K. Leung, Dec 2012
I have always been a person without any religious beliefs and did not have any real interest in seeking God either.
However, today I would like to tell you how the Lord had delivered me from my ten years of affliction. No word could adequately describe my gratitude to God and His love to the world. More than twenty years ago He had reached out to me but I ignored His calling. I thank God that He has not forsaken me, but has led me out of my hopeless condition and helped me conquered the battle against the devil.
If I was asked this question: what is the most tormenting thing in life? I would reply, “losing your freedom’” I do not mean being detained by someone or being put into prison, but being controlled by an unknown force of fear.
Agoraphobia is a type of panic attack which is now a well-known illness, medical science has not yet discovered the root behind this illness, nor have they found a solution for this condition. The doctor couldn’t explain my condition; nevertheless I had been prescribed medicines to take.
I encountered my first panic attack in 1996. I could not explain why all of a sudden I was overwhelmed by intense fear and anxiety. The strong feeling of something disastrous may happen to me any moment was forceful, and I had the notion that there was no way out for me at all.
This panic attack occurred only once every few months at first, but gradually it became more frequent and I was experiencing it a few times per day for the past ten years.
This condition had affected my life dramatically, since I was afraid to go out of my house. Just the thought of having to leave my house made my blood freeze and I would break out in a cold sweat and my whole body would shake uncontrollably. I have stayed within two miles of vicinity from my house since 1999. I had no social life at all; friends and family gradually became quite distant from me. I could endure the agony from the illness, however, the accusation and sarcasm from my family was extremely distressing to take. They scoffed and mocked me due to my fear of leaving the house.
Many times when the fear attacked me I was helpless and vulnerable, it was as if I was engulfed by complete darkness and not even a glimpse of light could be found anywhere. It felt like no one in this world could pull me out of this and this tormenting feeling could drive someone mad.
Though going through these traumatic events I have told myself to stay strong. However, as I continued to hear my family’s sarcastic remarks, their consistent mockery of my illness made me broke down in tears for the first time in ten years.
I preferred not to talk to people about my condition; and of course I could find no one to talk to anyway. Not only had I lost my freedom, I had also lost my friends and family. My confidence and dignity had also disappeared; I have lost all hope of living.
For the past ten years I was like a living corpse, staggering along an icy, endless road in the middle of a cold winter night, unable to see any light or help at all. The thought of carrying on life like this for the rest of my life was devastating, depressing, and demoralizing for me. I thought I was going to live the rest of my life in fear, disappointment and despair.
Between the year 2000 and 2003 I have not been out to work. Fortunately I have learned how to use the computer and I was using the Internet to help me keep up to date with the current affairs of the world. At first I felt more at ease as there was no need for me to go out, but gradually I was being attacked by fear while I was at home as well. I was always on my own when this happened and there was no one I could speak to regarding this, as no one could understand what I was going through. I have therefore decided to keep them to myself.
At the beginning friends and family have said to me, “Don’t think about it too much because it’s all in your head, you need to go out more often and it will be alright.” They have forgotten that I had always been active, so my condition was not due to the fact that I did not go out. My family and friends began to distant themselves from me; I felt as though the whole world has deserted me. But at least I had a little relief from all the people who had been constantly telling me to go out more often.
As the days went by I did not want to see people anymore, as I was embarrassed to admit my fear of going out. No one could comprehend what I was going through; this awful illness took away my confidence and dignity and I felt more inferior and lonelier than ever.
Some of my family members have been spreading rumours that I was suffering from mental illness; I was deeply wounded by their comments. Though I had been oppressed by my condition for a long time, my mind and heart was quite conscious and clear about everything around me. I pray that people would restrain their mouth when they come across something they do not understand. The weapon used most for destruction is our words; I have personally experienced the injury caused by people’s words during the last ten years.
