2-24-17

Sometimes, life just seems unfair and I hate it. I hate that I even feel that way. I’m angry and I’m angry that I’m angry. I feel guilty about it. I should just be thankful. Take the hand I’ve been dealt and accept it and move on. Things could always be worse. And I know I am blessed. For as much suffering as we’ve been through, we have been given much. I’m not so blinded by anger and self pity that I don’t see how gracious God has been with us. It just really sucks to have to walk down THIS path of suffering. Parenting is hard. I both envy and hate the people that make it look easy. I see the “rose-colored” Instagram and Facebook posts. I realize people like to put their best foot forward, (I know I’m probably guilty too) but it’s just salt on the wound. I see people with more Children than me who somehow are able to pursue hobbies, run a business, beautify their homes and whatever else people are doing, and the feelings of inadequacy and honestly, jealousy are just crushing. I hate feeling that way. I hate wishing things were different. I hate when I see your Facebook posts about your conversations with your children because it hurts. I waited THREE YEARS, just to hear Norah call me mommy, how many more years before I can have a conversation with her? How long before I can ask, “Norah,how was school?” And not have her just repeat the question back to me because she does t know what I’m asking? How long before I say “I love you Norah” and she replies with “I love you mommy” instead of just repeating back to me “I love you Norah.” Everything is a fight. Every typical struggle magnified by the altered architecture of her brain. I’m exhausted. Special Pre-K program, therapies, diet modifications, vitamins and supplants, tests/lab work, and IEPs. I feel like I am constantly being thrust into the fire. I feel like I just can’t handle anymore and that makes me feel inadequate as a mother. I feel guilty because I am overwhelmed. I’m not good enough or strong enough or patient enough. I am just so burned out. People have asked me how I’m doing and in the split second it takes to respond with an I’m ok or I’m fine, I wonder, how am I suppose to even answer that? There is so much I could unload and do you really want to hear it all? I’m a mess, can’t you tell? My heart is a mess, bruised and broken and heavy. Some days are bettmer than others, but today is not one of those days. 
I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes-it also has gone from me. – Psalm 38:8-10

The end of 2016

I hoped and prayed that 2016 would be kinder and gentler than 2015, which ended with me feeling worn and like I needed to come up for air. Grady was the high point of 2015, my breathe of fresh air despite all the drama that was his birth and first few weeks of life. However, 2016 wasn’t any better. In fact, I think it has been more difficult. It’s been full of stress and anxiety. Norah’s autism diagnosis was in January. Hard to believe that it’s been a year since then. Probably because we’ve been up to our eyeballs in therapies prior to a diagnosis and now….my head hurts thinking about it. 2017 is certainly going to be just as busy if not more so. The wound still feels new though. Just when I feel like I’ve settled, the cycle of grief starts over. Maybe it’s during a particularly rough patch with Norah or despite all the gains Norah has had we see where she is still delayed. Maybe it’s seeing other parents with their typically developing children and how different Norah is that sends me over the edge again. I feel like I’m drowning. I have to keep reminding myself of the beautiful moments from this year otherwise I can’t function. I’m tired of being overwhelmed. I’m tired of being angry, because if I am totally honest, I am angry. Really angry. I am finally not in denial about it anymore. God has been gracious in casting light in that area and revealing it for what it is. I’m angry at life, at autism, at everything and everyone. Im angry at myself for being angry. I’m angry at God. I don’t want to be this way. It ruins everything. It keeps me from enjoying Norah and Grady. I’m constantly worried about Grady’s development. He seems typical now, but what if he regresses? If I let myself enjoy watching him grow, what happens if it goes away? If I hold back, maybe the pain and disappointment will be less if he does regress. I feel like I am in the lowest valley. 2016, there aren’t appropriate adjectives for you, but I am tenderly holding onto hope that 2017 will be better. I am letting go. Maybe 2017 won’t be easier, but I am praying that I might be changed. That my perspective and response would be dictated less by the gamut of my emotions and centered on God and his loving kindness. That God would take my anger away and heal my bruised and tender heart. “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal.” – Job 5:17-18

Lately

Sometimes I don’t know how to start these posts. I feel like lately, time just seems to pass by. We don’t really do much, but we’re busy, ALL THE TIME. Everyday life busy. Husband is super busy at work, works past six most nights. I’m busy at home. It’s always, and I mean always as in never ending mountains of laundry I can never seem to make go away, dirty dishes in the sink, meals to make, menus to plan, diapers to change, the list goes on. Plus, we are trying to figure out where to go next. When do we want anther baby? Should we stay in this house or try to find something a little bigger? Figuring out health insurance, and that’s a big one, because let’s face it, health care and insurance is a nightmare right now.

