I know God called me to write this blog, share my story, and keep it real.
But here is the problem… I have only had so many experiences and can only reach so many people with them. However, I am surrounded by moms/women that have such beautiful stories.
I want to use this space to bless more women with the bravely shared stories of others.
There is something so beautiful in knowing that you are not alone.
Today I am glad to share this space with a brave woman who is sharing a painful story. I have known her for most of my life… she is my cousin’s cousin… so basically, she is my cousin. This is her vulnerable story of anxiety and depression. I am grateful for her bravery in sharing such a taboo topic.
When Christen asked me to do a Momentous Monday piece I was honored and immediately started brainstorming fun ideas to talk about; but then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
God wanted me to use this platform to speak on something that I really don’t like to share. He called me to be vulnerable and put my quest to look “perfect” aside and talk about something that has a stigma…Anxiety and depression.
Most people view this issue as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness; and I want to share my story and show how neither assumption are true.
I often hear, “You don’t look like someone who has anxiety/depression.” Or, “ You are outgoing and so positive- there is no way you suffer from anxiety/depression.”
These statements puzzle me; I mean what does a person look like that has these struggles?
I will tell you, they are 1 in 4 people that you meet; they are mothers, fathers, teachers, grandparents, lawyers, doctors, pastors, young adults, black, white, asian…. anxiety and depression sufferers look like everyone, because it affects every one, in every age group, and in every race.
So with that out of the way, here’ s a shortened version of my personal story with anxiety/depression.
My first encounter with this issue began 9 years ago, at one of the highest points in my life- I just graduated college, traveled through Europe, got engaged to Nik (my husband now), and got offered a great job; yet I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. It began slowly with me just withdrawing from friends and then it seemed overnight I was crippled with fear.
I wasn’t eating, I couldn’t sleep, and my mind began to race nonstop. This cycle of craziness just propelled myself into a deeper hole of anxiety.
It was such a scary time in my life- I had never felt like this before and I had no reason to feel sad or anxious.
All of these great things were happening in my life yet I had no desire to be a participant in it.
I sought help immediately with a therapist and immersed myself in prayer, and within three weeks I was back to being myself. My family and I looked at it as a blip and it was probably a result of all the change in my life.
Problem is, this issue came back to visit me two more times; once after I got married and then three years after that. Both of these times lasted a few weeks, I would go back to some talk therapy and heavy praying and then I would get back to my life.
I was diagnosed with “transitional anxiety.” Which it other words meant I had a hard time with change. After my last episode in March 2011 I really thought I had figured out my struggle and that it wouldn’t plague me anymore.
Fast forward to July 2013. Nik and I had welcomed a beautiful baby boy in November 2012 and life was great. Then the worst episode of anxiety came upon me out of nowhere.
To say I was crippled with fear doesn’t do it justice.
I was a walking panic attack.
I couldn’t eat, sleep, function…I had to go stay at my mom’s because I could barely take care of myself let alone my 9-month baby.
My husband was at the time, working full time and getting his Masters degree and he was maxed out on vacation time. He would work in Orange County and then drive 80 miles one way to spend evenings and weekends with me.
It was such a brutal time in all of our lives. I was a shell of myself and I really didn’t think that I was ever going to get better. I was hopeless, helpless and felt very alone.
This episode wasn’t like the ones in the past…I couldn’t just have some talk therapy and prayer to get better.
The worst part of it, was this time I was a mother. I would look at my infant’s blue eyes studying me as I would break down in tears and lay on the couch trying to pray and wish this time in my life away.
I had horrible thoughts of how sad it was for him to have me as a mother because I was “broken.” This issue was much bigger than me.
After a month I was able to regain some normalcy and was able to go back to work…but the scar that episode left was massive. This time to “get better” I spent a lot of money and time on myself, and discovering the underlying factors of why anxiety and depression would keep returning to my life.
I found an amazing Christian therapist who also went through anxiety like me. Instead of spouting scripture at me and telling me to have a better foundation in Christ, (which people told me) she peeled away at the layers I had. I had built up 29 years of worries, fears, and irrational thinking that I hid behind my witty sense of humor, outgoing personality, and type A personality.
My therapist encouraged me to have a more open dialogue with God about my struggles instead of “just asking for healing.” After 5 months of working with her, I finally felt that I had faced my hidden issues that were causing anxiety. I had spent my entire life trying to be perfect…trying to be the best…and trying to control everything I could manage.
These never-ending pursuits created an anxiety that never went away.
However, here I am, almost two years and one more baby boy later and I am doing great. Last year I had a lot of change—so much change that I was concerned that I would have a “relapse” of my anxiety and depression. Within one month, I lost my grandma (who was my best friend), had a baby, moved to another county, and had some family health scares, yet my anxiety didn’t come back!
I stayed rooted firmly in my practice of relaxation and giving it to God. Sure, I still have my moments…but the key word is “moments” not days or weeks. I rely heavily on my personal relationship with Jesus to continually sustain me and keep me on the right track. Additionally, I started making sure to take care of myself.
This was the hardest part of my recovery. As a mother, I often put my time, sleep, exercise, friends and prayer life on hold. However, I realized in order for me to be the best mother and person I needed to take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
What I have discovered about anxiety and depression through my personal experience is how it is such an off-limits subject these days, and especially in some Christian circles (in my experience anyway).
We often look at people that struggle with this with sad eyes and chalk it up to a weak faith or not trusting God. However, when you are struggling with this debilitating and very lonely issue the only place you have to go to is God.
In fact I would say that my faith was the strongest it ever was during my times of trial.
I wish I didn’t have the struggle with anxiety and depression in the past; I wish it wasn’t part of my story; but it is. I strongly believe what the devil meant for bad, God is making for good.
I don’t really know what I am trying to convey through this piece, but I feel like it’s my duty to share what I have been through and to open the eyes of some and give hope to others. Like James 1: 2-5 says,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete. Not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
God got me through the trials of anxiety so now I am called to let others know they can get through it as well. Through every trial you gain wisdom.
Thanks for joining me for (MOM)entous Monday. If you have a story you would like to share… Contact me!
Let’s bless people with the story of our lives… it turns all that pain into purpose.
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