Every now and then, she returns; like a long lost companion. I was happy to see her go, but there is a comfortable familiarity in her presence. I know this feeling like the deepest part of my heart. It’s easy to sink deep into her embrace and hide in the knowing; easy to erect a canopy, spin a cocoon, retreat to the dark place where I have an excuse not to feel. When I feel the pit in my stomach open up, and I don’t want to face the world, it’s hard not to let myself be swallowed.
My old acquaintance, Anxiety is knocking at the door again. Her soul-mate, Depression, is not far behind. She calls in to my heart, and says it’s all just too much to handle- “the kids, your job, the housework, your marriage, the maze called social life. You really don’t know what your doing, anyway, and you’re bound to mess it all up. At any moment, your entire life could come crashing down like a house of cards. Let me in, and I’ll protect you.”
Today, someone searched Google for the term “stay at home mom overwhelmed.” I laughed when I saw it, because today, I’ve been overwhelmed. I’ve felt like I needed to write this for myself, but now I think I need to write it for someone else, too.
I had my first bout with anxiety after my first child was born premature , and I couldn’t breastfeed. Having a baby rocked my world, not only because of the post-traumatic stress of having preeclampsia, an emergency C-Section and a premature baby. I had always been able to control my life pretty well. I could decide what to do and do it, which served me very well in college and my career. As all mom’s know, you cannot control a newborn baby. It was just her and me and the unpredictability, all day long. She couldn’t breastfeed, as I had convinced myself that she absolutely must. She did not conform to the schedule, which my book told me she should. It was winter, RSV season, and the doctor said we had to keep her home, inside, with very few visitors for at least 6 weeks. So the panic attacks started coming, and all I wanted to do was to escape life, to sleep, to do nothing.
To make things worse, I had adopted a lot of spiritual pressure, as well. If I was struggling, it was because I wasn’t letting God heal me. I should trust God enough to let go of the anxiety. I should pray more, study the Word, and I should be in a state of joyful surrender and peace. Then, when I struggled at my former church and sought counseling, one of the elders said I was “spiritually unstable.”
With the help of my wonderful husband, friends and mentors, and medication, I got better. Looking back, however, I realized I had always struggled with anxiety to a certain degree. It took this trauma to bring it out to such an extreme, but I was thankful for it, because it explained so much that I had been through in the past. Does that make sense?
A few years ago, after my third birth, I had a relapse. I had to adjust some medication, which made it worse for a while. I would cry every morning as my husband went off to work, and I was sure I wouldn’t get through the day. It took a lot for me to reach out. When I did reach out to an older woman who had been helping me out tremendously with the housework and the other kids, I was extremely hurt. She basically said that I needed to get over it. That I was not dealing with anything more than other women had to go through. Furthermore, since we were currently leading a small group at church, she voiced concern that my private feelings were not living up to what I was portraying in public. She basically called me a hypocrite.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over that one. I really don’t think she has any idea how much that conversation cut to my very soul, and it is so hard for me to trust people anyway. I forgive her, though, because that was the way her generation dealt with these things. They covered them up, and just endured the pain.
Once again, God was faithful to pick me up, provide the right medication, the right emotional healing, and I was better again. But it was a little confusing. He had healed me the first time, right? Why was He allowing me to go through it again? The same despair, fear, and wounding from others who didn’t understand? Although, this time it is not nearly as bad, I still feel it. And I’m asking the same question again. Why?
And the answer is, “My dear, sweet daughter, I must let you fall so that I can lift you up.”
My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness (2Cor 12:9)
And although I hear my old companion knocking at the door of my heart and mind, I will not let her in! I will trust in my Father to hold me while I feel these emotions and let them go. My God is faithful.
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10)
I consider my life-verse to be Psalm 40:1-3.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
I’ve always thought of this verse as describing my moment of salvation, because without Jesus, I was truly in a slimy pit. But now I realize this verse is for me every day! He does not lift us out of the pit once, but continually, day by day. Even through the hard times, He is right here, lifting me up. And I will wait patiently, for He has heard my cry.
If you are feeling any depression or anxiety right now, realize that you are not alone. There are many others who have been through this, and can help you. You are not crazy, or “spiritually unstable,” and sometimes you can’t “just get over it.” I encourage you to seek out professional help, as well as close friends who can hold you up. Most importantly, cry out to the Lord! He will hear you, and He will lift you out of the pit! He will keep lifting you up, any time you need Him.
To my dear friends, and readers of this blog: Thank you for giving me an outlet to process these emotions in my heart. Many times, including this one, God has revealed his truth to me through writing. I would not have the inspiration to sit and write if it weren’t for you! I pray you will feel the warmth of His love today and every day!
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