I started a business venture with my sister and her husband in 2003. It was a small business working from home which suited me quite well. I am still grateful for them as it gave me the opportunity to work in a completely different career field. Not long after the company was set up my sister and her husband migrated back to Hong Kong, and I was left to deal with most of the work, liasing with customers and suppliers through the telephone and via email, as well as handling all other paperwork.
I have put up with people’s criticism and rumours about my condition; I also encountered much injustice while working from home. I tolerated with them because the business not only provided me with adequate income, it has also brought back my confidence and a purpose in life, and I felt less inferior. I did not want to be the useless person that people has been speaking of.
I constantly experienced panic attack; there were times when I was struggling even to breathe. I went out into the garden on cold winter days just to get some fresh air into my lungs. I was trapped by this unknown force and did not know how to get out of it, and the most distressing fact was that I was facing this alone each time it happened, and there was no one nearby to comfort me or to help me.
I knew very well that medicines and doctors could not help with my condition. I dreamed that perhaps one day a supernatural force would rescue me out of my hopeless situation. But then again, this would be too superstitious and unrealistic.
During the ten years I often asked myself questions such as why did it happen to me and when would my suffering going to end? Was there any other higher force or power which could help me? Was life playing a kind of joke on me, and was it telling me something which I should know. I found no answer whatsoever.
Apart from interacting with clients and suppliers on the phone; I spent other times on the Internet. I continued to live in the virtual world.
It is quite easy to put blame on other people for one’s sufferings and misfortunes. Instead of focusing on how to get out of their own situation, some people may intentionally draw you into their misery, hence allowing themselves falling deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit. The last ten years I kept reminding myself that no matter what I was going through, I must not be a burden to others, or to blame them and take my anger on them. This would not lessen my suffering or improve my condition at all.
To my dismay after ten years my condition did not improve but it had turned for the worse. 2009 was the most miserable and depressing Christmas I have ever spent. I was extremely sad and depressed every single day, I have lost all my motivation to do anything. I wanted to cry but I held back my tears, as I was afraid that once I started to cry I would become too weak to stand up again.
In January 2010 I finally broke down, I was too exhausted to continue fighting this battle, it did not matter to me whether I live or die anymore. Tears came flooded down my eyes as I protested how life had treated me during these ten years of agony, and I was ready to give up all hope. Another side of me was battling with this depressive thought: I don’t deserve this ending and I don’t want this ending after ten years of struggle. I need to help myself as I don’t want my life to end like this. I still have so many things that I need to do!
During this distressing time something extraordinary happened. Something prompted my heart to get in touch with certain relatives. I have not thought about contacting anyone for many years. This further grieved me as I could think of no one close by to help or to comfort me. I began to feel bitter about many things including all the disappointments and sufferings I had been going through. I hated this feeling of losing a battle and ending in this pitiful state. Yet I gave in to this state of mind and allowed myself to fall deeper into this pit.
The prompting continued in my heart, “Do not give up, stand up, I have been waiting for you to come back!”
Who could this be? I asked myself. Who is waiting for me to come back? Have I made an appointment with someone? Was I having illusions? Suddenly my memory took me back twenty years ago to when I was going to a church with my cousins. Church?! I started a ‘conversation’ with Him.
“Are you God?” I asked
“You know it. Come back!” He answered back.
“Will you help me?” I requested.
“You need to stand up first.” He replied.
“I am too exhausted to stand up.” I protested.
“If you believe you have the strength you will have it, if you do not believe you have the strength then you will not have it.” He explained.
“If you are God, why did you allow me to go through all these sufferings? Why can’t you lift me out of this pit straight away?”
The conversation ended without Him giving me the answer. Many questions ran through my mind, such as, was it really God talking to me, I didn’t even know Him, why did He speak to me and want to help me? How was it even possible for me to communicate with Him anyway?!
I finally made the effort to contact my cousins and they came to visit me very soon. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and their arrival brought a glimpse of hope back into my life.
