She grasps the steering wheel tight and feels the pressure against her finger tips. Her thoughts go straight to what she needs and her eyes are focused on what's ahead of her.
"The Lord is my shepherd," Stella Maxwell said to herself in the car during an anxiety attack. “You don’t give me a spirit of fear, but of power and love.”
Driving for 30 minutes to an hour was her tranquility during the time she was diagnosed with massive depression and anxiety. When in her new home, anxiety and depression took over her thoughts and body. She feared being alone.
Stella, a new wife to a soldier in the US Army and a new resident of the United States of America, was experiencing dark thoughts and fear of loneliness.
She was born in Romania to Hungarian parents and raised in Germany. A tall, slim, young, beautiful woman focused on having fun, enjoyed the night life in Nuremberg, Germany.
In December of 2002, a young American man wearing a button up short sleeve shirt with a fine-lined mustache approached Stella as she swayed in her figure-hugging outfit.
“What’s your name?” asked David Maxwell.
A year and half later on April 18, 2003, Stella found herself saying, “I do” to this American soldier.
“I didn’t think it was going to last. He’s going to go back to the US,” Stella said of her marriage and husband.
Stella continued living her life in Germany when David went back to the US. She stayed out late in the clubs and partied a lot until her husband visited her for two weeks and asked her to live with him in the US.
“Oooh. I pictured LA and New York. I was going to have even more fun,” Stella hopefully said.
In 2004, she packed her bags and got on a flight to the US to be with her husband. She landed in the middle of farmlands.
“This isn’t the US. Where am I?” Stella asked in complete disappointment.
She was in Lawton, Oklahoma- where you have the sights of cattle, Wichita Mountains, Lake Lawtonka and… that’s it.
Three weeks after her arrival, her neighbors invited her and her husband to church. Stella was raised Catholic but hadn’t been to church since she was a teenager.
“That’s what married people do. I’m a wife now so I should go,” Stella convinced herself.
Stella, who knew very little English, sat through the entire church service not knowing what the pastor was saying. But she felt the Holy Spirit’s presence and it spoke to her. She found herself walking towards the alter in front of everyone in the church.
Other members of the church’s congregation joined her as the pastor prayed over them.
“I’m in the Devil’s church,” Stella thought after witnessing members speaking in tongues and falling to the ground. “What did I get myself into. I’m never coming back.”
She had never seen anything like that and freaked out, but the next week, she found herself back at the church.
She began putting effort into learning God’s word by reading the Bible, which also helped her learn English.
About two months later, her life took an unexpected turn.
“The Devil was attacking my mind,” said Stella. “I truly believe he did not want me to fully dive into God.”
“In the beginning it was you know- I’m afraid to be by myself,” Stella recalls. “It started out as little thoughts like, ‘oh man, I’m lonely. Nobody really cares what happens to me’.”
There were days where she didn’t want to get out of bed, called into work and stayed home. She feared something would happen to her.
Then the fear progressed into a phobia.
“It was so extreme in my life – this phobia- that I was unable to stay by myself period at home,” said Stella.
The phobia progressed into psychosomatic disorder, meaning her mind (psyche) was causing her body to develop a physical (soma) disease.
“It starts in your mind like, ‘oh my gosh you’re about to go crazy. Something is wrong with you.’ Then of course your body- you’re sweating, your heart is beating, you cannot swallow, you feel like you’re about to pass out,” Stella describes the anxiety attacks she experienced for five years.
Many times, she thought she was having a heart attack and went to the ER. She started seeing psychologists and was given all sorts of medicines, such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Xanax.
“It was so extreme that when this attack came- this anxiety and depression- I had to literally leave my house,” Stella recalls.
For over a year and a half, there were nights when she got in her car and went out for a drive to calm down because being home brought on anxiety attacks, even with her husband there. At the time, her husband was not someone she relied on for support. He did not understand what she was experiencing and often gave the usual hopeful words, ‘you’ll be fine.’ But these words never helped Stella and made her less dependent on her husband.
“He thought because I was always this bubbly person, it was about to pass,” Stella said about her husband.
One night, Stella went into her bedroom and locked the door. She pulled out her husband’s gun and sat beside her bed. She wanted to end this pain and suffering once and for all. She contemplated where to place the gun to feel no pain once she pulled the trigger.
She placed the gun in her mouth.
“As I was debating, pulling the trigger, this overwhelming peace, joy – I cannot even explain it. It was like somebody was in the room filling me with this love,” Stella recalled.
She placed the gun down and began worshipping God.
“At that moment, I realized that my life was not my life. I could not take my life,” Stella said.
Between the years 2003 and 2005 she experienced five miscarriages. She became pregnant for the sixth time and during this pregnancy, she didn’t experience depression nor anxiety attacks. She was so excited to be pregnant that her focus was more on the pregnancy than on herself. She had her first child in 2006- a beautiful baby girl.
After she had her baby, her mind and body were once again under attack. She couldn’t eat and started losing weight. She slept for one or two hours a day and hated the zombie-like feeling after taking her medication.
“If I’m feeling like this, I cannot take care of my baby,” Stella said to herself, fearing the effects of medication.
Stella started chopping up the little pills into four pieces and taking little pieces at a time- thinking that’ll help her feel better.
“Now, I’m afraid of everything. I’m afraid of medicine. I’m afraid of going out- I’m gonna stay in the house,” Stella remembers.
She found herself spending thousands of dollars on natural herbal remedies in hopes of getting rid of whatever is going on inside of her. She was desperate, but it didn’t help.
After five years of experiencing depression, Stella stopped fighting the battle herself.
“Lord there’s no help. I’m spending thousands of dollars on emergency rooms, medicines. My marriage is suffering. I have a little daughter who doesn’t know how to be a child because I’m just running. Lord, nothing that I’ve tried in the natural has helped me,” Stella prayed and surrendered. “Lord you are the only one who can help.”
Two months after saying that prayer and giving her troubles to God, Stella experienced a day without anxiety and depression.
“A day went by. A week went by. Oh my gosh what is going on? This is not normal. I’m experiencing peace,” panicked Stella. “Now I’m freaking out because I’m experiencing peace.”
Stella was free from the chains of depression and anxiety. She realized all she had to do was turn to God and use His Word to fight- not medicine, not the natural remedies- but God Himself.
“There are so many ladies going through this, but they don’t acknowledge that we are three part beings. You have to apply the spiritual, the mind and the body.”
Stella did not know it at the time, but going out for long drives and quoting scriptures helped her calm down from the anxiety attacks because she was making herself whole. During the anxiety and depression attacks, she felt as though she was not connected to her body.
“In your mind- you cannot think clear. You have this fog. It’s like you’re outside looking in,” she explained.
So, by being in the car and grasping the steering wheel, the natural touch of the steering wheel triggered her mind- reminding it of her body. Then she spoke scriptures out loud over herself, thus connecting and applying her body, mind and spirit.
“This starts to calm the mind down without any anxiety medicine,” Stella explained.
Stella continues to live a free life worshiping, praising, glorifying and loving God. She now works with Dr. Keith Miles counsel patients battling mental disorders to physical abuse to marital issues. She is still happily married to her husband of 13 years with two beautiful daughters.
“In this time that we are living in, a lot of people are struggling with depression and anxiety, especially women,” said Stella. “But we cannot just focus on the spiritual and do nothing in the natural. We need all three parts to be active.”
Your Heart Is The Production Center- Stella Maxwell
Scriptures- YouVersion Bible App