I received a lot of feedback from my last post and I am so very grateful for everyone’s kind words and prayers. I shied away from writing for a bit after my last post because the last one was so hard to write and because, to be honest, most of the time I am not even sure what to write. To be truthful and honest, things are not great all the time right now. This journey is proving to be a tough one for me emotionally, and though the worst of it is behind us, most days I am too mentally spent to write much of anything or too apathetic to care. Not to mention my focus and clarity seem to be off from time to time, making it hard to write as I did before.
This past week alone has been a complete rollercoaster, filled with sick kids, sleepless nights, horrible weather and a setback in my battle with my anxiety. By Friday I was emotionally drained and exhausted. I couldn’t pretend any longer that things were getting increasingly better and I started to open up about my setback with those around me, allowing myself to be a bit more vulnerable and taking down a bit of the façade. It proved to be a wonderful release of some emotions that had been building up all week, and Saturday proved to be much better, but ended far too quickly. This seems to be the pattern lately, the good days rush by in a blur leaving me wanting more and the bad days just hang around way too long. I woke up Sunday as I do most days, anxious and having trouble getting out of bed. Toddlers, however, have proven to be a great remedy for this, since they jump up immediately ready to attack the day and if I don’t follow suit I have found that they can get into a lot of trouble in a very, very short amount of time . Thankfully Scarlet can’t get out of her crib…yet.
We made it to church on time, which always seems to be a miracle in and of itself. I am always so glad for our church. Our church family has consistently been a source of support for us throughout the entire 3 years that we have been attending. However, I have never felt closer to this group of loving people than I have during this time in our life. Walking in to service is like coming home every Sunday. There are fewer greater feelings on this earth than walking into a room full of people who love you, and there is no shortage of love and strength in that fellowship hall.
Aside from the people at church, the presence of the Lord has been astounding to me during recent services. And it is the service today that has me sitting here writing, no matter how much I don’t feel like it right now. The Lord has truly been speaking to my heart during services more than ever before, and I am so grateful to be able to feel it, especially since during the week sometimes I feel such a disconnect from Him that it makes my heart sad.
As the first song played and we began to worship, I felt the Lord continuously drawing me to Galatians 5. In the spirit of transparency, I am going to admit that I am not a person who has a lot of scripture memorized. It is a weakness that I struggle with in my faith, and one that I didn’t truly recognize until going through this season of anxiety/depression. So when I kept hearing “Galatians 5 – freedom”, I wasn’t even entirely sure that I had it right. But sure enough, Galatians 5:1 “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].” And then as if to solidify it even more, our worship leader began to also talk about this same chapter in Galatians. It was one of those “Okay Lord – you have my full attention today…”
And as the teaching on faith and unbelief began today, my spirit began to tug at my heart. I had never once thought of the notion of purposeful unbelief. However, once our pastor began talking about it, I began to feel convicted. I have been struggling this week in starting to believe that nothing good is ever going to come from this season. You see, I thought that postpartum illnesses went away quickly once they were recognized. After the initial weeks of absolute hell, I thought I was on the road to a speedy full recovery and that I would be sitting here by now telling all of you about my previous experience and what it taught me, not sitting here in the midst of all the ups and downs, unsure of what to say. When that didn’t happen, my faith began to waiver this week.
The thing is, I have seen others in the depths of struggles much harder than mine come out better on the other side. I have seen the work the Lord can do in others and walked in faith and prayer alongside others while they went through their own trials. I have seen others refined by the fire, but for some reason when it comes to myself, I still do not feel worthy. I still have a hard time believing that the Lord would want to do a good work in me. And even when I have heard the whispers of the Lord telling me that I should begin telling my story more in the midst of the struggle, I ignored it…
Starting today I will begin to write more often and truthfully about the state that I am in. I don’t know if this is just a cathartic release for myself or if someone else out there needs to read it, but none the less here it is….
If you have not read my last post about how this all started, you can read it here. To pick up from where I left off there, I am still, more than a month later, in the process of healing. There are days when I feel amazing, aside from the anxiety over whether or not I feel terrible the next day and then there are days when I don’t want to get dressed, leave the house, or do anything. I slip into these little funks where nothing is enjoyable or has “meaning”. My mind starts questioning everything around me with things like:
– “Why does it even matter if I pick up and just let everything be a mess…”
– “Who are you anyways, do you even have any purpose??”
