Sometimes Ministry is a Pain in the Chest

Sometimes ministry is a pain in the chest. 

Especially if you have an anxiety or panic disorder. 

Yesterday I learned that first hand. It began like any other day; I was a little more easily irritated than usual and having some trouble breathing, but otherwise ready to do the ministering thing. Staff meeting at 10:30, visits after that. 

After my first visit I drove back to the office. What was I doing? I didn’t even know. I did know that I’d had anxiety and panic attacks before but this was different. 

After describing my symptoms to the insurance help line nurse, I was advised to call 9-1-1. I said that seemed extreme. 

“Ok, then can you go to the nearest ER?” 

“Yes,” I said, and hung up the phone. 

Psych! I wasn’t about to do that – my ER co-pay is $$$. 

I called my PCP whose nurse, after talking to me, asked me to come in right away. 

I went to my pastor’s office, super embarrased by the tears I couldn’t keep inside my eyes and said my doctor  wanted to see me right away. 

So I left. 

“What precipitated your chest pain?” He asked

Me: “A conversation with my therapist. I had a chronically ill family member growing up; I was always expecting the worst from one day to the next.”

Dr.P: “Makes sense that your parishioners being in a similar situation might trigger you like that. Do you still talk to her?”

Me: “Of course. We’re great, I was just always afraid she would die. Sometimes I cried until I fell asleep.” 

Dr.P: “So, she’s alive.”

Me: “Yes.”

Dr.P: “And she’s doing ok.”

Me: “Yes.”

Dr. P: “So you’re just traumatized.”

Me: “Apparently.”

After a physical exam, Dr. P makes sure I have enough Ativan. 

“I think you’ll be ok. You don’t have to decide today, but eventually you’re going to need to make a decision about what kind of career you really want so you can have a good quality of life.”

My decision is two-fold:

1) to throw myself into self care and take it seriously; more than I ever have before, and 

2) a multi post series on my blog over the next few months on ministering with and through anxiety. 

Tonight, I shall rest well after working for a bit on hand stitching my Lenten stole. Thanks be to God. 


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