A Huge Leap of Faith

Deciding to have a baby after struggling with Postpartum Anxiety for a year was NOT an easy decision.

We had just bought the house we knew we were going to raise our kids in and started a new season of life. Things were great, and we finally began to feel settled after what had been a rollercoaster of a season…

But, I still had this longing in my heart, this deep desire to have another baby. I dealt with grieving over the idea of never having another baby for as long as I could, but this desire wasn’t going anywhere…

In fact, it was getting stronger. After sitting down and explaining how I was feeling to Matt, I realized something….

I felt broken. Damaged. I carried a lot of guilt over not being mentally stable enough to expand our family. Women are created to carry and bear children – and here I was, unsure if I was capable of doing it anymore.

I couldn’t stand the idea of our family not growing because of something wrong with me. So, after doing a lot of work with my psychiatrist, and praying and talking A LOT about it with Matt, we decided to try. We would give it 2 months, because we wanted the baby to be born in early summer at the latest, and if we didn’t get pregnant then we would put the idea off for another year…

It took two weeks. I was ecstatic, overwhelmed and excited. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.

But then, one morning when I was waiting for the kids to get up, it really hit me. What if it happens again? What if its worse? The memories of my postpartum period with Emerson came flooding back, anxiety and panic set in and suddenly I was afraid that I had just made a terrible decision for my family…

Diagnosis: PTSD

I was angry, frustrated and defeated. All the work I did to get through the anxiety and now this!? I spent the first half of the pregnancy worrying A LOT.

But, one day, I was playing with Emerson and thinking about everything that happened to get to this point and I realized how worth it it really was.

So I made a plan – a plan for the rest of the pregnancy, a plan for if the anxiety came back, and a plan for if it was worse. Having a plan made me feel a lot better, and I continued to do a lot of work on myself in order to have the best shot at a good outcome for me and the rest of my family.

Fast forward a few months and we were in labor. I’ll write all the details about Macie’s birth story in another post, but what I can say is that it went better than I had imagined. In fact, I felt more in control of my choices and what I needed than any of my previous labors, and I have the work of digging myself out of PPA to thank for that. Our hospital stay was restful, anxiety free and filled with quality time snuggling my new babe.

But, when we got home, I began to doubt our choice again. For two days I sat around, on the verge of a panic attack, waiting for the PPA to return. I woke up in the middle of the night, expecting it to come flooding back. I worked myself into a full blown panic attack, convincing myself than my descent into anxiety was right around the corner. Flashbacks swam through my mind, and I was scared. For 48 hours, I was sure that I was going to have to battle for my mental health again…

And then it didn’t come. The nightly panic attacks, the struggle through heavy anxiety all day long, the desire to just hide in my bed from the world, the insomnia, the terror….

it never came back.

What did happen was me learning that once you have experienced anxiety, you can make yourself experience anxiety over and over again. You can talk yourself into a panic attack a lot easier than you can talk yourself out of one. I was, unwillingly, sabotaging myself….

So, I put my plan into action. I called my psychiatrist immediately to talk through the anxiety and make sure it was “normal”, I upped one of medications – a decision we had already planned for by having it at my house in case of an increase in anxiety, I told my husband exactly what was going on, began taking my placenta pills and had my doctor add in another prescription strength B vitamin….

and then I got out of my own head. Each night when I go to bed, anxiety tries to creep its way in, but I’m on top of it. I remind myself of how the day has gone, recount the good things around me, and remind myself that worry and PPA are not the same thing. I don’t let myself talk myself into the downward spiral.

When I woke up today, I realized that my first thoughts were not about anxiety. They were about snuggling my baby before the other kids woke up. They were about savoring my cup of coffee early, and catching up on laundry. They were about how excited I am about the garden, and planning a canning schedule. My thoughts were normal. And, I finally realized that I am happy. A different kind of happy, a happy I haven’t felt in a long time.

I’m excited for this season of life. I look around and can’t believe that this is the life I get to live, day in and day out.

Deciding to have another baby was a huge leap of faith. Truthfully, it could have been bad. I mean, having a child is always worth whatever you go through to get there, but it could have cost us another very dark season. We chose to believe we wouldn’t. We decided to believe that God wanted to use this birth, this child to show us how far we have come.

