Since all of you seemed to enjoy my insanity so much last week, thought I’d tell you some of my other examples. Somehow it doesn’t seem as scary when it’s shared, or perhaps we love hearing of other people’s problems because it makes our not seem as bad, huh? My first actual claustrophobic attack was when I was pregnant with Talia, so 27 years ago. Terry and I had gone to Cozumel, Mexico for a vacation in October of that year, so I was about four months pregnant. We took a trip to see the ruins of Chichen Itza, the Mayan city near that area. I remember more about the trip to get there than the actual ruins (probably because I went nuts while there!) Anyway, we left Cozumel with all these grand hotels and resorts, filled with people spending money like crazy, and we head to these ruins, probably an hour and a half drive or so. All the way there, you saw either nothing or these little huts made out of tin or cardboard roofs, straw walls, little half naked dirty children standing outside these places watching the bus – it was gutwrenching that just a half an hour away from all this prosperity were these homes that were barely held together, children living in squalor. I could hardly stand looking out the window, I was filled with such guilt.
When we arrived at Chichen Itza, they had all these things to see that were architecturally impressive, and Terry wanted to go in this pyramid type deal where supposedly the sun shone in a certain hole and made a spot or something at a certain time and it showed how they kept their calendar and how intelligent these people were. Well, I didn’t want to stand outside, had no idea what going inside would really mean, so in we went. We get in there, and there is a little hallway thing that could not have been more than three feet wide, at the most. People were going up these stairs, and other people were coming down, face to face, right on top of each other, hot as could be in there. It never even occurred to me that this would be a problem until we got up about 12 stairs out of the who knows how many, but by then, I was committed, you might say, pushing my way up these stairs with tons of people behind me pushing, others pushing coming down. I began to hyperventilate, to panic – it was dark, hot, people shoving in literally every direction. There was no way out, no way, other than keeping in your line, going all the way to the top until you could get on the other side and come down. I don’t know how I held it together, but it was an absolute nightmare. I sure didn’t pay any attention to that sunlight hole, that’s for sure! By the time we got out, I was a wreck, crying, gasping for air, pregnant on top of it all which probably exacerbated the whole thing. I threw myself on the ground and just lay there crying and gasping. Terry just walked away like he didn’t even know who I was! I would have done the same thing. It worked for me, allowed me some time to get my sanity back. I guess that incident should have warned me that there was something residing in my psyche that did not like tight, dark, enclosed spaces.
My dad tells this story about being stuck in a very low crawl space, trying to do a chore, and he got panicked and claustrophobic. He’s telling me this after I’ve had a few incidents. He says, “I said to myself, ‘Now, self, you’re gonna make it out here, just settle down!’” Dad is just hilarious, and we still all say to each other, “Now, self, you’re gonna make it!”
After the cruise incident, I began to be afraid that I was really going to be debilitated by this, and then that way of thinking made me even more nervous. Isn’t it amazing how your mind can make your mind worse than it is? That was deep, I know. I had had another incident fairly recent after coming off the cruise, and it was in a situation that any reasonable person should not have gone nuts, so it was a real concern. I had the kids with me, and they were probably six and eight or so, and we had driven into a car wash to get the car cleaned. It was in the winter, and as soon as we drove in, the doors on each side of the car wash went down. I didn’t notice it at first until it began to get dark and the water began to swirl and then I could see that I couldn’t get out. I began to pray and was trying to calm myself, and the kids noticed I wasn’t okay, so then they started asking questions, and by then I was really worked into a state. I was sitting there calculating how much that door probably cost because I was about to head through it when it finally opened. I was crying by then, and the kids were crying because I had scared them, and I could hardly see to drive. They still tease me about it today.
I have, however, noticed that it only happens if I am extremely stressed, if I am exhausted beyond comprehension or have pushed myself to limits that you really shouldn’t push. If I am relatively normal in my schedule and my commitments, I’m good to go. It seems to me God is telling me, or my body is telling me, when it is time to get a grip on my life. I’ve had a couple other “almost” incidents, but not to where the panic really overtook me as bad as these. A few years after this happened, I was getting ready to go on a cruise with my cousins, and Tom and I had gone to the Greenbrier’s medical clinic to get an annual checkup deal, and while there, I realized that my trip was a week or so away and if I had a problem, I would need medicine. So while doing my physical, I told the doctor about my cruise incident and that I was going on another cruise and a little concerned, and could they prescribe me some Valium just in case I needed it so I didn’t have to make another doctor appointment. Seemed like a good idea at the time, until I got the evaluation back and there were about two paragraphs about my health, which were all good, and about three pages of details about my psychological issues, making me sound like I was a total nutcase. Tom says, “You better shred and destroy that thing, because if any employer gets ahold of it, you’re toast!” I said, “Well, if they think about shoving me into a pipe or something, they should be forewarned, I guess!” You can bet I will not be taking a tour of a coal mine any time soon. I’ve often wondered if I would get kidnapped or something and stuck in a trunk, would I have this superhuman strength and be able to kick the backseat out? I’m thinking so….
While we were in Israel a couple of years ago with our kids, we went to see this incredible underground walkway that was under the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The architectural details of all these things are amazing to me – the vision to dream them up, the intelligence to design them, the will of the people to chip away at rock and stone for years on end – it was truly inspirational. This walkway was fairly spacious in light of it being underground and out of stone, and we were plodding along fairly well when all the sudden, we were stopped and in kind of a holding pattern in the dark there. I’m beginning to sweat a little but keeping quiet and Tyler pipes up from about ten feet behind me, “Mom, how you doing?” I hiss back, “Don’t bring it up!” About two seconds later, Talia begins to wail and begins shoving people to get by. There was a man who was kind of shoving back at her like she was being rude, trying to cut line. Tyler and Jimmy both jumped forward and said, “She’s sick, she needs out, get out of the way!” By then, I was joining her. We both pushed our way to a little alcove in the rock where there was a light, and our people who were with us began singing a calming hymn, maybe Amazing Grace, and before long, we were settled down. Isn’t it amazing how music can truly calm the savage beast, even the mind that is beginning to lose touch with reality? That helps me probably more than anything, singing praise to my King, asking Him to touch my mind and my soul and give me peace and rest.
In all these things, Jesus, I praise You, the giver of life, the one who calms the storms, my healer, my Savior! If you don’t know Him, if you have storms that need calmed, need a friend who sticks closer than a brother, message me and I’ll help you find your way!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.