My head throbbed. It stung. It felt like it was being poked by tiny slivers of glass.
All I could think about was everything I had to do, and how I wasn’t doing it.
It started the first day of school, spring semester of my sophomore year. No, actually I don’t remember when it started exactly, but that is when I really noticed it. The headaches. The headaches came whenever I angered or stressed. They came in little bursts, just like how long I was upset. Soon they started to come in longer sessions. This is when I would go weeks with one constantly there.
It would be so distracting. Sometimes I couldn’t think of anything else but my headache. And sometimes it was like it wasn’t there, until I thought about it. I began to stress even more because of them. I would worry about not being able to do homework or go to class, or think straight. People that I would mention it to would throw out extremes that made me ache even more with worry.
But no, this was not when it started. This wasn’t the first time I felt like this.
My second semester of my freshman year of college is when I first felt the physical effects of anxiety (Spring semester must be cursed). I have always sweated more when I was stressed, even more than I already do. I have hyperhydrosis, which pretty much means, I sweat…A LOT and when I stress, it pretty much doubles. I was stressing so much that the sweat glands on my hands has swollen into red, itchy, stinging bumps.
I went to the health center at my school and saw a doctor, who reminded me that I have hyperhydrosis and talked to me about stress. Then he suggested I see a psychologist/therapist. I was outraged.
Therapists were for people who had something wrong with them. They were for people with completely messed up lives or brains. They were for people who were mental. Gosh. This doctor thought I was crazy. That is what I thought.
This last semester when my headaches became an issue, I went to the health center again. I saw someone who I trusted. I was told I was having chronic tension headaches. I was given an anti-inflammatory medication. I was talked to about stress (in a much kinder way). I was told that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to think about seeing a therapist on campus. They could talk to me about better handling my stress, because stress isn’t going to end after college. I will always have it. I considered this.
I must say I was still quite cynical of therapists. But a little less so after some things that had happened with myself and others I knew the past year. I still thought: therapists were for people who didn’t have friends to talk to. But I was desperate; more desperate than I have ever been in my life.
The first session was free. What could I lose?
For those of you who know me well, this was a huge step for me. You might have heard me say this before but I do NOT like asking for help. So Ali Clark going to a therapist might have been a hilarious joke to some…or a giant concern.
It was a lot different than I thought it would be. The first session she tried to get to know me. We talked, like regular people do. We discussed why I came there, what was happening. We found out we both love the Lord and strive to follow Him.
After each session she gave me an assignment. At first it was, do breathing exercises, write down times when you don’t have anything scheduled, try a relaxation CD, things like that. Then it became, find time to spend with God, read your Bible, pray, be silent, bring your favorite Bible verse and tell me why it’s your favorite.
It made me realize. God uses people to work in your life that you never would have thought He would use. He uses things that you would never have considered doing. He pushes you out of your comfort zone and helps you grow in ways you never imagined you could. He takes your stereotypes and crushes them. He shows you that you do indeed need help, and then He gives it to you.