And it has done just that, giving birth to Macie has brought this whole journey full circle.

It has shown me that its time. Time to move forward to the next season of life. Time to stop living in this shadow of PPA, of defining who I am because of it. Time to take what I have learned, all the good parts of my journey and carry them on into the next chapter. Its time to leave the hard parts behind, to say good bye to the fear, the worry and the pain.

I will always be open about my journey. I will always be willing to share my story. I will always listen to a mom share her struggles while she is in the depths of the battle…

But I won’t be there anymore. 2.5 years of my life is enough for PPA to have a hold of.

So, if your wondering, I’m okay. Things are great. I am happy, sleeping and enjoying summer with my kids. I am spending time with and dating my husband. I’m working along side him to build our homestead….

So you don’t have to ask if I’m okay.

I’m sitting here about to nurse my crying babe, with my kids fighting bed time, watching shark week and looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow will bring…

 

 

The name Macie is of French origin.

The meaning of Macie is “weapon”.

It is also of English origin, where its meaning is “gift of the Lord”.

It is also the female version of Maccius – a roman version of the name Matthew.

 

Xanax Makes Me a Better Mom…

and guess what? That’s okay.

It took me a long time to admit that. It took me a long time to “forgive” myself for needing any sort of medical treatment following my battle with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

Every morning I would get out of bed, drag myself into the kitchen, open the cupboard and take out the little orange bottle with my daily anti-depressant in it….

The label may as well have said…

“FAILURE”…

“You are weak, you wanted a big family but in truth in you can’t handle it, and now you need to rely on ME to make it through your day…”

I opened the bottle every morning and took my medication feeling defeated. Hopeless. Broken.

Then the fog lifted…

The light shined through some of the darkness, and I emerged from the anxiety feeling triumphant! So I did what every normal, sane, rational woman who never struggled with mental illness in her life would do…

I stopped taking my medication. I was healed. I was fixed. I didn’t need it anymore….

Until I did. One day, out of the blue I had a panic attack. We had been sick for weeks as a family, no one was eating well and everything was upside down. My body didn’t have enough energy to care for all of the physical needs around me, and my mind was too mentally exhausted to process the stress of the situation.

I called my psych – who I happen to love – and told her what was going on, and that I had stopped my medication weeks ago…

Her words struck me hard….

“You need to get back on your medication.”

I was devastated. I had failed again. My mind keeps continuously giving up on me, and I didn’t have the strength to fight back on my own anymore…

3 weeks into starting the medication again, the anxiety lifted and I was functioning like a normal, happy mom – still facing regular stress – but not flooded with panic anymore.

But there was still a shame in taking my medication, in needing it in order to be “me” during this season.

Then a friend once said to me…”If you had a heart illness, you would take heart medication without shame. If you had a stomach illness, you would take stomach medicine without shame. Having a BRAIN illness should be no different…”

We get so caught up in the term “mental illness” that we feel like there is something wrong with us if we need help during a season.

I felt as though I had a breakthrough…

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Needing help is NOT a sign of weakness. Realizing that I have areas of life that I struggle in and working on those to create a better me is a strength.

Ensuring that I am the best me – physically and mentally- everyday is a gift to my family, allowing shame or guilt to creep in and keep me from the steps I needed to take to heal would have left them with broken pieces of me that I was trying desperately to put together on my own.

So I will continue to take my medication, until I feel like I truly don’t need it anymore. I will take my Xanax if I am suffering from a panic attack, and I will not feel ashamed about it. I will embrace this crazy, stressful, fulfilling life and all the crazy that comes with it…

but I won’t add my own crazy by sacrificing my mental health…

We have to take care of ourselves mamas – in WHATEVER way that looks like for you. Therapy, self care and medication are NOT signs of weakness. We are not perfect and life is so messy.

So do what you need to.

Get the help you deserve.

And then shout it from the rooftops, because there is no shame in needing help.

 

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Any medications that I have taken throughout my journey have been prescribed by, and closely monitored by a board certified Psychiatrist. I recommend meeting with one if you think medication is something you may need, and let them decide the best course of action for you. Always take medications as prescribed by your specific doctor. **

The Hardest Job

Did you know that May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month?

I bet you didn’t.