– “What the heck are you going to do with your life when you can’t even make it happily through a day….”
– “Does anything in life even REALLY matter??”
When I have slept better and have more energy, or when I am feeling slightly rejuvenated from meeting with friends, getting out of the house or working out these thoughts are pretty easy to combat. But throw in a couple of sleepless nights, missed workouts, poor eating and being cooped up inside for days (pretty much what all of last week looked like) and it’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t have the energy to fight off the depression and it just suffocates me for awhile. The feelings of apathy can become overwhelming at times and then I just sit and cry. The anxiety now seems to be stemming solely from the depression, which is actually a positive. I no longer fear anything specific (you know like driving in a car, getting sick and not being able to care for my kids, being alone) but I do fear not returning to my former happy self.
This past week I have really pulled away from the Lord, reading scripture and praying out of anger. I got really upset that I was going through this and couldn’t think of who to be mad at. It definitely didn’t help my situation any, when just glancing over at my bible caused me anxiety. The fact is that prayer and reading scripture is helping, and that I need to strengthen my faith to get through this, not run from it. It was a pretty good lesson this week.
The natural ways that I am attempting to combat all of this is with a variety of vitamins (B vitamins, D vitamins, folic acid, fish oil and probiotics mostly). I also had started a workout regimen that seemed to help a lot, but with 4 sick girls this week that got pushed aside. I am hoping to be back in the gym this week at least a few times. I know that exercise is proven to help in the battle against any type of depression/anxiety, so I am looking forward to prioritizing that some more. I LOVE running, it is such a stress release for me, so my plan right now is to try and get 3-4 good runs in per week. I have also been playing around with my diet to see what helps. Feeling gross from food issues might not be making things worse, but it definitely won’t make things better. Plus – I am an emotional eater and downed nearly a whole pan of fudge during one depressing night. Gaining 30lbs is def NOT going to help me on my road to full recovery.
In terms of medication, I am still taking Zoloft and I am up to 125mg. I am, however, not sure how effective this medicine is for me anymore. While I had originally thought that it *might* be starting to work, I now truly don’t know and I am meeting with a doctor this week and next week to figure that out. I have had some funky side effects, like blurred vision on occasion, weird dreams, memory loss and what I had thought was some worsening depression. The truth is that I don’t know how depressed/anxious I would be had I not started taking the medicine, so I am hoping to find out what the next best course of action is. I know that there are a lot of different medications and that they affect everyone completely differently. I am hoping that I will find some relief with the right meds/dosing, should my doctors feel that I need to continue being on them. I know that there is a lot of stigma attached to these medications and I don’t think that it is fair. The truth is, now that I am on them, so many people have “come out” to me and told me that they too are on antidepressants for this or that. I am choosing to believe that the Lord has placed me with doctors who will give me the best advice for my individual situation, and that we are lucky to have to many different options to help combat these types of mental illnesses.
What I am grateful for is that I don’t feel any disconnect from any of my children, including Emerson. I know that for some moms connecting with their babies through this can be very difficult and I feel so awful for them. There is nothing worse to a mom than the feeling of guilt when they feel as though they have failed their children. While there are times in caring for my girls right now that I feel as though I am just “going through the motions”, I still feel very connected to them.
And if nothing else good comes out of this, I know that I will forever look at my husband in a different light. He has been my rock through all of this, talking me down and bringing me back to reality time and time again. He works so hard at work and then comes home and does whatever we need him to do that day to keep our home running as smoothly as possible. I am so incredibly grateful for him.
Going forward, I am hoping to write every few days or so about how everything is going – truthfully. The highs and lows of the days and what I am learning through all of this. My goal is to try to give an honest view into my personal experience with postpartum mood disorders.
What would be even GREATER is if any of you moms out there who are either going through this or have gone through this wanted to add your own comments and experiences! We could get a genuine conversation going about something that so many of us will experience in our lifetime as part of our crazy motherhood journey. I do ask that you please keep anything written positive – lets not pass any judgments on each others choices in the healing process.
If anyone has any specific questions, or wants to chat personally you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your continued prayers!
This smile is worth the struggle.