Isabelle Declercq developed an anxiety disorder out of the blue, and panic attacks struck at any time. Here’s what happened.

Ten years ago, I developed, out of the blue, an anxiety disorder. Really, really annoying and exhausting. I felt a permanent latent anxiety level. Totally irrational. It was just constantly there, and I could not rationalize it away.

I couldn’t believe my heart wasn’t listening to my mind. I found it ridiculous, that wasn’t me at all. I rejected this anxiety; I fought it with every rational weapon I knew. Then I appealed to the spiritual weapons I knew. I tried to cast it out, fast it through, praise it away, rebuke it, anoint it, proclaim the louder the better I thought.

It remained unchanged like a poison in my heart. I truly thought I was going nuts. I withdrew totally from normal life. It got worse and worse. I avoided every possible claustrophobic trigger situation. Even cloudy weather and walks in the woods were too heavy for me. Every situation in which I felt stuck was a possible trigger for a panic attack: trains, planes, traffic jams, hairdresser, cashier queues. … It was extremely threatening because I could fall into a panic attack any time.

What’s a panic attack/disorder like for someone who suffers from irrational anxiety disorder? Well, it develops very quickly and you know you’re about to die. You are totally convinced that this is the end. It’s not true, but that doesn’t matter, you are convinced you’re about to die. You have no control whatsoever over your thoughts. You may want to speak in tongues because your mind knows that’s best, but very quickly you give up because you feel no immediate change. The injured heart totally takes over, screaming for help. Your heart races, you are extremely agitated, you have shortness of breath and you fight that feeling with every possible means: focus on exits, eating sweets, starting conversation with loud laughs… keeping busy, I suppose.

I had several panic attacks. The first was on a plane from London to Brussels. We had landed and all passengers were queuing in the aisle, waiting to disembark. I couldn’t get out. That was the trigger. A next one happened under the MRI scan in hospital. I was about to leave (read “escape”) as the nurse checked my pulse and knew what was going on. They interrupted the session and allowed my husband to hold my arm while finishing the scanning.

What began like a latent nervousness which I disregarded and ridiculed developed into a massive hinder which controlled my entire life. I was forced to seek help. At church, I was given a quick fix: 1) become a member of a particular church or 2) confess and repent of the sin of fear or 3) pray for deliverance of demons of fear. I experienced judgment and felt ashamed. But here’s the thing: don’t feel embarrassed! Guilt will only aggravate your heart’s/spirit’s condition. This prompted me to do my research. At the Christian Leadership University (CLU), we are encouraged to take charge of our health. Get God’s insights as to what is making your heart so screaming for help. The heart is not responsive to reason; our mind is. Then what does it understand?

At the time all of this developed in my life, I took several CLU inner healing courses in my master and doctoral curriculum: Prayers that Heal the HeartCounseled by GodHealing Anointing and the Father Heart of God, all of which were extremely helpful to progress on my journey to healing. I learned that the heart may be seen as underlying attitudes, motivations and character traits. A pure or a healed heart reflects God’s attitudes, motivations and character traits of faith, hope and love.

Mine had a problem: it was filled with anxiety. I learned that inner healing is allowing the Lord to replace pictures in the art gallery of your mind, removing memory pictures that don’t have Jesus in them and replacing them with pictures that do. Why is the use of vision vital to deep inner healing? Because spirit/heart-level emotions do not respond to cognitive facts. The heart speaks the language of pictures, and only through vision can the spirit be touched and healed. Through prayer and journaling, Jesus revealed to me what negatives were poisoning my heart: unforgiveness, rejection, anger, manipulation and abuse. He revealed this layer by layer, gently, through His Spirit. He handled it on a pace that was comfortable to me.

It took me several years to recover. Sometimes Jesus used a counselor to help me and at other times it was just Him and me, even through my dreams and visions of the night. Deep hurts are healed through forgiveness and allowing Christ to walk through the scene with His healing love (John 21:4-17).

Forgiveness sets us free from the bondage of the hurts, anger and other negative emotions entangling our hearts and obstructing us from seeing Jesus into it. It will also set those who hurt us free to be touched by the healing love of Christ through us. This inner healing process is extensively taught in the course Counseled by God. I applied the principles for inner healing together with medical science. My husband Johan Knockaert, M.D. came to my rescue and started a specific treatment. There’s no shame for a Christian to take medication even during inner healing process. It will help you bridge a season where you need the help. Correct administration of medication relieves the symptoms, while inner healing deals with the roots and causes.

I got rid of this anxiety and the panic attacks. I don’t take any medication for it, and my heart is filled with faith, hope and love. I fly as much as I like; I take trains and elevators; I go to my hairdresser and enjoy every territory taken back from the enemy. Yay, Lord! Today I have a strong testimony and I know that those imprisoned in anxiety can be free from it. The Lord provided. To Him be all the glory!