Because I didn’t either, until I became one of the many moms diagnosed with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In fact, in my own little world, where everything was chugging along just fine, it didn’t even cross my mind that there would be enough moms out there suffering for us to even need a month devoted to raising awareness!

But the sad truth is, there are.

being a mother is hard|meaghanmorris.com

Being a mom is, hands down, the hardest job that there is out there. You can try to argue with me on this, but I firmly believe this to be true. We are the ones who carry the baby, endure labor and give birth. We are the nourishment providers, snugglers and the ones who never seem to get enough sleep in the early months and years. We are the meal makers, grocery shoppers, boo boo healing, nightmare calming, alphabet teaching, tantrum dissolving, nurses who are running on empty in the toddler years. We are the question answering, carpooling, cheerleading, confidence boosting, heartbreak healing, homework helping, schedule keeping glue that holds the craziness together as we wade through adolescence. And then, when the time comes, we are the empty nesters, enjoying seeing our children take flight into adulthood, but secretly wishing deep down that we could start it all over again….

And somewhere in there, we are still meant to be us. And it can get lost. It can get lost in the months of pregnancy, lost in the first few months following birth or lost in the craziness and busyness of life as time seems to fly by.

But we shove it down. We have to keep it together. We have to keep on chugging along, because moms don’t get sick and moms definitely don’t get depressed.

Except when we do.

and then what?

Well…

to be honest, I don’t know exactly what will work for you. But I do know what won’t.

Keeping it in, pushing it away and not telling anyone what is really going on.

There is no shame in admitting that something is wrong. There is no weakness in asking for help. We need to let go of the facade, break down our walls and get real.

We can LOVE being a mom and still admit that its hard.

We can LOVE our children so much it hurts, and still need to take a break.

We can look around at our life and realize we have everything that we always thought we needed to be happy, and still realize that we have some work to do on ourselves to get there.

I want to share with you a song that helped me at my lowest. I mean, when literally everything seemed to be crashing down around me and I thought it was all coming to an end, this song spoke volumes to me. I would listen to it over and over again, letting the words wash over me and grasping at the truths that I knew were there but seemed just out of reach.

So click here, if you need encouragement.

“There is freedom in surrender, so lay it down and let it go…”

If you are going through a hard time right now, and feel like you might be suffering from depression, I encourage you to reach out to someone – your spouse, a friend, your doctor….

you can even email me!

But don’t suffer in silence. Don’t for a second think that you have to always keep it all together. Don’t forget, in the craziness that comes with raising a family, that YOU are just as important.

When the darkness creeps back in

Postpartum Depression | Meaghanmorris.com

There have been a lot of things in my life as a mom that no one told me about.

No one told me how hard it could be, no one told me how lonely it could be.

No one told me that your body could suddenly go out of whack and you could suddenly become so anxious and depressed that you were a completely different person for months….

No one told me that recovery could be so hard. That finding myself in the midst of this season could take so long. That setbacks would happen, even when I thought everything was back in its right place.

Not having full control of your mind is scary. It is the scariest thing I have ever experienced, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Intrusive thoughts, shaky hands and a fear you can’t even begin to describe.

I am better. Better than I was last week, last month and last year. But I still get panic attacks. I still suffer from anxiety so much sometimes it hurts. I still get angry, at times, that this is the path God designed for me to walk.

But He did. Relapse is a part of recovery. I get addicted to trying to “fix” myself, my situation, my illness. I am learning to let go. To allow the bad days, and learn how to realize that a bad day doesn’t make a bad me. I cannot be defined by my weakness.

When the darkness creeps back in, we have to remember that it only remains dark as long as we focus on it. We can choose to fight back, to shift our focus to the light and to slowly allow it to shine brighter.

Prayer. Friends. Support. Medication.

Whatever it takes, whatever path of recovery God has designed for you, use it.

But more importantly, learn from it. Allow the setbacks to help you grow. Decide to not let the weak parts of you win, but choose to let God shine through your weakness.

Own it. All of it. The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the pretty and the ugly.

Because every single part of your story is beautiful, even if you can’t see it.

In the midst of the storm…

Here I am, nearly 17 months postpartum, claiming to be healed completely. But the truth is, some days I am not so sure.

In my life prior to being diagnosed, I had experienced anxiety, but not to the extreme that I feel it now. When things trouble me, when I am worried, when life is not panning out the way that I had planned, I get an anxiety that hurts in the deepest depths of my soul.