I should say, I am in no way trying to complain. I absolutely LOVE my life. I love that I get to stay home and raise Norah, I love my little family, I love that I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do, it’s hard work, but a lot of fun and so rewarding. 🙂

I think I just woke up in a funk this morning. The reality of how hard being a grown up and how challenging life is, is just really heavy this morning. Friday my mom called me to tell me that her blood work and tests came back positive and that she has breast cancer. I don’t think I’ve fully processed this yet. Shortly after she called Friday, I packed up Norah and I and headed over to my parents to spend the weekend with them. It was a good distraction. For all of us. It was as normal as it could be, but as the weekend came to a close, things seemed to pick up where they left off. Now, despite a cancer diagnosis, it seems that she has the best case scenario. The cancer was detected early, it’s slow growing and wasn’t found anywhere else. It’s just that, well, ‘cancer’ is a scary word. No matter how positive the predicted outcome is, no one wants to hear, “you have cancer.” So, I’m worried, of course. It’s also hard to see my mom go through this. She has seemed ok, but when I left to go home Sunday, I could tell she was afraid and trying to not get emotional. It’s hard knowing that in a couple of weeks, she’ll be leaving to go to a clinic out of state, where she’ll be for three weeks undergoing treatment. She’ll be out there by herself which makes it even more difficult. Dad will get to go out at some point but can’t stay the whole time due to work. I don’t like that she’ll be out there alone. I wish I could go. I wish that there was a clinic that was closer to home. The whole situation just stinks.

Today is rough. I’m a little more emotional and worried about my mom. I just want to go back to bed and not have to worry about anything. I don’t want to do today. I know, ultimately, everything will be ok, I’m just struggling, sorting through stuff and not trusting God enough with this. Hmm, that seems to be a recurrent theme lately.

2-16-14

These past 2 years have been hard. For the first time in a long time, I feel as though I have given up and really felt myself sink into a more selfish form of suffering, if there is such a thing, and just sat in my anger and resentment. I felt justified in my bitterness and self pity. Don’t get me wrong, my journey the past two years trough pregnancy and becoming a mother have been filled with amazement and joy, but my bitterness is always nipping at my heels.

Lately, the weight of this has become so unbearable, I feel as though I might finally sink beneath the surface. In all this, despite knowing it to be untrue, this has given me a sense of control. Control over situations, my relationships with others and how I want them to see me and ultimately, how much of God I am willing to let in. That last one. That’s the biggest lie of all; that I could actually control how much of God I get when he’s ALWAYS there and threatening to blow this wide open. He’s there, hand outstretched and all I have ever needed to do was just reach out and hold on, but every time I’ve heard him call my name, I sink beneath the surface, feeling safer and less exposed in my own darkness.  The lover of my soul is persistent. He who values me more than I could possibly imagine, who calls me beloved despite everything, has been patiently and did I mention PERSISTENTLY, pursuing and drawing near TO ME.

 I finally surface for air, reach out, my fingers just brushing His.

There’s still pain and fear. There’s a part of me that’s trying to hold on to every negative thought and feeling, as if it gives me the upper hand in this. It’s been wearing me thinner and thinner, still eating at me. Through all of this, things have been coming up, things about myself that I had so long suppressed, that I had forgotten them. Things from my past that I have not ever dealt with, things that have affected my reactions and behaviors to things in the present. These walls that I had built around myself are crumbling, letting in light and showing me just how broken and devastated I am.

There is a quote by C. S. Lewis that reads as follows:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Two and half years ago, I did think that I was just a work in progress. A ‘decent little cottage’ with ‘repairs’ (or, rather, refining points) here and there. But God wants something better. What I want is not good enough. What God wants is something magnificent and I just need to trust that He’s got it right and this is best. I want to.

