If you’ve missed any part of this series, click on any post directly below.
Part Two-My Storms in a nutshell
Part Four-More Depression
Part Five-Even More Depression
Part Six-Guest Post, Dan Blanchard
Part Seven-The Last Depression Post
Part Eight-Death of a Child
Part Nine-Death of a Child
Part Ten-Guest Post, Holly Good
Part Eleven-Death of a Child
Part Twelve-Death of a Child
Part Thirteen, Death of a Child
Part Fourteen, Death of a Child
Part Fifteen, Death of a Child
Part Sixteen, Conclusion
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 thought I was just crabby. Very, very crabby. With a terrible case of PMS (my apologies to my male readers…but that’s seriously what I thought.) PMS that was lasting longer than it should. Like months.
Maybe it was that we had just adopted a new toddler. Talk about adjustment! Laundry suddenly multiplied exponentially, toys and crushed Cheerios littered my floors, schedules of five people perpetually clashed. And it was up to me to single-handedly balance all those plates in the air.
It always takes me a while to get into a new groove. I’ll be fine, once I have time to adjust.Or perhaps it was the lack of sleep. Elliana was 13-months-old when we adopted her. Her precious foster mother informed us that not only did Elliana and Foster Mom sleep together in the same bed every day of her life, but Elliana took only one morning nap—for a whopping 20 minutes. Which happened to be in Foster Mom’s arms.
No, no, no. This just won’t do in the United States. Not in a home where there are two other children. I need her to take—uh, I mean SHE needs to take—a longer nap than that. And while the thought of sleeping next to my beautiful new baby every day for a few hours sounds luxurious, it doesn’t work in a household with three little kids, exponentially multiplying laundry, and a husband who works 60+ hours a week.
So, let’s just say the transition from uno 20-minute morning nap to uno 3-hour afternoon nap had both of us tired and in tears for weeks on end.
Once Elliana starts sleeping on a regular schedule, all will be well and I’ll be my old self again.
I was trying like crazy to keep it all together. To maintain a heart of thankfulness. To spend time every day in the presence of the Lord and in His word. Yet, little by little, day by day, I felt joy slipping from my grasp. And in its place came irritability. And anger, defeat, exhaustion, guilt, and negativity.
And the tears. Lots and lots of tears.
I like to fix things. Make them run better and more efficiently. So when I felt “broken” I started on my quest to “fix” me.
First the Bible study on Contentment. After all, if I were content with my life, I wouldn’t be so crabby all the time, right? I must be discontent.
Then two extended fasts. One for spiritual cleansing—because, clearly, I am completely self-absorbed and need to focus on God and not myself. And one for physical cleansing—maybe I have an overgrowth of some toxin in my system that’s throwing everything out of whack. You never know. I’ve heard yeast overgrowth can do this sort of thing.
Oh, and I better kick up those work-outs a notch, too, while I’m at it. Another 30 minutes on the elliptical every day ought to do it.
Next, I sought for creative outlets. I reasoned that my boredom and disinterest with life was simply an indication that I needed to try something new. Thus, my blog was born.
Once I start writing every day, I’ll feel more fulfilled and, thus, happier.
Then I started consuming and memorizing entire chapters of scripture. Clearly, something was wrong with my thinking and I needed to flood my brain with the word of God.
If I could just get my thoughts to align to God’s word, I would find joy. That’s the key. Scripture memorization.
I can fix this. I refuse to let this crabbiness—or whatever it is—over take me.
I tried and I tried and I tried everything I could think of. I felt like the Little Engine that Could. Only crabbier. I tried big things and I tried little things. Like new scented candles. Long baths. Time away from the kids. Book after book after book.
Yet at the end of each day, (and the beginning and middle of each day), I was still crabby. Though, now, it was far worse than crabby. It was scary. Because as the weeks and months went on, I was forgetting things. Really important things, like paying the bills, or helping a child with a major school project, or my volunteer appointments…or words.
I was forgetting words, midsentence.
So, in true, Sandy-fashion, between the tears and guilt, I would make a joke of myself. “Oh, kids, have you seen Mommy’s brain? I can’t find it anywhere! Maybe I left it in Guatemala. We should call the hotel and see if they found it.”
The kids thought it was a great game…looking in the cabinets and under the bed for Mommy’s brain. But inside I was frightened to death. What in the world was happening to me? Why couldn’t I shake this thing?
And the exhaustion. I was so tired all the time. All I wanted to do was sleep. Every phone call and personal contact with another human being stripped me of energy. After my out-of-town family came to visit, I didn’t get off the couch for three days. One day, I actually laid down to take a nap between my shower and blow drying my hair. I couldn’t handle doing them back to back.
