I ugly cried in bed last night for the first time in a long time. My husband lay inches away from my face studying me while I buried my face in my hands.
"What's wrong?" he asked gently.
"I think I need help," I said matter of factly. And then, as if on cue, the tears came and would not stop.
I'd been doing ok managing life with a new baby, or so I thought. But over time, the feelings of anxiety and depression I knew well from my first pregnancy have resurfaced. It's all there: the nagging restlessness, the constant anxiety over things I know aren't that important (unfinished laundry, doing the dishes, ruining my son's birthday cake!) and most of all the looming sadness. It was the subtle progression that surprised me this time. I keenly remembering "bragging" to one of my girlfriends at two months postpartum: "No baby blues this time around! I feel a lot more like myself!"
A bit premature perhaps. I haven't felt like myself since.
I went to see what I thought was a therapist recommended by my insurance company. She turned out to be a psychiatrist (not kidding) and after not-even a 10-minute assessment that made me feel more specimen than human, she diagnosed me bluntly: "You're definitely a candidate for medication. There are a few I can prescribe you." Then she scribbled feverishly on a notepad and handed me a form to sign over my medical records.
"But I'm nursing ..." I heard myself say, shocked.
"There's one that is safe for the baby," she assured me, and continued scribbling. I politely declined and returned the medical form before practically running out of her office and to my car where I ugly cried with my face buried in the steering wheel.
Life right now is overwhelming. The days are long and the work is difficult in a way that is difficult to describe to my friends without kids. Everything feels forced and unnecessarily hard ... getting out of bed, sending emails, dropping my son off at school. I want so badly to fix myself except I don't know exactly what I need.
But I have this comfort as I battle raging hormones, mood changes and the thick of mothering young children: God sees and He cares. I know from His Word that He is "near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)." I know too that "His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)." And I know that "this light momentary affliction is preparing for [me] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17)."
That's the duality of living in the present while also knowing the truth. I am depressed today. That's a fact. I feel like crap and I mostly want to go back to bed. Forever. But the other reality (#alternativefacts) is that God:
- Knows all about depression because He battled His own griefs and sorrows on earth (Isaiah 53:3)
- Is with me in the hard times and isn't going anywhere (Matthew 28:20)
- Records the tears of my every ugly cry (Psalm 56:8)
It doesn't change my reality, true ... but it does change my perspective. Even though I forgot about this part - the ugly crying and the emotional roller coaster and the constant state of exhaustion - it's no surprise to Him. He sees and He cares. He understands when I have a mild panic attack over the piles and piles of laundry hiding in our guest room. He hears my sentence prayers for bedtime to come quickly and gives me strength and courage to seek the help I need. I'm not saying that won't eventually include an anti-depressant or therapy or something else I haven't thought of because it might. What I am saying, is that I'm not just going to be ok, I am ok.
Thank God for that.