Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Black Hole

For the past two months I have felt like the world was closing in around me. A thick cloud of despair has been hanging over my head. I want to cry all the time, and often burst into tears for no reason. My feelings of being trapped and stuck have nothing to do with my circumstances. Sure it's hard having five kids and attempting to take care of them all and educate them, as well. But I know the feeling of being overwhelmed with the number of tasks on my plate, and this is not that. I am overwhelmed by my emotions regardless of the things that I have to do, or don't have to do.

I have no desire to get out and be with people (and I'm a major extrovert), I don't even have any desire to get out of my chair. And the only reason I'm not still in bed is because these four children seem to think they ought to have breakfast. I let them run off afterwards to whatever play they have in mind, so I can sit and do nothing. And be overwhelmed in it. 

In late January, my friend Audra over at Rediscovering Domesticity passed along a blog award. She had received it from Beyond Postpartum. As I was clicking through some of the blogs, I saw myself in many of the posts about Postpartum Depression. I also realized that Roselyn was over a month old, and I should hvae been out of the "baby blues" stage. I found a quiz online (I can't find the link today) and discovered that my symptoms fell in the moderate to severe range of PPD. Now what?

I spoke with my husband. That was hard. He's not an emotional or sensitive kind of guy. That's not normally an issue in our relationship, because I'm not really an emotional or sensitive kind of gal. So this has hit us hard. I find it difficult to talk about my emotions under normal circumstances, but now they have overwhelmed me and I don't have any words to describe them, and I have no reason for why they are there. I've done some searching online, and as I read more and more of the symptoms, I became more and more convinced that PPD is what has been happening to me. While it was nice to have a name for it, to know that I'm not crazy, that others have gone through this and things turned out quite well, I was clueless in how to address the issue. I wanted to DO something. I wanted to find joy in life again. 

The Bible study I'm going through with the ladies of my church has a line that has really struck me at the beginning of all of this " should have joy, and comfort, and life through believing in Him..." I had none of those. I have a wonderful family, great friends, lots of support, but I had no joy, no comfort, no life. How could I get those? Through believing in Him? I believe in Christ! I want those! 

After breaking my silence and talking with my husband about all that I was feeling, I was able to open myself up to a few women in my life. Women who would support me in prayer, women who would encourage me, women who loved me. I'm not sure how much talking about it helped, but I know the prayer support has been huge. I still didn't know what to do, didn't know where to turn, didn't know how to handle these emotions that weren't based in any circumstances, but people were praying for me, and God has been moving in my life. 

This week my MOPS group had a speaker on the "Black Hole" of motherhood- postpartum depression. I was so looking forward to her talk and hopeful that she would share some useful tips for me. The day before the meeting, one of my kids got sick and vomited. Not sure if she would be better or who else would get it, I had to stay home and not infect all the other families. And of course, everyone was fine that morning. As I sat in my chair, yet again, I wondered what she was sharing, I wondered what could help me overcome the despondancy that has overtaken my soul. I wondered why God had kept me home during the one talk that I was sure could help me. (I'm still not sure, we'll see if He makes that clear someday.) This past week had been better, but I knew I wasn't out of it, yet. And I wasn't sure WHY it was better. 

My mentor called that afternoon. She shared some great points that the speaker made. I wasn't interested in the statistics that she shared, but the treatments- getting my normal life back. That's what matters to me. She shared three things that help (besides drugs)- group therapy/support system, sleep, and just doing it. Finally! I have some of the answers I have been looking for. All of those things have been in my life. I have shared with a few and have more support in the last couple of weeks. Roselyn has been sleeping longer and longer stretches at night- up to eight hours at a time! And with all these others, I have had to get up and do the normal things of daily life, even if it was just going through the motions. I wondered if it was too late, though, since this week has been so much better, had I already made it through to the other side?

Nope. After Bible study this morning, I came home and was overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness and despair. Everything was crumbling around me. And there certainly wasn't a reason for it after such an uplifting time with such wonderful women. Our study this past week has been on Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how she was able to submit to the Lord in all things. I don't understand what He is doing in me right now, why He is allowing my emotions to be so unstable, what good can come of this? But I can look to Mary's response when she was in a difficult situation- "I am Yours, do as You will." I can trust, that even if I can't see the other side, even if I don't know what good can come, that He has a plan. He is good, and holy, and I can place my trust in Him. He makes no mistakes and the way I handle my life, and the situations that arise can bring Him great glory. He is allowing this and using it in my life to make me more like Christ. 

So, I don't know why exactly I'm writing this for the whole world to read. Except that in the writing of it, I can clarify my thoughts at least a little and find some healing. Looking back on the past two months, I can see that things are getting better and that hope and joy are slowly returning to me. I know that I'm not alone. I know that this is common among women. And there is no shame in admitting that it has struck me, and I am down. And more women need to talk about this, to share their struggles, to share what gets them through, to be a light on the other side for someone in the midst of it. Because, honestly, I know dozens of moms, but could not think of more than one or two who have been in this place. And statistically speaking, more of the moms I know have been in this same sinkhole. 

Here I am, hanging it all out there in hopes that someone can offer a little encouragement that this isn't how I will feel forever. That I will someday again have control over my mental stability. And a truth to hold onto from 2 Corinthians 1:5- As I share in the sufferings of Christ, I will also share in the blessings of Christ. 


Audra said...

praying for you. The hardest thing for me was admitting to hubby that there was a problem - i told a friend whom i have never met face to face who lives in vancouver first. Only now, a year or so later, does hubby realize how sick I was.

First of all, have your thyroid checked. That's what the doc believes set me off. Secondly, the hardest but most important thing is to JUST DO IT. I had severe anxiety and could hardly leave my porch let alone take Buggy to well baby visits. It took a long time - at least 6 months to feel mostly normal again (without meds). I still catch myself falling into the wrong pattern of thinking, but now that I know the signs (boy is it SNEAKY!!!), I can work towards nipping it in the bud right away.

I'll be praying that you come out of this black hole. It is real. It is scary. Sometimes it needs medicine to help - if it is a hormonal imbalance or something. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your heart and struggles. I know a lot more specifically how to pray for you, now. I've been feeling some of these same ways a lot this fall and winter as I've grieved for my mom. God, the Holy Spirit, who is sealed inside us is our very real helper, comforter and friend. He WILL provide a way of escape from trouble and a way through this valley.

With love,

Diane said...

I have no words of wisdom, but just wanted to send you a hug. I hope things get better for you. Love Diane