My bones feel weary. I feel weak. I feel physically afflicted by the mental stress that is plaguing me. I begin to spiral down into thoughts of “this is not normal”, “its all coming back”, “normal people don’t feel this way, there must be something wrong with me still.” The doctor’s call it a form of PTSD. Being diagnosed with anything makes me feel worse. Even when I have weeks in a row of not experiencing these feelings, when they come I feel broken in the worst way…..

But, today, I learned something. Something that I had heard MANY, MANY times is beginning to resonate with me.

Jesus got overwhelmed. He got anxious, stressed and worried about what He was about to face. When Jesus goes into the garden at Gethsemane he says to 3 of his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” I NEVER understood what he meant by that, until right this moment. I never understood that your soul could be so overwhelmed that you could feel physically ill…

But it can.

It happened to Jesus, and it happens to me.

But the difference is what Jesus decides to do about it. He doesn’t sit in the garden, drink coffee with his disciples and complain about what is to come, what he can’t control or what he doesn’t like about his job. He doesn’t sit there and let his thoughts run a mile a minute about the awful days in front of him.

He falls down on the ground and he cries out to his Father. Not “god the almighty king who might listen if I pray loud enough but is probably to busy to listen to me….”, but ABBA, his loving father who cares about how he is feeling in that exact moment. His father who he knows loves him and is listening to him. His father, who is going to encourage him to push through his fear and accomplish what he came down to earth to accomplish, in spite of fear, in spite of being overwhelmed.

Jesus does ask if there is any other way out, but only if it is God’s will. And God doesn’t change His plan, but Jesus’ attitude changes. He tells his disciples to keep praying because “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Sometimes, in the midst of all of our life’s messiness, I tend to spend more time thinking up ways out of it, or just venting to friends, than I do in going to God. I need to remember that, like Jesus, my body is much weaker than my spirit. There are seasons in life, especially as a mom, where we get so overwhelmed, burnt out and plagued with anxiety that we just physically feel like we can’t do it anymore. We begin to doubt our capability as a creation of God to fulfill our purpose.

But, God doesn’t doubt us. He wants us to come to Him, to vent, seek wisdom and even ask for changes.

So the next time when you are so overwhelmed you feel as though you can’t breathe, cry out to the one who knows what you can handle even more than you can……

What I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with PPD…

6things

Having a baby is the one of the most joyful, exciting, happy and wonderful things you can experience in this world. And it was this way for my first 3 births. I LOVED giving birth, and LOVED how I felt afterwards. I was immersed in this exhausting, hazy, wonderful bubble of love from the moment each of my little girls entered the world…

until I had my 4th.

Having my 4th was different in every way. The labor was different, the delivery was different, the emotions were different. I was anxious, scared, uneasy and overwhelmed almost instantly. At first I thought it was the hospital, then I thought it was being tired, then I thought it was Thanksgiving. But with each day that passed the feelings got worse.

And then 5 days after Emmy was born I was immersed in a panic stricken, depressed, psychotic state that can lasted for months and took numerous medications, family support, and a lot of time to come back from.

I am happy to say that I back to myself now – and you can read more about my journey here, herehere and here.

But there are a few things that I wish I had known BEFORE I had been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, things that I wish that my OB had told me – or that ANYONE had told me – at some point while I was pregnant. No one wants to warn you about what can happen, because no one likes to talk about mental illness. But there are some things that you need to be aware of if you are pregnant, that are not meant to scare you, but that are meant to keep you informed.

1. Postpartum Depression can happen to ANY woman, in ANY pregnancy, in ANY circumstance. You don’t have to have a preexisting mental illness, a history of depression, a bad diet, a stressful life or an unexpected pregnancy to experience PPD. In the same way, being perfectly healthy, part of a loving marriage, and having a perfectly planned pregnancy won’t prevent Postpartum Depression. It can affect anyone. And if you are picked, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you, it just means that you are 1 of countless women who suffer from this common pregnancy complication.

2. Feeling disconnected from your child is not a requirement for Postpartum Depression. In fact, being depressed isn’t even  a requirement. My first symptom was anxiety. Anxiety turned into panic, which turned into self deprecating negative thoughts. After a while those thoughts became my identity, and that led to depression. It didn’t start there. And I never felt disconnected from Emmy. In fact, I was afraid of leaving her side and had major guilt from not being able to enjoy her early months.

