At the beach, I read whole books from cover to cover. We played in the pool. I took the J girl on a bookstore/beach date. (Only the best kind ever). I cooked fresh shrimp. I didn’t think about recovery (much), about taking medicine, or cleaning the house, or how I was drowning in to-dos and should-dos.Despite the promise of spring in the woods, when I climbed the rickety porch steps of home, the weight of it came rushing back. I still didn’t know what to do, and still couldn’t bring myself to take the pills.
(I guess I need to explain why. I researched and researched on side effects and results. I asked friends about side effects and results. I researched some more. I considered the fact that I was breastfeeding. I knew my symptoms were improving, if slowly. After weighing all this, I did not have peace about taking the medicine for my recovery. The risks versus reward FOR ME, were too great. And again, it was a decision the counselor was encouraging me to make for myself. Please know this was an informed decision, and may not be the best one for everyone.)
And because that’s the way these things go, the Husband left for a 12 day trip not a week later.
That’s how I ended up, the Saturday night after he left, terrified of a windstorm and having a brief physical panic attack over the thought of having to make my kids brush their teeth morning and night for the next 18 years. It seemed too hard.
The next morning I wrangled the kids to church, skipped Sunday School and sat by myself on a bench clutching a cup of coffee. You take the moments of quiet when and where you can. By the end of the church service, bent over the pew back in front of me, I was begging God to help me.
At this point, the J girl leaned over to me and asked what I was praying for. Exhausted, I just whispered that I was asking God to help me be a better mom, and in those moments of grace I need the most, she whispered right back, “I think you are the best mom ever. Well, you are tied with Momma (my sister). Well, you are one percent better than her.”
I’ll take it.
There was no lightning bolt. No neon sign. No instantaneous relief. None of that. But somewhere between the panic attack, the quiet cup of coffee, and the begging, a slow realization started to burn.
If I wasn’t going to take the pills, I had to use every. other. tool in my arsenal to beat this. And I believe God’s answer to my prayer was to give me the grace, and the determination to take the first step towards recovery.
So I did.
I made a deal with myself. I left the pills on top of the medicine cabinet and gave myself one more month.
I got new kicks and I started going to the gym. Five days a week. WITH CHILDCARE.
(And all the mamas said Amen.)
I ordered the anti-anxiety workbook recommended by my counselor. And made another appointment with her.
I started an over the counter supplement known to help with anxiety, and recommended by the pharmacist.
I hired a maid.
I made an mood-lifting blend with Young Living Essential oils that I wear like perfume.
It’s three weeks in, and friends?
I feel better. Not well, but better.
The first day after the maids came, I drove home and I didn’t even know what to do with myself because the whole house was clean AT THE SAME TIME. Hiring the maid lessened my to-do list by at least half, and gave me more time to do the things I love, to play with the little people I love.
Going to the gym in the morning has transformed my routine. It seems so simple, but it is life changing. I’m up, I’m dressed, I sit with my bible for five minutes, then I’m moving. I have to drive J to the bus stop in the morning no matter what, so we are gym-ready when we hit the front door. Maybe I’ve lathered on some hippie oils, and I have definitely had my coffee and my vitamins.
Before, after I dropped J off at the bus stop, I would sit on the couch for an hour or two in the morning. That’s how long it took me to start my day.
Friends, I was not prioritizing well.
Those are my gym hours now, and when I get home, I am motivated to work, to play, to rest in my small beginnings, even for just a moment longer. I accomplish more and I feel better. I even signed up for a 10k to run in June. I have workout goals. (I always do better with goals).
I need to note two things here:
One: I recognize and am incredibly grateful for the financial freedom we have for me to both join a gym and pay for a maid twice a month. We worked hard to be debt free, and that was the Husband’s gift for me in return. I know that is not the case for everyone struggling with this.
This is a direct quote. I encourage you to read the entire article if you suspect you may suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety.
I believe with every atom of my tired momma soul that I wouldn’t have made it off the couch without the Lord. But hear this: I wouldn’t have stayed off the couch it weren’t for all the rest. You don’t get better by being a better Christian, a better mother, a better wife. You don’t get better by powering through and compartmentalizing what little emotions you have left.
You CAN start the process of getting better by asking for help. I reached out to my community first, then the professionals. And I am flush with gratitude for the many tools I have access to in order to be well. (And I do mean ALL – if these had not worked, I would have taken the anti-depressant with no regrets.)
I can’t pick out which thing works the most, or best. I just know it is a mental, physical and spiritual holistic approach that is working for me and I am all grit and gratefulness for the means to do so. The Lord has provided moments of encouragement at every turn – from the emotional empathy of my eight year old to the precious girl at the gym who LOVES the babes, shares her knowledge with me, and encourages me to come back each day.
So this is me. Sort of okay, getting more okay.
And I know three weeks is a small measure on a long timeline, and setbacks will come, but I have Hope. And forward progress.
Thanks for hanging in there and reading the whole dang thing. Thanks for praying for me, for being my community. You matter so much to me and I am better for you.
With much love.
(You’ll notice I don’t talk much on here about my YL oils, but if you have questions, or want my recipe, feel free to email me via the contact page!)