He turned my mourning into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows. I can’t stay silent; I must song for his joy has come.
It’s probably been 15 years since I last heard this song, but music has a way of flooding my spirit and speaking for me when I don’t always have the right words.
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.
I’m turning a page. I’m writing again. At least today I am. Baby steps. This is the next step to freedom for me. I’m not sure what this season brings, but I’m ready to write again. After over a year of unintentional hiatus, I invite you back to join me on this next journey.
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak.
Post-partum depression is real, and it is certainly different for everyone. It can feel like a overwhelming darkness, or a heaviness consuming your body, or an anxiety that makes everything seem absolutely unbearable.
There have been times that this depression and anxiety roller coaster leave me feeling all of those physical responses to my scattered mind countless times in a day.
The beginning was a fog. I went through the motions day-to-day with a disconnect between my brain, my heart, and my body. It was almost as if I was watching my life happen without getting to be part of it. I never wanted to hurt myself or anyone else; I just wanted to curl up underneath my down comforter, disappear for awhile, and actually believe the world could function for a few moments without my participation. There were stages of having no idea anything was wrong, to being drastically aware and dumping the hateful self-talk that just seemed to bury me deeper.
After having MyMunchkin I had similar feelings, but I managed to shift my thinking, smile, and change my paradigm without getting consumed. This time around its been quite different.
My story: LilyBelle
We welcomed our beautiful baby girl, three weeks early, in November 2014. Our precious little flower, Lily, the perfect addition to our now family-of-four. My Munchkin was so excited to be a brother. He went to all my appointments, listened to her heartbeat, saw her on the ultrasounds, and put up with my arranging and rearranging of their bedroom time and time again; he was ready.
When he came to meet her in the hospital he sat next to us in the hospital bed, just 23 months old, looked at me, looked at Lily, touched my belly, then reached out and gently placed his hand on Lily’s chest and said, “Heartbeat. Heartbeat, Baby Sister’s heartbeat! Not in Mommy’s tummy anymore.” We melted.
After an unexpected and very fast labor and delivery (bunny trail: the nurse actually told me not to push because the doctor wasn’t there yet, and then said it was more paperwork for her if she delivered my baby not him), and a whirlwind of beautiful moments with BabyGirl, I couldn’t sleep. I had my perfect little family and a surge of adrenaline; I was done being at the hospital. The whole experience was a neusence to the incredible miracle that this experience was created to be. I needed to be home!
Home. Visitors. House Guests. Helpers.
All there to greet and spoil Miss LilyBelle with all things girly, and help us with whatever we asked. From as far as Idaho and Colorado, and from The Central Valley to South OC we had visitors sacrificing their time to stay with us, shop for us, cook for us, and even do laundry (thank you Auntie Em!!) for us.
Nothing was enough. Why was all of their sacrifice never enough? It was never the right way or my way or what I needed. Not enough people in the house. Too many people in the house. Not the way I would cook. Stop asking me how to cook it! Just help with Daniel. No, I want time with MyMunchkin; hold the baby. I just need sleep! Stop asking me if I need a nap; don’t you know me well enough to know I can’t nap?! Of course I need a nap, but it’s never going to happen. Because if I go to sleep the rest of my world is going to fall apart.
This is illogical, irrational, unfair, unloving, selfish…not me, not my heart! Stop this thinking, Danielle!!
I would constantly beat myself up about it. My brain, my heart, my reasoning, and my faith all know this is not healthy thinking. They all know that beating myself up isn’t going to help.
Why do I feel so negative, worthless, unloved, unlovable, unworthy, and in a fog?
Wake up. Make breakfast. Frantically pack diaper bag for two. Rush Daniel through eating. If he wants to play before nap, we must leave…five minutes ago. Load kids in car. Run back inside and grab sunglasses that I left…where did I leave them? Don’t forget water. Jump in car. Did I lock the door? Run to check. Back in car. Kids ok? Ok. Snack for Daniel while we drive. Now….drive….sloooow. Pass…some…time. Why are there such bad drivers in LA? Arrive. Park. Ergo BabyGirl, throw on the backpack, get the toddler out without him smashing her head or kicking her. Success.