3. Recognizing that something is wrong, and seeking treatment early does not make you a failure as a mom. It makes you the BEST mom that you can be in the midst of an illness outside of your control. Even though I wanted to hide from the world or pretend everything was okay, I was sick and I needed help. I needed a psychiatrist, I needed medication, I needed people around me all the time. Hiding it, not treating it or pretending that it wasn’t there would have made it worse. Healthy mom = healthy family. Its okay to ask for help.

4. Effective treatment will take advocating for yourself. Not all doctors know how to treat Postpartum Depression, not all therapists truly know what it is. If you think that you might be at risk for PPD, or you are someone who likes to be prepared, get a plan in place prior to giving birth. What makes you at risk? Being pregnant. So at the very least, ask your OB about doctors and therapists who specialize in PPD in your area. If you have a preexisting struggle with depression, even if it was a long time ago in your past, creating an action plan for yourself as part of your birth plan might be beneficial. Most likely you won’t have to use it, but we make birth plans for potential complications with the baby, why not be prepared for yourself too?

5. Time is the ultimate healer. There is no magic pill or formula that cures PPD. It is hormonally charged, and it can contain so many factors that differ from woman to woman. Medication side effects affect all women differently, certain treatments work for some women and don’t for others. Some moms become depressed while pregnant, others don’t even realize it until their child is 10 months old. Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, take it easy. Don’t listen to anyone who says you will be better in 2 weeks, 2 months or 6 months. Don’t compare your illness to another mom.

6. Isolation is the enemy’s stomping ground. Don’t try to fight on your own. If you do develop a Postpartum Mood Disorder, keep a close support team near by at all times. Ask other moms for help, lean on your spouse, talk to your doctor, seek counsel from your church, request prayer from the elders. Fight against the desire to crawl in bed and hide. Seek out other moms who have suffered from a Postpartum Mood Disorder and share stories, cry together and support each other. Whatever you do, don’t do it alone.

The most recent surveys have found that 15% of births result in a diagnoses of Postpartum Depression. I am not a doctor, but I am sure that the actual number is higher because so many women don’t even know what is going on with them. Until the medical field gets on board and starts increasing education and awareness on the prevalence of this illness, we must advocate for each other. We need to be open with our struggles, offer help to other moms and support one another.

What did you wish you knew before you developed a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

Moving Forward…

I will be totally honest.

I have NEVER been more ready to say good bye to a year in my entire life, and I have had some pretty rough ones. I think that the fact that the postpartum depression and anxiety affected so many people outside of just myself though is what made it the worst. It was scary, overwhelming and has changed a lot of who I am indefinitely.

But instead of wallowing in the lost time, the events that I don’t remember or the fact that I spent much of this year in fear of myself, I am determined to forge ahead and make the best of an experience that I never asked for but am realizing that I was truly blessed to experience. I am moving forward and I want to let you in a little bit about what I have learned…

Tunnel 2

I have spent much of my Christian walk hearing about how God can really do anything, how He can turn anything into good and how He is with everyone in the midst of struggle, even when he appears to be silent. I have spent time in prayer for others and I have watched the lives of people close to me turn completely around as a result of giving their problems, concerns and desires of their heart over to the Lord. And to be honest, I thought that I had too…

And then I woke up one day and my entire world had been turned upside down. Instead of turning to the Lord, letting go and riding the waves, I threw my anchor overboard and tried to stop the storm on my own. Instead of moving along in the way the Lord desired for me to go, I tried so desperately to push against the wind and the waves, attempting to reign everything into my control.

The result wasn’t the storm ceasing, but instead my life turning into a crumbly, broken mess with a million pieces to pick up. It was overwhelming to say the least. But the Lord never stopped trying to get me to see the light. He put it on the hearts of those closest to me to rally around me, to show me His love through them. He strengthened my friendships and breathed new life into my marriage. He brought new women into my life that made me take a look at my role as a wife, mother and daughter of God and allowed to me ask the tough questions about who I really wanted to be. And then, when I was ready to listen, He used his life giving word to speak to me the truths about Him and His love for me that I know He had waited so long for me to hear.

