man had his fingers stuck in his ears the whole time. he walked around the pool, looking, obviously uncomfortable or even afraid of the noise that went on around him. I am no expert, but I believe that one of the many common traits that often go with various forms of mental retardation is difficulty processing sights and sounds.

But this time I knew how he felt. Continue reading Mental Retardation and Mental Illness: Who are we?

One Down, Two to Go, and Panera

I’ve been off clonazepam for a week now, and things seem to be going pretty well. It seemed to help me in the past with stressful situations, excessive noise, and either visual or verbal clutter. After a week, I seem to be able to manage these things fairly well.

One of the signs for me that things were starting to resemble normalcy was Panera. I love Panera. Half of my sermons are written at Panera. But that has not been the case for some time. I just haven’t been able to handle the hustle and bustle one finds there. It’s really kinda driven me crazy.

So Monday I went to Panera, and after being there 45 minutes, I noticed that I wasn’t having the huge desire to run and hide. I know, that sounds a little silly, but it’s true. Sometimes victories may be found in very small things. Being able to drink a cup of coffee in peace, for example.

Hopefully getting of Welbutrin will go s smoothly. But we’ll try one step at a time for now…


Coming Down (going off depression medication)

Do Not Feed the Fear

So I have now been on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication for over two years. My current cocktail (zoloft/sertraline, welbutrin, and clonazapam) has been fairly steady for over a year. Things are going well for the most part, so I am starting to wean myself off of the medications.

The concept is both exciting and terrifying.

When I started taking all of this stuff, I was in a very desperate position. There were few options. It was medication or check myself into a hospital. I’m glad that I made the decision to go on this medication, as it has allowed me to live and regain some semblance of normalcy.

Having said that, there is no doubt that you also lose something by taking anti-depressants and anxiety medication. The lows aren’t nearly as low, but the highs aren’t as high, either. The anxiety medication makes it so that I don’t feel claustrophobic, but it also just makes you a little dulled to the world around you. I feel like I have been tired for two years, and that I don’t even remember what it is like to be fully awake.

I am excited to start the process of going off of them, but I’m also scared. They have served as a safety net for a long time. They are one of the earthly causes to my ongoing healing. I don’t want to go off of them, because I don’t want to go back to where I was. But I don’t want to stay where I am, either.

So there is the dilemma. I can’t stay where I am, but I can’t go forward either.

Well, actually I can. By the mercy of God, I can start this process of going off medication. The absolute worst thing that happens is that I go back it/them for a time. I am baptized. My inheritance is sure, and my future is as certain as Jesus’ death and His words, “for you”.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26