I had to be out of the house. I needed fresh air. I couldn’t face the mess at home or even the possibility of making one. I had to put a fake smile on my face to just get through the day. I needed that vague interaction with complete strangers; it gave me some sort of falsely-perceived validation for what they inferred to be successfully and happily getting myself, a toddler, and a newborn dressed, fed, and to the park in one piece… all on day 4.
Insanity. Why? What is the purpose behind this behavior? What am I trying to prove?
This was my dark reality for a long time. It took me four months to even realize this cycle that I was creating. Even after recognizing it, talking about it, trying to find solutions, I eventually just pushed it under the rug like survivors do and thought I was better. Not happy. Not enjoying life. But not depressed; therefore, I was fixed. Right?
I will make darkness light before them.
“Joseph…Joseph!!! Call 9-1-1!”
That’s about all I could get out. Shivering, hunched over in the fetal position, trying to hold myself up with my head against the bathroom wall, my tongue swelling, both hands clamped completely shut.
After all my vitals came back normal and my body started to relax again, the firefighters were really confused as to what happened and decided it was best to take me to ER for further evaluation and monitoring.
Basically, all this drama was my body’s response to stress. God had been trying to get my attention and was telling me to slow down for a long time. I didn’t listen. So He allowed my body to be completely immobilized. I had to stop; this insanity has to stop.
I’m sure you’ve heard Urban Dictionary’s definition of insanity:
Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result
Knowing all of that, it seems ridiculous to still get caught in this hamster wheel, but these next two definitions really hit home.
1. The state of being mentally ill.
2. Extreme foolishness or irrationality.
The night of the ER trip was actually the launching night of our church’s new small groups called Freeways. Unfortunately, I was too sick to go, but I see how God used those circumstances to stop me in my tracks and turn to Him.
You are my help and my deliverer.
The timing of Freeways was perfectly ochestrated by God. Freeways was all about discovering our freedom in Christ. It was a step by step journey, arm-in-arm with our small group, learning what is my true identity in Christ and what from my past is preventing me from walking in the freedom and purpose God has for me?
I have taken a lot of steps backwards during this process, and I’ve reverted back to survival mode on countless occasions, but what I am discovering is that it is not about “deciding I’m better”, “changing my paradigm”, or “smiling” to make everything good again. This journey is about recognizing that life is constantly changing. With change comes struggles and challenges. It is through these that God is stretching me and allowing me to grow and heal and be molded into exactly the woman He has created me, for the purpose for which He has designed me.
Why, even now almost 15 months later, I find myself going through the same motions is beyond me. I am pretty sure constant frustration, exhaustion, and yelling at MyMunchkin do not fit the category of successful parenting.
This is a process. I am learning to be present and enjoy the process, no matter how painful or emotional.
My life belongs to Jesus. He is the author and how dare I try to take the pen out of His hands and write my own story. I’ve tried that, and it left me stagnant and immobile.
I waited patiently for the Lord. He brought me up out of a horrible pit. He set my feet upon a rock. He has put a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God.
I’m ready to move again.
Life is too short to be tired, overwhelmed, and discouraged. I have a purpose and it’s time I get to it.
I am so excited to share what God is unraveling before me! I have felt so alone for a long time. I have believed the lies that no one really cares about me or what I’m going through. I have believed the lies that what I am going through is so much more important or more difficult than others. I have believed the lies that what I am going through is not a big deal at all. I have believed that I am not a good Mom. I have believed the lies that I have to earn people’s love and affection for me.
I am choosing to believe the Truth and not the lies. I will be back soon to walk with you through how I am overcoming these doubts and insecurities.
Until next time, I pray today you are encouraged. I pray that you realize you are not alone. I pray that you will see God right where you are. I pray you hear His gentle words whispering, “I love you my child, you are not alone. I will never leave you or forsake you.”
I pray that if you can relate to any of these feelings of isolation or depression, that you start to take baby steps to see the Light when you feel consumed by the darkness.
Would you like prayer for anything today?
Do you have any experiences that might help me or others along the way?
I would love to hear what God is teaching you on your journey!