For the first time in my life as a Christian, I felt the love of Christ I had been so longing to feel. I understood His desire to have me walk with Him, what He gave up so that I could have life and the depth of His devastation when I turn my back on His help.

Hand in hand with my Savior, I faced each piece of my postpartum depression head on and battled through each issue with my warrior at my side.

Am I healed completely? No

Am I still struggling to get off of medications that I don’t believe I need to be on anymore, as well as struggling with the fact that certain medications may be required to keep me stable for awhile still? Yes

Do I still have to remind myself DAILY that I don’t need to control everything, that certain things are not meant to be within my control, certain feelings that I have don’t deserve the power that I give them and that at my strongest, I am still a woman struggling with my own sin issues even though I am responsible for lives outside of my own as a mom? Of course

Is all of this still overwhelming?? Each and every day….

But, by God allowing my default reactions to be stripped away, I have learned to look for Him at the end of the tunnel.

And the rewards are far greater than what I could have ever imagined. I realize more than ever what an amazing, important and difficult role I have been given in being a mom to these girls. I look at my husband as my rock, partner and the leader that God always intended for me to have. I look to God first, both in prayer and in His word, to the answers to my struggles, worries and temptations.

And I feel the hope, excitement and longing for the calling that God has for me. I am so enamored with the idea of sharing my story and testimony. I get giddy with excitement when faced with the opportunity to share with other women and help them get through their own struggles, whether it be postpartum depression, anxiety, loneliness, lack of confidence or desire for a relationship with this incredible king who calls us His own.

I have already been asked to speak at two events in 2015 on postpartum depression and my journey over these last 13 months.  I am attending a conference in the summer with some incredible women who want to be just as outspoken as I do on what it truly means to be a warrior mom. I am pouring my heart and soul into a book that I want to share with the world on the quiet struggles we face as moms.

But the most important thing is that I never knew what it felt to be content, happy and in love with Jesus. I thought I did, but I didn’t…..

Because I have never felt the way that I feel now and while I don’t wish my personal struggle on any new mom, I wouldn’t trade these past 13 months for anything…

And I am never going back.

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I couldn’t come up with a title for this post because to be honest, it is probably going to be a bit all over the place.

I know that I have posted about setbacks before, and I know that they are part of the process, but that doesn’t mean that they are not just as tough every single time.

I have been in a funk – I wouldn’t even fully classify is as depression, though I have been showing some signs of apathy, and it isn’t even really directly related to PPD or my role as a wife and a mother.

This time – its between me and God, and I feel like I have got to be brutally honest. Truth brings growth right??

Throughout this whole process I have simultaneously run from God and towards Him, if that even makes sense. I had a period where I was afraid of Him during my season of incredible panic and anxiety, I had a period where I stayed up and prayed all night begging Him to come and rescue me, followed by a season of apathy regarding Him and then a few weeks of really studying the word, working on my prayer life and feeling incredibly close to Him again. It was wonderful, and I expected things to keep moving in that direction.

And then Saturday I woke up and suddenly realized that I was angry with Him, and that I had a lot of questions that I have felt have been going unanswered.

Its no secret that depression can leave you searching for some kind of meaning in everything around you, and I felt that I had found sufficient meaning in life to get my motivation back and made incredible strides moving forward. I have a purpose: serve God, be a good wife, raise godly women, and help women and families who have suffered through PPD, raise awareness and try to compel change within our medical community. I was going to bed happy, and waking up happy – at 5:30.

But lately my mind has been running off on its own again. And Saturday night I laid it all out on the table to my husband. I am mad, incredibly mad at times, that God would allow me to go through this and to have it last so long. And I don’t want to be.

For about half a day my mind was racing with thoughts, and true questions about whether or not God loved me and whether or not I wanted to follow Him. Why would I want to lay down my life, fleshly desires and wants for a life that is now riddled with bouts of depression and where I am fighting off panic attacks at every turn? While I look to David and Paul, who both battled illnesses and besieged God to take them from them, I couldn’t wrap my head around how they could still praise Him. How were they so sure that He loved them? How could they be certain that all of this was for their own good?

Why would a loving, powerful, all knowing, all encompassing God create me for suffering? Why would He create anyone for suffering? Why would He create anyone at all?