I don’t think that I have ever felt so timid in my faith as I do now. So uncertain.

The more God has pressed into me, the more I find myself giving in to Him. Every time I have pushed, He’s pushed back, relentless. The more worn down I become, the more I feel myself being won over to Him. To be honest, I have started to feel peace in this. Finally.

This morning in worship, I very much felt a physical lightness. This weight that I have been carrying is lifting. I felt genuine joy this morning, for the first time in a while, I have found comfort in God.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger

Moving Forward

In my last post, I was approaching the one week mark since getting help for my depression. Last Thursday, I had a follow up appointment with my midwife to go over the results from my blood work and to talk about how I was doing on my antidepressant. We started off by updating her about how the past week had been. Everything was positive. I explained to her that I felt different after the first dose and how I had not expected to feel anything that soon. She seemed surprised too as it normally takes a few weeks to get any results, but that my brain must have really been needing the dopamine. I was happier, and so much slower to anger. I felt more cheerful and not quite so blah. In all actuality, I was beginning to feel like a different person, or rather, more like my old self. I was starting to feel human again.

My blood work all came back normal as can be, which is both disappointing and a relief. Disappointing, because I was hoping to have some more answers into why I had felt the way that I had for so long, but I was relieved that there was  nothing else wrong. My thyroid, cortisol, everything was as normal as can be. The only thing that was ‘off’ was that I had a vitamin D deficiency, but that’s as exciting as it got. So, while I may not have gotten the ‘answers’ that I hoped for, all in all, the appointment was positive. She did say that my vitamin D deficiency could be contributing to some of my symptoms, like my fatigue, sleeplessness, poor concentration, and even my depression itself. Since I had an improvement in some areas and not others, she decided to increase my dose of the Wellbutrin (antidepressant). She also prescribed Vitamin D2, 50,000 units per week! On top of that, I am taking 1000-2000 mg of DHA/EPA and Omega 3’s. So LOTS of vitamin D. The point of this was to get my vitamin D levels up where they needed to be, but to also help my body start producing more on its own as well.

My midwife also encouraged me to see our homeopathic doctor as well and even start seeing my chiropractor. She said that even though all of my blood work came back normal and I don’t officially have a diagnosis, based on Western Medicine, all of my symptoms are congruent with Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, and would most likely benefit treating those with alternative medicine. I haven’t done this yet, but I intend to. She also didn’t want to get hung up on being depressed, so she didn’t even give me a diagnosis of ‘depression’. I am appreciative of that, although, if that is what this is, than so be it. I am not defined by it.

So today marks two weeks. Two whole weeks of feeling human again, two weeks of a happier me, and two weeks of me actually giving a darn! The first couple of days were rough, with the new dosage; I felt pretty crummy with headaches and nausea, but I am so grateful that I am feeling more and more like me every day! I am looking forward to more good days!

Update

So tomorrow will mark one week since I got medical help fory depression. Tomorrow I go in again and will get the results from my blood work. I’m not anxious but I am. Well, maybe anxious isn’t the right word, but I am nervous.  Normally when you get blood work back you are hoping for everything to be normal and that everything checks out. I on the other hand, am hoping that they find something that will give us some insight in to my depression. I think I would be discouraged if everything came back normal and I was just ‘depressed’ with no real answers. 
 
I will also discuss my medication with my midwife. Tomorrow also marks a week that I have been on antidepressants. So far I have had a positive experience. I am definitely feeling better. My stress is going down, I am slower to anger, I am feeling happier and starting to enjoy things again. I am still struggling with sleep. I can lay in bed for hours before falling asleep and with a baby that still wakes frequently in the night, this is very hard. I also still have a really hard time focusing. I seem to have moments that ‘disappear’. For example, I can be having a conversation with someone and at some point in that conversation, I completely zone out to the point that I have no recollection of what was said. I see the person talking, their lips moving, but I hear nothing and don’t remember what was said, if that makes sense. Maybe that has nothing to do with depression itself, it could be that it’s just a coping mechanism I have developed over time to manage stress and anxiety, but again, I don’t know. And while I am am slower to anger, when I finally do hit that breaking point, there’s not a lot of variation in the emotion, it’s still pretty intense. All things that I will bring up tomorrow. 
 
