Welcome back to the Broken Crayons Still Color podcast! I’m your host, Shelley Hitz and today’s guest is Tiffani Riveron.
Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are realities many of us face, even when in Christian ministry. However, not many people are willing to pull back the curtain and reveal the real struggles they face. In today’s episode, Tiffani will share what was her well-kept secret for years and how she found freedom and healing.
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SHELLEY. Welcome back to the Broken Crayons Still Color podcast! I’m your host, Shelley Hitz and today’s guest is Tiffani Riveron. Hi! Tiffani.
TIFFANI. Hi! Shelley.
SHELLEY. So good to have you, and you know I really appreciate the courage of all of our guests. And in our society depression, anxiety, and panic attacks are realities that many of us face even when in Christian ministry.
However, I really not heard too many people willing to really talk about it and pull back the curtain and reveal the real struggles they face. So in today’s episode Tiffani is going to share what was her well kept secret for years and how she found healing and freedom. So, thank you much for being here Tiffani and I really appreciate your willingness to share with us today.
TIFFANI. Thank you for having me Shelley and I’m just glad to be able to, to share really what God said in my life.
So I’ll just start off with my broken crayon experience. It was, I experience depression during my teenage years and finally struggling with anxiety and panic attacks and I was a Christian and it was in a midst of serving as a missionary in another country.
TIFFANI. And, depression would always come and go in my life but the pinnacle of my health issues I’d say was the panic attack and the anxieties that I experienced and again I was on the mission field. And I always thought Christians didn’t have any business being depressed or depress and with panic attacks.
So like you said before this was my secret shame and those who knew me they never really would even fathom that I suffered in this way. So, I just want to tell you a little bit about a panic attack because for those people that don’t know, you kind of say what is a panic attack.
TIFFANI. But, those that are listening, what happen is, is like your, your heart is literally raising and pumping out of your chest and you could be kind of sweaty and cold and clammy all at the same time but it feels like whatever air you’re in is just closing in on you. And you feel like you’re suffocating and that you’re going to die from, literally die from suffocation.
TIFFANI. Yeah, it’s something you really can’t describe unless you’ve been gone it, gone through it and you actually feel like you’re taking your last breaths in life. You try to scream out but your voice doesn’t come out or your mind thinks that it doesn’t and just, I mean it’s just crazy things that happen and you, you ultimately feel helpless and hopeless.
SHELLEY. Wow, so, yeah and you know that is a powerful thing that you were talking about just how on the outside everything looked okay!
TIFFANI. Yeah, yes.
SHELLEY. Your social media profile would have look like Tiffani was rocking it, she was, she’s a missionary, she’s out there serving God! And yet you had this inner struggle and so many of us can relate. So many of us can relate to having it altogether and yet having issues like I struggle with the pornography addiction for 2 years when I was in Christian ministry as a married woman. And so, tell us a little bit more about like what, what was like your rock bottom place or just to relieve the the turning point for you?
TIFFANI. Okay, well at first I’d like to mention that I don’t know what’s God thoughts are because the bible says His ways are…
TIFFANI. higher of our ways and just incomprehensible but I believe that God brought the situation in my life my broken crayon experience for two reasons. The first reason, it was for God to show me that I am not in control.
SHELLEY. Amen! (LOL)
TIFFANI. Major control issue, major control issue, and to be honest is still creeps up at times but panic attacks was one of the ways that my body try to fight against the power struggle of me not being able to get the control that I want it. So in this experience, God showed me my battle with self will.
And the second thing I believe He gave this to me as, like a thorn because I’m able to help others in what I’m doing now with this broken crayon experience. And the lowest point in the whole experience was fear. I used to be paralyzed by fear not to go out of my room my house where I was at because I feared my next attack. I lived from panic attack to panic attack. It wasn’t from day to day.
TIFFANI. Or week to week or month to month, it was not in calendars speaking it was in panic attack speaking. So my fear was I would be out and this would happen to me and no one know, would know how to help me and I used to fear that I would die literally because of all the physical phenomenon that happens to you that I fear dying and being expose in people not knowing what to do.
So my turning point, it was really coming to the realization that God had not given me a spirit of fear.
TIFFANI. But a power and of love and a sound mind, and that sound mind means disciplined mind. And in the middle of the panic attacks I would pray and, and, and quote verses and cry out to Jesus, I did everything I thought was the right thing to do but nothing seem to work. So here’s what happen, when I was in a normal state of mind, and I mean I wasn’t like flipped out all the time you know, it was more normal than not normal.
TIFFANI. But when I was in the normal state of mind, I came to the realization that God did not give me that spirit of fear but rather He wanted me to have a sound and disciplined mind, and some people maybe questioning right now.