Despite the little hope I gained back, in those days the fear inside of me grew much more intense. I was aware that this would affect my general health. I began to lose my appetite and I was not sleeping well. I woke up every day full of despair and fell into a depressive state; I found no reason to continue living. Those were my darkest hours and I was expecting death to knock on my door anytime.
My cousins came to celebrate my birthday with me in February 2010, they have come to visit me several times prior to this and I was quite pleased to have them around.
However, on that day I forced myself to talk to them as I was in a total melancholy and depressive state. That particular day I also felt strangely restless and scared. I wanted them to stay with me a little longer as I did not want to be facing the unbearable feeling alone. My cousins left quite late in the evening even though they had to go to work early next morning.
I am grateful to my three cousins for staying and being with me on that day. Had God not brought them to my home I would possibly have had a nervous breakdown. Their presence was a great source of strength for me on this darkest day of my life. I am grateful to God for His plan.
We prayed together on that day. I wasn’t a Christian and have never prayed before and was not sure what the purpose of praying was for. Nevertheless I joined in as I was in a total helpless and anxious state of mind; I needed someone to give me a life line, and if prayer worked I was willing to give it a try. During the prayer I felt a spark of electric current flashed across my forehead, and I was terrified. Afterward I told my cousin about this and he said he felt the same thing. He also added that it was best to ask a Pastor to help me with my current condition.
Since I found no other option I agreed to their suggestion. They told their Senior Pastor about my condition and this Pastor asked me to ring him directly. I was a little hesitant to make the first move as it had been a long time since I had spoken with strangers. But something spoke to my heart, “Do it, it is time to start walking out of this. Do not be fearful, I am here!”
I finally took the courage to ring the Senior Pastor. The voice at the other end was considerate and understanding which gave me tremendous comfort and assurance. The Pastor asked me to repeat after him, “I receive Jesus Christ as my Personal Saviour!”
In February 2010 God ‘instructed’ me for the first time – Don’t complaint!
The following week I gradually became calm and the restlessness in my heart subsided. I actually had the desire to go out of the house! This was because God said to me, “Go out, you are free when you take the first step, drive your car!”
I have not been driving for over ten years. Could I do it? My husband could not believe I was able to do it. I reassured him and asked him to have faith in me.
However, as the car reached the main road fear grasped me and I began to tremble. But God continued to say to me, “Do not be fearful, I am here!”
After driving for a short while I stopped the car, I was overwhelmed by joy and excitement; I have finally taken the first step!
For the past two years I have encountered and overcome many hurdles by the grace of God. The Lord has been a constant source of my encouragement, comfort and confidence. The first time I went out of my usual vicinity to visit my cousins I was in a hurried to get back home. But today I am able and confidently visit them whenever I like and stay at their home however long I wish without any nervousness.
I am still not one hundred percent recovered from the condition, but I believe I will! God will not allow me to suffer the torment again, because if I do not want them He will not allow them in my life! I have decided to take a stand to fight against these attacks and He has been faithful to fight them for me. God so love the world, He loves us and calls us His children and it is not His will to see us struggle and suffer in life.
I sincerely hope my testimony would encourage or help people who are going through depression, panic attacks or other mental illness. I know how it feels to be afflicted with such terrible illness. Above all, God is the one who knows what we are going through and He is able to draw you out from any suffering or affliction, if you would open your heart to Him. He doesn’t demand a pay back from you, He is God!
My prolonged experience of such awful illness should have left me in a bitter and wounded state of mind. To my amazement I am totally at peace when I ponder about the past ten years. These dreadful memories still sits at the back of my head but they have not come back to haunt me, neither have they added any sorrow to me when I think about them. It is as though they have nothing to do with me, and to this I am extremely grateful to God. No matter what you are going through I believe God is ready to pour out His blessings on you too. He is able to help you using His ways, only if you open your heart to Him are you able to receive His love for you.
You may still not believe this God exists, don’t worry, continue to tell yourself that you want to be a good and virtuous person, let your heart be at peace, then God will touch your heart and you will not doubt Him anymore.