And because of the exhaustion, the exponentially multiplying laundry, late bills and crushed Cheerios took on a life of their own. My house had never been so out of control. Ever. (And that’s sayin’ something, because I’ve posted pictures of my out of control house when I’m feeling great!)
Socializing became more of a chore than a joy. For one, it wiped me out physically. But it also provided opportunity for me to make a fool of myself when I busted into tears for no apparent reason. Therefore, little by little, I withdrew from the amazing, funny and caring friends God had placed in my life.
And when they asked me why I had missed this function or that function, it just perpetuated the guilt further.
I cried out to God every day, begging Him to deliver me from whatever this thing was. I rebuked it. I crucified it. I starved it. Yet this ugly thing continued to thrive. I had actually forgotten what it felt like to be full of joy. I started to wonder if I ever really did feel joy to begin with. Maybe I had always been this way. I started to resolve myself to the fact that I was just an irritable, negative person. As much as I hated that about myself, this is what I was—or had become.
And I was never going to change. I was hopeless.
It finally, came to a head one morning while I was driving my children to school. Sweet Rebekah asked if she could play at a friend’s house that weekend. A completely reasonable and normal request, I might add. However, I was so emotionally distorted by this time, that I blew it totally out of proportion. I don’t even remember what I said. I just know I screamed and yelled irrationally for a very long time.
And my poor kids sat petrified in the back seat with tears streaming down their faces.
When we got to school I pulled off into the parking lot and snatched my frightened children into my arms, squeezed them tightly…and wept. I didn’t even know what just happened, but I knew I had to fix it—fix me. I said, “I’m sorry” over, and over, and over. I kissed their little faces and prayed for God to fill their hearts with peace and joy in school,
and to miraculously wipe from their memories the Psycho-Mom Tirade that just took place.
And as I drove off, the sound of the rain now pelting on my windshield magnified, and I felt as if I was going to have a complete break- down. I always wondered what a “nervous breakdown” was. Now I was pretty sure I was having one.
When I got home that day, I called my Christian friend, who is also a maternal fetal specialist (high risk OBGYN). Still convinced that I was dealing with whacked out hormones, I hoped she would just put me on something to stabilize my PMS. Instead, she told me I had all the symptoms of Major Depression.
Depression. Really? Wow. Nah…Really?
I swear, I am so clueless sometimes. Still at this point of the game, I questioned her.
See, it wasn’t the first time I heard this from a doctor. The first time was seven years prior, after we adopted our son Elijah. I went to the doctor to see if he could switch my birth control pill because the one I was on was making me irritable. (Do you see a pattern here, people?) He said it wasn’t the pill, but probably depression.
Me? Depressed? No way, Jose! Depressed people lay on the couch all day eating Doritos watching reality TV. They don’t exercise or eat right or spend time in God’s word. Because if they did, they wouldn’t be depressed. Right?
I totally dismissed his ridiculous diagnosis and went on with my life. Soon the irritability resolved itself, and life continued on.
See? I told you. No depression.
Then it came again a year or so later, stayed a little longer, and went away. And then it came again, and stayed even longer, and went away.
But this time…this time, it came and had taken up permanent residence in me. I was falling deeper and deeper into a pit. A terrible, dark pit.
At that moment , sobbing on the phone with my wise Godly doctor friend, I heard God say to me,
“Listen, Sandy. Listen to what she is saying. Lay down your pride and do what she says.”
Finally, after months of my begging Him to restore my joy, I heard Him speak to me about my condition. Immediately, I felt the peace of God flood my heart, as I humbled myself and admitted I was dealing with something bigger than myself. God was releasing me from the responsibility to fix it. He was stepping in and leading me on the path to restoration.
I knew then and there I needed to obey God. If I ever wanted God to restore my joy, I needed to listen to Him speak through my friend, and allow Him to lead me into His healing—His way. I didn’t even know what that meant, but I didn’t care. I was willing to do whatever I needed to do to get better.
I immediately sensed a freedom I had not felt in months. Not because the depression was gone, but because I knew for the first time in months, I was going to be OK.
For the continuation of this story, and how God led me out of the pit, come back on Wednesday. (I originally thought I’d only post about this on Mondays, but at this rate, I’ll be posting for months. So I think I’ll hit it on a Wednesday when I can.)
And if you missed Parts One or Two of “God Speaks Through the Storm”, click on the picture in the sidebar and it will take you directly to all the posts in this series.