Yes, God did allow me to go through the mental health trauma but it wasn’t of God. My panic attacks stem from my own desire for control, it was my self will, my inward lack of dependence on God but reliance on myself. And, now I didn’t know all of what I’m mentioning to you right now at that time, it has taken me years to figure this out and I’ve been able to figure out the how’s and why’s of God’s hand that I can’t see that he’s allowed me to see, and the hurt and the control issues, I can’t figure that out until I was willing to open myself up to the Lord, I cried unto Him.
Lord search my heart, try me and show me my wickedness and my shame and help my hurt and most importantly make me dependent on you. And I want it so badly to experience His hand and His glory especially in this situation in my life. So, that’s kind of a turning point and how it all progress in what happen there.
SHELLEY. Yeah, and there so much wisdom packed in that and I think that you know our listeners are all in different places, on different stages and even people who deal with these types of issues, you know the root could be different things but I think there’s so much wisdom about that, that desire for control and just really learning to lean in and depend on Christ and on, on Him. You know because that’s a daily struggle for me.
SHELLEY. And, I think it’s, it’s just such a great example. And, so are you to the point now where you’re not having the panic attacks anymore?
TIFFANI. Right. I don’t, I can feel, when it’s coming on again, it’s that ultimate control. When I’m in a situation and I know that in any time it can come, I’m never like decades away from it, you know it’s right here.
TIFFANI. But God had showed me how to, how to basically stop then fully depend on Him. So no, I haven’t, I don’t experience them, I can’t even tell you the last time that I went through it but I can tell you that if I allow myself to be dependent on myself and control extreme control, I know it can come back at anytime. I’m not above it.
SHELLEY. Yeah, and that’s I think a beautiful expression of what many of us face that have struggled with something you know in the past, it’s like its, we’re healed, we are free but doesn’t mean that it’s, you know it’s never a struggle or a temptation.
SHELLEY. Or something again that’s how I feel sometimes with pornography. But you know as we start to close this session I could talk with you forever Tiffani. (LOL)
But, if you could give one piece of advice or encouragement to our listeners, what would it be?
TIFFANI. Well, I, I want to talk to those that have panic attacks and can identify what, what am I about to say.
SHELLEY. For sure.
TIFFANI. If, if, you’re honest and you’ve experienced panic attacks for any length of time then you know that secretly it’s easy to crave that feeling, and adrenaline that’s felt during the peak of an attack. And so for better explanation for those of you listening, it’s like a high but in a different sort of way. And, those of you that have them before I want you to believe and read and quote and realize and know in your heart the bible verse that God tells us, He did not give us a spirit of fear.
It’s very addictive Shelley, and it’s a feeling and, I’ve experienced it before and if you are there where I had been, I want you to reach out for help. I’m not necessarily saying go straight to the doctor’s office and I do like to put a disclaimer some people do need medical and pharmaceutical treatment to balance things out in their body and people told me that I did as well but in the end, what I did was I sought the help of those who loved me and knew me, and in the end God directed my steps and those around me they had no idea how to help me.
Because like I mentioned before and you mentioned too Shelley, the mental illnesses or sometimes “hush-hush” in the Christian realm.
TIFFANI. But they’re, they’re real and they do exist. And, but me exposing myself to others and humbling myself before God, God was able to lead me in being my own counselor and seeking help from Him and heal out me to work through those issues, through personal soul searching and the prayers of others and the awesome power of God was poured out in my life. And God, Shelley let me tell you.
TIFFANI. He healed me, He cleaned me, He showed me, me, and He showed me His power and His glory that was able to filter my thoughts and make me little in Him my all in all. So that’s my advice for anyone that’s listening that’s going through what I’ve gone through before.
SHELLEY. Yeah, amen. And I really do appreciate you talking about this because we do need to talk about it, we need to be talking about this types of things in the church, we need to be offering hope and we need to be sharing the realities of life and so.
SHELLEY. I just really appreciate you sharing. And if someone would want to get in touch with you, how could they get in touch with you?
TIFFANI. They could go to tiffaniriveron.com.
SHELLEY. Awesome. Well, you know I just, I, I realized that I could to you forever but you know…
SHELLEY. In closing I really believed your story again shows that God can take our mess and turn it in to a masterpiece.
TIFFANI. And Shelley, with that being said I want everyone to know my name is Tiffani Riveron and I am a masterpiece.
SHELLEY. Oww, you are and God is using you in powerful ways and He has created something incredible with your life. So thank you so much for joining us today and for listening and if this, episode inspires you and you would love to share your story or you know someone who has a story to share come over to shelleyhitz.com/story and apply and we will see you next time. Bye!
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