Church—Confessions of a Sufferer of Anxiety—the Real Truth
Since my mother passed away, I have made it a point to go to church every Saturday night… when she used to go. And where she used to go.
You see, we decided to have her memorial mass at that same church. As a person who struggles daily with panic and depression, I had to do “exposures” before her memorial. My therapist went with me one night when the church had no one in it. My boyfriend went with me a few times. The memorial came and I survived. What an embarrassment it was for me when I couldn’t just be normal and sit at the front of the church with the rest of the family. I felt like a failure.
My mother never really understood my anxiety although at times she was my only cheerleader. She could plop herself right in the front row without any problem.
For my mothers memorial, I had to take a sedative and still for half of the service, I sat in the middle. I then decided that it was not right to have my brother sitting at the front by himself (although he had his family with him). I went to the front and sat in the front row. On the end. I panicked for a bit. But I stayed there.
Since then, I have made myself come to mass every Saturday at 5 pm. I’ve only missed one time.
Why do I panic? I don’t know. All I know is that the thought of going to church makes my heart race and my stomach become upset. How I wish I didn’t feel this way.
I remember as an elementary student, kids would pass out during mass. Could it be from that? Maybe. Very possible. When my dad would take me to church we usually stood in the back.
Tonight I have the same feelings.
And I am sitting in the back. The very back … next to the door. I am so ashamed. So sad. I just want to be normal. I don’t want to feel so ill.
I see so much more now a days. I am not only concerned for my own feeling of nausea but if all that I see. All that could go wrong. Someone passing out. A few rows up from me I see an older man bouncing and swaying as the first song is playing. Is he okay? Is he going to fall out? Is he going to have a seizure. Oh my gosh, maybe it was not such a good idea that I cane tonight. I can’t bare to see this.
In front of me, a man and his wife move in and take their seat. He looks like he could be a doctor. Oh my gosh, what if something happens to me or someone else? We’ve heard it before… a doctor just happened to be there and saved a life.
The priest that is here tonight must be filling in for our regular pastor. He is of foreign decent. He takes me back to when I used to go to St. Matthews as an elementary student (with Father Isaac). I can smell the scent of that church just thinking about it. I should go back and visit they church (where everyone always seemed to pass out). I think I might do that, I think to myself.
As he goes to read the gospel, he pauses for a long time, turning the pages… He starts to read but my mind goes to the thought of “oh my gosh, is he okay… is he going to pass out?”
That doesn’t happen. As I type this, I am understanding some of what he is saying. Surrender.
I realize that my stomach has settled.
We pray the creed and intentions are said. Praying for those who are sick in body and mind. Lord hear our prayer. Praying for those that have departed …
I then go back to think of my mom again. I try to hold back the tears. I miss her so much. It’s so hard… so hard to hold them back.
As we kneel I feel a little sick.
It is now time for communion. I walk to the front and feel a little weird. Oh I hope I can make it to the front. I do. Every Sunday, I look at the spot my mother used to sit. Oh how I miss her. I walk back to my seat. I decide not to think anymore… not to pray too much. As this is the time that the tears tend to stream down my face. I hold back and end my quick prayer.
The priest then blesses us.