Today has been cloudy, cool and rainy. It is obvious that Spring time is on its way. My soon-to-be brother-in-law sent me this amazing photo the other day and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since.
I had asked him to send me some pictures of the mountains (they are lucky enough to live in them) because I wanted some photos for my blog. He sent me several, but this one, I cannot stop looking at.
I have been a “Christian” all my life. I grew up going to church, to youth group and all of the camps. I went on a missions trip to Honduras when I was 18. I came from a great home with wonderful parents and an amazing sister. God was always welcome and talked about in our house. We were far from a perfect family and we had our fair share of struggles, but I have no doubt it was our faith in God that literally held our family together.
When I moved out on my own I would say I was somewhat typical in the fact that I felt I was an adult, I knew everything, I was ready to take on the world and I didn’t need any help. I occasionally attended church, I prayed when I needed to and I slipped further and further from my beliefs. I would never say that I stopped believing in God because I didn’t. I always knew he was there I just would allow myself to ignore him.
Skip ahead about 7 years. I had not attended church on a regular basis for years at this point. I liked margaritas and beer a lot! Not together though…bad idea! I found myself drinking several nights a week. My husband would tell me “you have had enough” and of course I would inform him “I am not even feeling it yet”. I didn’t think anything of it. I was in my twenties and liked to drink…So? I was missing something and drinking seemed to, at least for a time, fill the void that I felt. I was beginning to become a little concerned myself that maybe I was starting to become a bit to accustom and that maybe it was about time to stop. I was worried though because I didn’t know if I could.
Well, God had an answer for that one! About 2 months later in May of 2010 we found out we were pregnant with our first son!!! I was SOO excited! We had been trying for over a year (part of what lead to my feeling a void). Obviously this was going to solve the problem because cold turkey there would be no more alcohol, coffee or soda. I had this little miracle growing inside of me and he was all that mattered. I didn’t have any temptations or desires because he was my priority!
In January 2011, My oldest boy was born. This day was far from what I had expected. I was happy, but the overwhelming feeling of love and joy…somehow I wasn’t feeling it. It is hard to explain how I felt, but anxious, that would be a pretty good word. My husband was at a school during my pregnancy and was thankfully able to be present at the birth. He had to leave though and return to the school hours after. I was very blessed because I had my mom, dad and sister along with my in-laws to help me. I remember being afraid of his cord that was still attached, I was afraid of his circumcision, I was worried about a lot! The day we were leaving to come home and huge snow storm was coming. This same weather front that was bringing us the storm, it also threatened my husband’s ability to return home the day we planned.
Needless to say, this caused more anxiety. We came home and got settled. My little guys was perfect. He ate like a champ and slept like a champ. I would sleep in his room because I was so concerned something would happen to him. I remember getting up regularly to make sure he was still breathing. I also wanted to make sure his diaper was changed consistently because I did not want him to get a diaper rash. When he was awake he was almost always in my arms. When he took his naps, I wanted him near me.
I had this overwhelming fear. This concern for not only now, but even years down the road. I worried about him being healthy, I worried about him going to the right school, I worried about future potential bullies or other kiddos making fun of him. I remember talking to my dad about all of my concerns and him replying “honey, you will worry the rest of your life because he’s your child, but you have to try to focus on today”. “Trying to focus on the future will be overwhelming.”
Well, I wasn’t able to heed his advice because the worry only got greater. My husband came home as planned and so I hoped this would help ease some of my concern. He was even lucky enough to have almost a month home with us before returning to work. It was wonderful, a perfect scenario…so why was I still a mess!!! I remember waking up the first day he returned to work. My little guy was about 5 weeks old now. I was almost sick with fear! I literally was terrified that something would happen to me or I would die and no one else would be around to help my baby. I was TERRIFIED! As silly as it sounds, It was all to real and something I could not talk myself out of. I remember there was a jolly rancher and I opened it to eat it, then I spit it out because I was worried I would choke. I was cleaning with vinegar water and I all the sudden I went into a panic attack because I was worried it would somehow be bad for him. It was BAD!
