A few years ago, I spent 5 days in the hospital being treated for anxiety, panic, and depression. As part of my discharge plan, I was required to attend 12 hours a week of group therapy. I absolutely loathed it.
On the days we had group, I went around dreading the 3 hour session. Once there, I spent the time in the corner of the room, on the verge of tears. I was unwilling to participate, or if I did, I did so reluctantly. I did not want to share anything; I did not want to hear their stories, and I did not want to participate.
All I could think in my head during those painful sessions, was “No, no, no. I do NOT want to be here. I HATE this. All I want to do is go home. No, no, no.” My heart was broken and I was torn up inside. Having to withstand more was like insult to injury. The clinical social workers didn’t see that I actually felt worse.
Instead, I was threatened with an ultimatum: if I didn’t finish out the therapy, they couldn’t bill my insurance, but I would become responsible for the entire cost ($2-300 sessions, plus private cognitive-behavioral therapy). Praise be to God that somehow, I received permission from my doctor after just 2 months to stop attending.
There was, and is, something about “group therapy” that grates on me. Maybe it was the openness to strangers who did not share my faith in God (however little and withered it was), or the group exercises that I felt were pointless and based on pop-psychology. All I know is that every fiber of my being cries out against it.
Even work, church and social gatherings were a source of anxiety and panic for me. There have been too many Sundays to count where I have literally driven to church, parked my car, walked up the front steps, and tuned on my heel and gone home. I have abandoned plenty of parties, meetings, and fellowship groups because of the overwhelming anxiety that plagued me. Managers have driven me home from work and HR requested I take a three-month leave of absence to get well. I could not bear to appear in public and open myself up to others. An evil and life-draining force suffocated me and did not allow me to rest.
It pleased God to slowly bring me out of the depths. He did not forsake me, He only allowed me near enough to the precipice to feel despair, pulling me away at the last moment.
About once a month some girls from church get together for breakfast where we chat and read scripture and pray for one another. As we were together this morning, I thought about how far I have progressed. The dark time serves as a strong reminder of my depravity. And to think how He saved me from that, I can glorify Him all the more because of it! Now, I am able to look forward and enjoy coming together to share a table with my sisters. I get to share their burdens and be aware of how God works in the world.
How good God is to us! Praise be to God!