I have been sharing my experience and struggle with depression this past week and I think there’s a lot of ‘baggage’ that comes with depression. People don’t really talk about depression, or at least very few do. People seem much more willing to talk about cancer or some other sickness than discuss ‘mental illness’. Maybe I just haven’t known enough people who have had depression, but I am finding it encouraging to share my struggle with it. First off, it’s sort of therapeutic. But it also lets people know how they can pray for me, they can ask me how I’m doing, but be specific so that I am actually forced to give a real answer instead of “I’m fine.” I think being open to sharing helps others too. If my being brave and saying, “I’m depressed” gives someone else the courage to seek help, then that’s a great thing! Being depressed sucks, being depressed and alone really sucks. I was alone in my struggle for a long time, it wasn’t good and I certainly didn’t benefit from it. 
 
Tonight I shared with my City Group. It wasn’t hard to share content wise, oh but how I hate being the center of attention! I’m proud of myself though. I told everyone there and got through it with out crying too much. And I was able to explain it and make sense! Normally I get so nervous I think I end up babbling. I am so grateful for the people that God has placed in my life. I have some amazing friends. It was encouraging to be able to share and then be prayed for and know that these people love and support me. I’m so very grateful. 
 
Anyways, this was supposed to just be a quick update and it’s become a lot longer than I planned. Tomorrow I will know more and then I can give a more detailed update. Until then, thank you to everyone who has reached out. It has meant a lot to have your support and encouragement. 

Depression

How does one even begin a post like this? Is there really a way to gently ease into the subject or some joke or metaphor to make it less heavy? Probably not.

On July 27, (I know, specific right?) I was in Houston visiting with a friend before heading off to a beach vacation with family, when I had finally got enough courage to tell her that I had been “feeling” off. I say “feeling” because I really wasn’t feeling much of anything these days, except for maybe, guilt, apathy, anger and an extremely overwhelming emptiness. After a long conversation and contemplating what could possibly be wrong, I ventured down the road of depression.

Truth be told, this wasn’t something that had recently developed. I had been feeling this way, with gradual intensity, for the last 10-12 years. I had always wondered if I was suffering from depression, but would quickly banish those thoughts from my brain as I did not want to have the label “depressed” attached to me. I had only negative associations with the word and thought that surely I would be judged if I had spoken up. So, I brushed it off as just needing to try harder and make my own happiness. Naturally, I tend to lean more towards being an introvert, so I used that as my scapegoat with excuses like, “I’m just not good at being social”, “I am not good at small talk”, to even exaggerating on the good qualities that I already possessed, like being a good listener.

Of course, in the beginning, I didn’t always feel depressed. I would have days, maybe weeks, where I felt happy, creative and energized. The more time that went by, the fewer good days there were. I started to lose interest in the things that I loved and was so passionate about.

Fast forward a few years. In 2009 I got married. This was an exciting and VERY much anticipated event for me. I had been dating my husband for six years before he proposed, so I was ready. The morning of my big day that I had been waiting for so long for, was here! I remember sitting down to breakfast with my parents and them asking if I was nervous or excited. I was excited, I had wanted this day more than anything, but it wasn’t the exhilarating excitement I was expecting. I have a lot of moments like this. They have increased in length over time.

Eventually, it got to the point to where I needed to force, and over compensate for my lack of happiness or excitement. I didn’t want people to think that I didn’t care or that I was not happy for them. I was…….but, I wasn’t. Depression is a strange thing. Depression doesn’t always mean that you feel sad, but empty. I certainly felt this. Sometimes, I think that I mistook my lack of sympathy and emotion for an “I don’t give a crap” attitude. I thought that I was “tough” or “thick skinned”. Truth was, I was neither one of those. I was so weak. I constantly felt scrutinized and judged. I was racked with guilt and self loathing and eventually saw myself unworthy of happiness. I started to have paranoia, I feared that my husband, then boyfriend, was cheating and that at any moment he would break up with me. I began to read in between the lines of conversations I had with people, assuming that they meant something other than what they said, and felt like I deserved their scrutiny and judgement. Depression can really distort your perspective and cloud your judgement.

