Somewhere in between the water glasses and the side salad comes the lie. I am not just fine. Far from it, in fact.
Without my trusty concealer stick and the constant flow of coffee, you would see how tired I really am.
Without my Instagram account showing my smiling face, you would see how frustrated I am.
Without the filter in my brain, I would be blowing up my Twitter feed with ranting and raving.
And, if I'm being really honest, if you were to peek in my kitchen window at certain times in the day when I think nobody is watching....you would see how angry I am and how burned out I have become.
But let's back up.
Years ago, before my first son was born, I was being treated for depression. I had crazy mood swings, thoughts of harming myself and an inability to regulate my emotions. The happy pills helped so much and then when I got preggers, I stopped taking them because I didn’t want them going into my baby’s body. Sure, I was made aware that there were options that were safe for pregnancy, but I didn’t want to risk it. (Have I mentioned that I'm a control freak who likes to pretend she knows better than the experts? Just checking.)
Fast forward a few years and now I have three children and I have gone un-medicated for nearly six years. I figured that meant I had “cured” myself, right? Strike up the band and line up the celebratory parade because I beat my depression all on my own! Go me!!!
Yeah, not so much. This is so me, you guys. No matter what the situation, I seem to think that I can solve it all on my own and with my own strength. I convince myself that if I just work harder, try harder, pray harder, I can beat it. You'd think I would have learned by now.
Something has been wrong with me for several months now and something has been REALLY wrong with me for the last couple weeks. While Evan was gone in China, I missed him for sure, but I also really had little desire to really talk to him. Add in the fact that while he was going about his life on the other side of the planet, someone blew up the Boston marathon, there was a gun scare near my kid’s school and then Isaiah was almost hit by a car and it became like the Perfect Storm to send my anxiety spiraling off to Crazytown.
My inability to handle my anxiety increased my anxiety. And then my increased anxiety led me to burst into tears in the middle of Target because I couldn’t find a new travel coffee mug that would fit in the cupholder of my minivan. And without my coffee mug, I couldn’t bring my coffee with me to preschool drop-off and without the coffee I ended up yelling and because I ended up yelling, I felt guilt and (you guessed it) MORE ANXIETY. I flipped out and screamed over Micah needing a Kleenex. When the kids were home with a babysitter and she didn't answer the house phone when Evan called several times, I assumed it was because there had been carbon monoxide poisoning and they were all dead.
No joke. That was the first thought in my head.
It’s exhausting. Evan kept asking me what was wrong and I insisted it was nothing, that I was just fine thank you very much!
And thanks to this post that hit my Bloglovin’ at the exact perfect time, I can finally identify that my problem is not that I am too weak to get a handle on my crazy, but that my depression has merely been dormant and is now manifesting itself in a different way. I read about Beth's depression returning in a way she didn't recognize and it was like I was reading my own story. I read it over and over, tears welling in my eyes as I realized what was really happening.
Unlike many years ago when it was the depression symptoms that led me to seek help, it's the ANXIETY that has overwhelmed me this time around. When my husband, out of kindness and love, suggested that I just pick a weekend and get away for a while to recharge and relax, my brain absolutely exploded inside my head and I could feel my heart rate jump as I immediately came up with about 253, 234 reasons that was a terrible idea that I could never actually do because getting off work would be impossible and what if something happened to me while I was gone and I didn't know anyone or even worse what if something happened to the kids while I was gone or what if they got into a car accident and Evan wouldn't be able to call me or if it was really bad and they had to go to the emergency room but Mommy wasn't there so they didn't think I loved them and let's not even talk about how we don't really have it in the budget right now for me to just up and leave and gas prices are high and ......
I'm not SAD. I'm not over here wallowing in despair because, and let me be very clear here, I absolutely LOVE MY LIFE. I am blessed beyond belief and everywhere I look, I see the grace of God surrounding me.
When I shared my epiphany with Evan, his response spoke volumes. He got home from a really late night at work and I was super-excited to welcome him home with a shout of, "Guess what honey! I know what's wrong with me!"
"I'm suffering from an anxiety disorder! It's really the same depression I was fighting back before Isaiah was born, but now it's back and it's affecting me in a different way. The reason I didn't see it for what it was is because my life is so much different now and I thought it was gone. This whole time I just thought it was something I was doing WRONG! But, it's not!"
And then my man in his wisdom observed,
"The devil can always find a new way to come after you, honey. Last time he came down Main Street, but this time he found a back alley so he could sneak up on you while you were looking elsewhere."
I'm burned out and it's ok for me to admit it now because I'm not just going to ignore it anymore. I'm doing something about it. I'm currently making plans for the weekend away to recharge and refocus. I've started doing some research into finding a new doctor in our new city so I can talk to her about getting on medication. And more than anything, I am embracing the awareness this whole thing brings and fixing my eyes on what the Lord is trying to teach me in this moment.
At my weakest is right where he needs me to be right now. Friends, I've been getting too big for my britches. I'm not trying to say that God is punishing me for my pride by afflicting me with anxiety. What I am saying is that my busted, sinful, earthly body doesn't work quite right. God desires for me to "not be anxious about anything." (Philippians 4:6) That's his heart for me. It's because of sin and the chaos it creates that my mind has this overwhelming tendency to be very anxious about pretty much EVERYTHING. The difference I can take comfort in is that now I can own it and see how God can use this for His glory. Instead of feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt and failure that I haven't been able to pull off Philippians 4 (go figure: my power was insufficient. Duh, Sarah), I can now turn to 2 Corinthians 12:9 in a whole new way:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
I wish I could underline or highlight the most powerful portions of that verse, but I found myself wanting to emphasize the entire thing.
His grace. Not mine. It is sufficient and will sustain me.
His power. Not mine. Is it only through my weakness and failure that the power of Christ can shine through. It's not about me. It's not about my power, but His.
My whole attitude about this shifts in an instant.
I go from feeling like this:
to feeling like this:
The anxiety is powerful, but the HOPE that I find in Him is stronger.