Days 29-30: On Anxiety, Depression and Therapy

October 30, 2013 — 23 Comments

Secret #29: We are stuck in a cycle and we long to break free.

For me, the cycle looks like this:

anxiety cycle

Exhaustion –> Anxiety –> Fear –> Anger –> Guilt –> Depression –> Exhaustion… and repeat.

Yours may resemble mine or it may look completely different. This diagram comes from my experience, not a psychological textbook, so you official psychology folk in the crowd may be rolling your eyes. But official or not, so many of us moms find ourselves here – caught in an unintended emotional rhythm that wears us out at best and grips our throats at worst.

It dictates our days and haunts our nights and engrains in us lies we don’t want to believe.

But when we see ourselves like this, how can we not believe? The battle feels all but lost. Like an out of body experience, we step back to see a woman who looks like us and sounds like us, but she does not behave like us. She’s caught in the throes of a cyclone she cannot escape. And we are terrified… because she is us.

Perhaps this all sounds foreign to you. Perhaps you’ve been given the gift of a calm spirit, a patient heart, and a love for your children that trumps fear and anxiety. And to that I say, Praise God. Truly. The relief I feel for you nearly brings me to tears.

But for me, I struggle. For me, this is real. 

I have told the story elsewhere of the day that I got help, the day God met me in a therapist’s office and I finally felt understood, validated and safe. Some of you have met Him there, too, wept with exhaustion and relief in the promise of feeling like yourself again, the hope of controlling emotions that have long controlled you. Some of you know that grace can take unconventional forms, even the form of a little white pill.

I was invited to the table by my Savior that day, a million little pieces though I was. I did not realize the heaviness I was living under until that weighty blanket of anxiety was lifted.

Life is not perfect now, but it is not nearly as dark. I am not constantly worried and afraid. I recognize my thoughts and my words again. I can sense when the wind is pushing me too far to one side, and I can make choices to help straighten the sail. I can breathe, slow and deep.

Oh, don’t worry – my parenting is still subpar. I think after 28 secrets you know this about me. But I am no longer running laps in my mind. There are moments of rest now. It is good.

And now for a necessary aside: I am not saying every anxious mama has an anxiety disorder. I do, but mine was professionally diagnosed and, praise God, appears to be temporary in nature. Time will tell.

But I am saying this:

If you are a mama of young children who struggles with anxiety or depression, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Maybe you need to read that sentence again.

you are not alone mama

I have met the company you and I keep, and they are bright, beautiful, creative, engaging, God-seeking women who love their families and cling to the gospel. Like Ariana described in Friday’s post about loss, so many friends have stepped forward and said, Me, too. I need help, too.

There is grace for this, friends. Grace to hide in the Rock of Ages, yes. But grace also in community and counseling and therapy and taking breaks and exercise and maybe even medication. YES, Jesus can meet you there, too. This is the man who healed Lepers with a touch and befriended prostitutes. He is not put off by our emotional neediness or baffled by the neurotransmitters in our brain.

He is not afraid of us or our issues. He is not threatened by the status quo. He just isn’t. The end.

And also? He already knows the next secret…

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Secret 30: We all need therapy.

Yes, children. All y’all gonna need therapy, too.

We need it because of you and you’ll need it because of us. No matter how wonderful you are, no matter what kind of parenting rockstars we are, this is the truth: We all inflict emotional pain, well-intentioned as we may be.

No one is perfect, no not one, exclamation point and period.

And it’s okay.

It’s okay that you and I are broken. All the better for Him to make us whole, my dear.

We have a God who reconciles us to each other and to Himself.

We tell our secrets and He smiles because there is freedom in confession.
We forgive and He rejoices because He’s the one who forgave us.
We make messes and He redeems them LIKE IT’S HIS J-O-B.  

He loves us, He loves us, He loves us.

Amen and amen and amen.

Whew. It is wine o’clock now, yes?

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I’m linking up with The Nester every day in October for #31Days.
You can find a list of all 31 posts as they are published by clicking here.

23 responses to Days 29-30: On Anxiety, Depression and Therapy

  1. I reeeeally like you Amanda!
    xoxo

  2. It is wine o’clock, I went to therapy today and we spoke of all the hurts and all the hard stories. She called me resilient and I drove home thinking about what a worthy battle this is. Now, my nerves are shot and it’s time for mulled wine and some TV to drown out the noise of little ones refusing the call of sleep. ;)

  3. Proud of you and proud to know you.

    And a big amen to #30.

  4. I love you, friend. I am so thankful for the healing God has wrought in my life through therapy, medication, and authentic friendships. But man….when I was in those dark trenches…it was hard to see myself ever getting out of them. Thankful for sharing the stories that need to be told again and again.

  5. I have been so grateful for this series this month. You have made me laugh and nod and weep. I’m glad I’ve found your little corner of the internet.

  6. This is my favorite secret. I used to feel really embarrassed that I deal with depression/anxiety and have gone/need to go to counseling. I’ve gradually made peace with it, though, and I don’t feel embarrassed about it anymore. I feel like I’m learning to allow light into those dark areas and even allow those challenges to help me grow into deeper, stronger parts of my life. Good for you for sharing! I think we need to keep talking about these things to lessen the stigma associated with them.

    • A big yes to that last sentence. Maybe the mamas who come after us won’t believe the lie that asking for and receiving help make us less than. Thanks, Heidi.

  7. Amen and amen. I have struggled with depression/anxiety disorders since I was a little girl. At my worst, I went through inpatient treatment for anorexia (borne out of anxiety and desperation). At my best, I take my antidepressant regularly and my anti-anxiety as needed, sometimes half a does once or twice a month. I have learned that I HAVE to take care of myself, I HAVE to heed my mind and body’s warnings. If I want to be a good mama (and wife!), I know that God’s will is for me to be whole. And if this means I pay a sitter and spend a day in a park, just walking and talking with Him, then so be it. And if, and I pray this will not be the case, my kids struggle with the same issue? He has prepared me. And He can make them whole too.
    And what a relief that we’re not alone. Just another reason that we need community (something that God has been putting on my heart lately). I have loved this series, Amanda. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  8. Thank you for writing this Amanda. You are ao encouraging. Although I’m not a mom, my story is very similar in ever other aspect. My heart has been changed so much since counseling. It was just as you said, Jesus met me there and I finally felt like someone understood. The really incredible thing to me, is when we met at the Influence conference, I would have never guessed you dealt with this and that just makes me want to praise God for how much He has clearly done in your life. I am so encouraged by the fact that you are a a founder of she reads truth because a lot of times I feel unable to do anything like that because I have anxiety.. But then God shows me otherwise through, well, YOU. Thank you for being so honest. :)

    • Jess, thank you for this encouraging comment. I never thought I was one to struggle with this either – and I didn’t, until I became a mother. But whatever the cause, the effects are real and ignoring them does none of us any good. Glad you are reaching out and taking care of yourself in this way. Or, rather, allowing God to care for you in this way. I truly believe that’s what this is, just as in every other area of His care for us. And, to clarify, I’m not a founder of SRT but I am honored and happy to be among the writers and leaders, and we are so thankful for you and the others who gather there. xo

  9. My daughter is exhibiting the anxiety and depression that you talk about, she has a 3 & 1 year old. She suffers with migraine headaches weekly. I am so worried about her but so hard fir family to be of any help. If you could talk with her or provide some way for me to help her.

  10. Your series was one of my very favorite 31 days series ever — thanks for sharing your heart and being honest and vulnerable and helping me feel finally not-alone today.

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