I started running, a lot, literally. I dropped a good 40lbs. and was smaller than I had ever been. Running though was the only way I could have a few moments of a bit of calm. I prayed and prayed!
I went in for my 6 week check up and I didn’t mention anything to my Doctor because I didn’t want to take medications. If I took medication I would have to stop nursing and that would not be best for my baby! I looked at it as a failure, I knew nursing was the best for him and I didn’t want to cheat him. This went on for nearly 9 months. There were times I had to call my mom and have her come over simply because I needed someone else around. It was indescribably awful! One day it hit rock bottom and those thoughts started to come into my mind. The thoughts of “do you really think you are a good enough mom for this little guy?” “Come on, look at you, you are a nervous wreck?” I had fallen in to what I now call anxiety induced depression. I was so low and I felt there was NO way out. My regular Doctor at the time suggested I see a psychiatrist. That to me though was not the answer, I didn’t want someone to tell me I was crazy and then dish out a ton of meds. I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to feel like a mom and love my baby the way I wanted so badly to!! I began to hate myself because I couldn’t fix this and I felt I was a horrible mother because of it!
Finally, one day when we were in the play room…those crazy thoughts started popping back in my head. “Don’t you think your son would be better off without you?” At this moment I literally fell on my knees in prayer. I was crying and begging God to fix this! I could not handle it anymore. It was a 24/7 non stop constant hell…torture going on in my mind. I honestly felt every heart beat, every breath I took and was in constant fear it was my last. Panic attacks were happening multiple times a day.
I called my sister in a panic. She made me call my husband and he luckily was able to come home. My doctor had given me Xanax, but I had refused to take it because it meant that I would not be able to nurse anymore. I also had the belief, I was a Christian, God could fix it. Well…God was there…Boy was he there. All of this time, I was trying so hard to convince myself he would fix it…but I was interfering with his fix for it. I finally gave in and took the meds. I didn’t like them though because it felt like I became numb. Don’t get me wrong, compared to the panic attacks, numb was good. Still though, I didn’t feel like I could connect with my son.
I finally reached out to my OB and she instantly said, my dear you are suffering from postpartum depression. She informed me I was NOT crazy and that this was somewhat common! Omigosh, to hear those words! Amazing! At the same time I felt stupid. All this time I had been fighting this demon and it wasn’t me at all.
My doctor worked with me and things got SO much better. I remember my son at 10 months old, I was holding him and rocking with him. I FELT IT! It makes me cry just typing this because it was an overwhelming feeling! I LOVED HIM and I FELT IT SO STRONG!!! I am his mother and I FINALLY felt like his mother! It was amazing!
I know to some it sounds crazy, but if you ever experience the evil beast of anxiety and depression it is awful! It is an evil that takes over you and makes you not even know yourself anymore. Please if you or someone you know is having any of these struggles. Know they are not alone, it is not them, they are totally normal and sane! There is help out there and the answer is out there.
In all of this, I now realize that God literally had to bring me to total despair. I had made him take me to the darkest point in my life in order to get my attention. Yes, I am stubborn to a fault sometimes.
This picture reminds me of all of this because after God flooded the world and he allowed Noah to exit the ark; he promised he would never do this again and the rainbow was the sign. It also represents to me Gods constant presence and his awesome power! His grace that he so willingly gives to us. You see the mountains? They have taken a beating from mother nature at times, but they are still solid and strong no matter what life has thrown at them. Then you see the sail boats. Each of these sail boats have kids, with some form of disability, learning how to sail them. This makes the picture perfect! To me it says even though at times we are weak, God will make us strong. No matter what life hands us, we can handle it because God is bigger than any problem we could have! Most importantly, we are all imperfect and will never attain even close to perfection. By Jesus blood, that was shed on the cross, we are made perfect in the eyes of God.