So, now I have been married for four years, and we recently welcomed a daughter. Another excuse that I told myself was that maybe I am just a super mellow person, and I just don’t excite easily, but surely a life changing event like finding out your pregnant would cause some over the top excitement. Nope. I WAS happy. I couldn’t believe it, but I was happy that I was expecting. Again, the excitement that I had hoped to feel, just wasn’t there. I was disappointed, sad that I couldn’t feel the joy that I was sure everyone felt. Now, I didn’t have the easiest pregnancy. I was sick for almost all of it. It was either morning sickness, the stomach bug or a staph infection. I felt like crap the whole time, and then had several stressful incidents throughout the pregnancy concerning her development and testing for chromosomal abnormalities to finding out that she was breech a week and a half from my due date and scheduling a cesarean days later. It was devastating. Everything that I had been planning for, hoping for some fluctuation in emotion and a sense of empowerment had been stripped away.

So, now, I have my beautiful baby at home and we are adjusting to a life as a family of three. I am not only learning the ropes of caring for a newborn, but am recovering from surgery, which was not easy. I got an infection due to an allergic reaction that I had to my sutures and was in pain for a couple months. Having a new baby is hard. Having a new baby and having the baby blues is really hard. During my pregnancy, I wondered if I would have the baby blues or postpartum depression. I wondered deep down if I was depressed, and felt like I might be predisposed to them. While I was convinced that I was suffering PPD, for reasons I had never told anyone, people assured me that it was just the baby blues and that it was normal and a common thing. I left it at that.

My daughter is now six months old, and the “blues” have not gone away. In fact they are worse than they have ever been. I had no joy, no happiness. I was angry and impatient all the time. My bad days were terrible and my “good days” were just less so. I had bad days and blah days.

Three weeks ago I decided that I had to say something. I had been having an exceptionally hard time. I was not necessarily suicidal, but was having thoughts of my own death. Since I obviously couldn’t feel happy, I thought that maybe I didn’t deserve to feel happy. Maybe everything and everyone would be better off if I was just not here. I was angry all the time. I was always in a bad mood and short with my husband. I was impatient with my child, and my anxiety was at an all time high. I didn’t want to be around people. I just wanted to be alone. But I didn’t. I was broken over the fact that I just didn’t have joy in anything. I didn’t even enjoy my child! This broke my heart, but I just couldn’t get out from under the dark cloud that has followed me for so long. So I spoke to a friend, I spoke to my husband and I spoke to my mom. I think that I am depressed. I have no idea who I am anymore, the person that I was has seemed to disappear. I don’t like myself and I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Something is wrong with me. I shouldn’t feel this empty.

So, here I am. I spoke to my midwife on August 8. Explained to her everything, relived moments over the past 10-12 years that made me pause and wonder about depression. I am depressed. I have realized that this is not something that I should be ashamed of. While depression by no means, defines me, it is a part of me. Treatment, generally, is medication, but does not have to be forever, which is positive. I had some bloodwork done and I am currently waiting for results. My midwife thinks that possibly, I may have a dopamine deficiency which would explain my lows and mediums but not “highs” or enjoyment. She is checking for other things as well, like my thyroid and cortisol levels. I also only have one kidney and one adrenal gland which could be problematic as well. The one adrenal gland that I have could be over compensating creating an imbalance. Thursday I find out the results and hopefully will have a bit more insight into my depression. Thursday will also be a week that I have been on medication to hopefully help my brain keep what dopamine I do have, circulating long enough to use it. Instantly, I seemed to feel better. I was lighter. I was not as impatient and angry. The more days that I am on it, the better I feel. By no means am I rainbows and sunshine, but I am seeing more and more of my old self each day.

I know that this is a terribly long post, and if you have made it all the way through, then thank you. I do not seek pity or special treatment, I am not ill. I have held all of this in for so long, that a post like this was a long time coming. I was not prescribed therapy, but in a sense, sharing is therapy. Depression is not a skeleton in the closet, you don’t have to hide it or be ashamed of it. I should have brought this up a long time ago though. If by chance, there is anyone who reads this, and suspects that maybe, the person you are now is not who you REALLY are, and there is a chance you are depressed, there is no shame in seeking help. It is OK to not be OK, but you don’t have to let it be your identity.