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If you had known me for the first 45 years of my life, you would say I was an extrovert. I loved going places, meeting new people, and striking up conversations with all ages. I talk a lot, often sharing too much in the way of being transparent. It’s been said that I have never met a stranger. Yes, I will admit, I am that woman you see in the grocery store line starting up conversations with the people around me.

A few years ago, my life started changing, and I struggled with becoming introverted.
Though I had once loved large gatherings, now, I only wanted to sit with a close friend or two over coffee and share the details of our lives. Though my calendar had previously been filled with many social activities, I now wanted to stay home, cuddling up on the couch and reading a good book.

What could change an extrovert to an introvert? It was griefthe traumatic, devastating loss of my little girl. The day I held my daughter in my arms and said goodbye, my life changed drastically. My tolerance level became much lower. My stress built up faster, my temper flared more often, and the feelings of being overwhelmed rushed in. I no longer handled noise, conflict, drama, or pressure as effortlessly as I once did. My body required more sleep during the night and a calm, quiet atmosphere during the day.

RELATED: Being a Mom With Anxiety is Hard, But it Doesn’t Make Me Weak

This burden became so heavy that I had to ask myself why I felt so easily stressed. Then I realized my body was battling anxiety. Simple tasks that had taken no effort at all before my daughter died, now filled me with dread and left me feeling anxious. Everyday activities that couldn’t be avoided became the tasks I avoided.

One Saturday afternoon, I found myself needing to go shopping. As I turned into the parking lot, my stomach filled with knots. I knew this was a task I had to do, yet my anxiety was so severe that day I felt like circling the parking lot and going right back out into the main street, steering my van toward home. I resisted the urge, forcing myself to continue with sheer will.

As I parked the car, it didn’t get much better. I felt pressured and confined by this busy, congested parking lot with people walking everywhere. The store felt dirty, and the people were not kind. Each person was caught up in their mission, intent on completing their shopping. At one point, the most horrific music was playing in the electronics department when a few teenage boys got the remote, turned it up, and blasted the most offensive song they could find. I have never seen a store employee climb the shelving so fast to yank the cord out of the wall, even knocking the TV off the shelf to stop the perversion. Trapped in this place, nothing measured up to the calm, soothing space my mind desperately craved.

Why do I let myself get into situations like this? I knew outside commitments demanded my attention, such as a school project that needed supplies, a gift that had to be purchased, or buying groceries because we had to eat. Each task was very valid and something I needed to complete, yet the price I paid emotionally was heavy. As this shopping trip ended, I was exhausted.

Do you suffer from anxiety like I do? Does your chest ache, stomach knot, and mind fill with worries? Here are a few things I do in that space that help bring things back into focus: Prayer. Speaking truth to myself by repeating Scripture verses. Playing tranquil music. Focusing on things that bring me joy: a scented candle, a beautiful sunset, or watching a small child at play. Sitting alone in my quiet car, allowing the unhurried pace to give space for my heart to calm.

RELATED: My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

The trauma and hardships we suffer in life are real for all of us. Your trauma will not be the same as mine, but it might still overtake you, leaving you anxious, fearful, and almost paralyzed in life. It could lie to you, telling you your feelings are invalid. Maybe you feel like a failure, unable to control your emotions. Anxiety could say to you that it would be easier to escape, whether into addiction or even death. If your anxiety is controlling your life, please get professional help.

I eventually had to go on a medication that would allow my mind to rest. I didn’t think I was depressed; I even argued with my doctor that I didn’t need the help. She replied that the medication was a stopgap, allowing my body to start functioning properly on its own again. I had to release the shame and judgment I felt about being medicated to enable myself to overcome the anxiety that was controlling my life.

Once I gave in, the anxiety got better. I finally felt settled enough to do things in public, even having the energy to pour into the people I met. Life became enjoyable again, not just a task I forced myself to do. Becoming an introvert just wasn’t for me. I had to learn that medication does not equal failure, but rather, it enables true freedom.

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Courtney Mount

Millie's Mama, Courtney Mount became an author when Millie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in the summer of 2019. She is a Christian wife and homeschooling mother to nine children. She and her husband live on an 80-acre hobby farm where they enjoy playing with the kids and grandchildren. Courtney is the Author of the children's book, "Millie Finds Her Miracle" which is a gentle introduction to death for young children. She frequently blogs on Millie's Miracle FB page, shares her stories on HVFH, and has been a featured guest on numerous podcasts. She is currently writing a book about grief, surviving loss, and embracing Millie's Miracle that brought healing from cancer in heaven.  Find more on MilliesMiracle.Net

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