As I let my mind wander, and as I began to lose faith, I started to feel more and more disconnected from Him. I could feel Satan building up the wall around my heart and trying to so desperately to pull me away. I know he wants me to turn away from the Lord, and I know that he sees his opportunity mounting as I began to become increasingly aware of the amount of things about God that I don’t know. I was quickly drowning in my own self doubt, and Satan was standing there with a life boat going in the wrong direction…

But I’m not about to get on…

Because even when I squelch my spirit by bombarding it with questions that I don’t even need to know the answer to right now, and as I give into the same negative thought patterns that can keep people away from Jesus for their whole life, there is a part of me that still knows that I want to live in righteousness with God. I may not know WHY right now, and I may never find out until I get to heaven, but I know that there is still a desire in my heart to grow closer and closer to Him.  To know Him on a deeper level than I ever imagined possible, and to allow myself to accept and feel His love for me.

I didn’t have an awful childhood, but I didn’t grow up knowing and understanding the kind of love that Jesus truly has for us. Intellectually I know He is there, I have faith in His existence and I am thankful for His sacrifice (even though I currently am questioning why God couldn’t forgive us in the first place – it will be the first thing I ask him when I get to see him, if we are allowed to ask questions. I am however sure that it will be for a very good reason…). My mother is an emotional basket case at times (sorry mom – but you KNOW its true), and she lives life dramatically allowing her feelings to dictate her situation. Her life is creative and fun and full of light, but at the same time it has been filled with seasons of darkness, depression and apathy that brought with it its challenges. My father is as unemotional as they come about 80% of the time, growing up you never knew what he was thinking unless he was really mad. A hard worker, an excellent provider, but emotionally unavailable for a large part of my younger years. None of these things are to be negative reflections on either of my parents, all of our families have their own dysfunctions. But, what I am realizing now is that, even though I KNOW my parents love me and loved me while I was growing up, I never understood that that love was unconditional. I didn’t know how to manage my own feelings of inadequacy, and while I was never asked to live up to a certain standard to receive affection, I truly believed that my self worth, my value, was based on my choices, actions, achievements etc. Disappointing them, to me, was taking their love away and I needed to find a way to earn it back.

Unconditional – without condition….not based on acts, works, achievements, disappointments, failures or anything. Just being loved, whole heartedly and forever. That’s the way that I know that God loves us. Now I just need to figure out how to accept it. His action towards me don’t dictate the amount of love he has or doesn’t have for me, and even though I am in a season of darkness now that I never saw coming, I know that I will make it out on the other side. Maybe I won’t have all of the answers, but I will begin to see the pieces coming together.

Until I can feel it, walk in it, not question or doubt it, I have to make a choice to believe it.

To believe God created me for a reason.

To believe that life has great meaning, despite the fact that I can’t understand it right now.

To believe that God is walking me through the battle right now.

To believe that He loves me – no matter what my day looks like.

Perhaps all of the other stuff doesn’t matter. Maybe we will learn it all when we get to heaven, or maybe we will get there and not care anymore.

Maybe like the writer of Ecclesiastes says – everything that we think has meaning is meaningless, that we just need to walk in righteousness with God with our very best effort, and learn how to find joy in the midst of it all.

I expect all who are reading this to hold me accountable when my faith is wavering, when my spirit is saddened, when doubt begins to creep in a fog up my mind…

I choose to believe that God is faithful. I choose to believe that I will get through all of this. I choose to believe that God loves me.

I choose to be happy.

A small step back…

I am not sure why this happens…

As soon as I am ready to announce “I am all better”, I have a setback. Something happens that triggers my anxiety and literally takes me back weeks in my recovery.

This week it was lack of sleep. Scarlet has been waking up in the middle of the night on and off for weeks, but last week was definitely the worst of it. It seemed as though as soon as I finally finished up my things and got into bed she would wake up, screaming, demanding to leave her room and would be up for HOURS. No amount of consoling, bargaining, bribing or yelling would get that kid back in her bed for the night. She literally would stay awake until 4 or 5 am. A couple nights Matt got up early for work and sat with her so I could attempt to get one or two hours of uninterrupted sleep but between her, Emerson still eating in the middle of the night at least once and Autumn getting up at 6:30 it felt like I was up around the clock for days.

I can usually do okay with little sleep – 3 or 4 hours and a pot of coffee and I can get most things done that need to be done.

But not sleeping for longer than an hour without someone waking me up for 3 or 4 nights in a row? Apparently that I can’t handle. I didn’t even notice the depression creeping back up. I knew that I was tired, the kind of tired that coffee can’t fix, but I didn’t realize that other things were falling apart a bit. I took a nap here, a nap there when I could, but then suddenly all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch TV. I could barely get out of bed again. I forgot to make dinner. I was questioning everything and losing control of my thoughts again. I was slipping back…

And then the overwhelming anxiety, the fear of never fully getting better came over me and once again I felt like a failure. What in the world is wrong with me that I just can’t seem to get past this and stay there. Why can’t I be like the other moms who are better now, who don’t have setbacks, who don’t worry about everything, who aren’t afraid of themselves. I so desperately want to be me again, to be able to juggle everything without dropping any of the balls, no matter how many there are.

But I am beginning to face the fact that perhaps I never was doing that great of a job at juggling. In the process of keeping everything else up in the air, I forgot about me. When things get overwhelming, when our schedule gets full, I forget that someone still has to take care of the person who is holding it all together. Perhaps it was ignoring my own needs, stuffing away my fears and anxieties that brought me to this breaking point to begin with. Maybe, just maybe, when life gets a little busier, a little more stressful, a little bit overwhelming, I need to make sure that I am putting in extra time taking care of me. I don’t need to feel guilty, I don’t need to feel weak, because in taking care of me, truly taking care of me, I am ensuring that everyone else will continue to be taken care of.

Why is it so difficult for us women to realize that the one person who needs our attention the most sometimes is ourselves? We volunteer our time, services, aid, support and advice to everyone around us, but we ignore our needs. I can’t even tell you how many times that I have given advice to someone that I needed to follow myself…and didn’t.

So, as much of a hell that postpartum depression is – and it is hell, like literally tortuous, never ending, life sucking hell at times, it has opened my eyes to one thing that I had been pretending didn’t exist for so long. It has shown me that I am a person, an individual, a woman, created by God for my own purpose and while that purpose might include being a part of the upbringing of these four beautiful girls, and it may include being the help mate and partner to my amazing husband, it is not solely those things. My purpose, my journey, my path that God has me on is mine alone, and I am deserving of my own attention.

Guest Warrior Mom

Throughout this postpartum depression journey, I have had the wonderful experience of making incredible friends. These women have walked the same path as I have, and have been such a lifeline to me. If you would like to join one our online postpartum depression forums or groups, send me an email and I will gladly give you more information.

While a large number of these women share openly with us, and keep their journey private from others, a great number of women are choosing to speak up and speak out about their experiences.

Tonight, I have the honor of sharing some wonderful poetry sent to me by one of these incredible friends. I hope you enjoy getting a different look into the experience of another warrior mom.

“Why Do I Cry”

For me it feels like a lie

How are you they cry

I smile and say all is good

look at her in my arms

But at night I hold you in my arms and cry

I am crying because I lost

I am crying because I love you

I am crying because I am failing

I am crying because I am happy.

The feelings are all mixed up

The smile I have for you is real

The love I feel for you is true

yet I cry when I hold you

I love you so why do I cry?

Erin Ramirez 4/10/14

“Invasion”

Stopping the invasion isn’t easy

Preventing the outcome is impossible

I can’t control how they come

I can’t stop it when they do

Landing on my knees I cry

Here I am take me now

Stop the invasion

Stop the intrusion

Protect the little girl

Save the boy

Wake them up tomorrow

Protect, Save, Surrender

Erin Ramirez 5/16/14

The author of these posts shared her struggle with me, and especially her struggle with intrusive thoughts.

For those of you who don’t know what they are, Intrusive thoughts (ITs) are defined by Wikipedia as unwelcome involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that may become obsessions, are upsetting or distressing, and can be difficult to manage or eliminate. These thoughts can be both paralyzing and debilitating and are incredibly frightening. ITs are a common part of postpartum mood disorders and are most commonly associated with OCD and psychosis. They were one of my own personal demons while on this journey.

Katherine Stone has written a wonderful article describing symptoms for these disorders, including postpartum OCD, here.

Thank you so much Erin for being so willing to be open to these readers!