I lied on my postpartum depression screening form. I felt a little annoyed that I even had to fill out this form. I was there for my baby’s check up, not mine. I didn’t intend to be dishonest, but every question on the sheet looked like something that would apply to any new mother, not just the ones with PPD. Are you exhausted? Um…yes. Are you having a hard time sleeping? Is this for real? I have an infant. Sleep is not in the cards for me right now. Are you crying more than usual? Didn’t we just cover the fact that I’m not sleeping? So, yes on the tears. Are you feeling worried, or overly anxious? Yes, and basically, yes to all of the other questions too.
I handed in my not-so-honest form to the nurse, and she came back warning me that I was borderline PPD, and told me that they wanted to rescreen me at my next visit.
I nodded and got out of there, determined to do a better job of answering the questions next time so they would leave me alone. I would do a better job of convincing them that I was OK.
Except that I wasn’t.
I was struggling. I could not sleep. I would lay in bed, wide awake, heart racing with anxiety and fear till 3 or 4 am every night. I came to dread bedtime because I knew that my hours-long battle with anxiety was about to begin and I was SO tired, but knew that I would not sleep.
I knew that I would find myself feeling so angry for no reason. I was unconsciously clenching my teeth almost all the time, to the point where I was hurting my jaw.
I could not greet my family with joy when I saw them each morning at breakfast. I just felt overwhelmed and filled with dread at the thought of making it through another day.
I would be overcome with panic when I had nothing to be afraid of. I could be standing at my bathroom mirror, applying makeup and I would have to do slow breathing exercises to try to calm down my racing, anxious heart.
I couldn’t remember anything. This was the part that scared me. With three small children, my greatest fear was that I’d leave one of them somewhere, or forget my baby in her carseat in a hot car because I just could not remember that she was with me.
I started thinking that I was going to die. I started worrying about what would happen to my husband and the girls when I was gone. I decided that I needed to write letters to my girls for them to read after I was gone.
I was breaking.
I finally decided to go and try to get some help. I thought that this was a physical problem. I went to our family doctor. He told me that he would prescribe anti depressives but they probably would not help. I went to a natural doctor. She told me to try yoga or prayer or exercise. I went to my OBGYN. She told me that she could put me on anti depressives, but that then she said, “you really don’t want to do that…” So I didn’t. They all told me that I was fine. There was nothing medically wrong with me. The only thing they found was that 2 hormone levels were off due to having recently had a baby, and they said this would probably resolve once I was done breastfeeding my baby.
In the midst of all of this, my husband decided we needed to take a little vacation in Branson. We loaded up all 3 girls, and the pack n’ play and went to a hotel with a pool. The girls were having a grand time swimming, and playing mini golf. I was there in body, but my mind and heart were still racing, worrying, and trying to fix what was wrong with me.
One morning, I went out on a little walk by myself, just to clear my head. I found myself on a bench on the hotel property that overlooked beautiful hills and a valley below. I just sat there in the stillness. As I took in that scene, I noticed these huge birds, circling above the valley. They were so incredibly high in the air. I just kept watching them. As I sat there, with the birds gliding far above me, a thought came to my mind. They are not flapping their wings. At all. The whole time I had been there watching, they were just soaring, but not working for it. It was almost as if they were being held up or…carried by the wind.
The moment I had that thought, I heard a quiet Voice in my soul say, “stop struggling.” The Lord gave me a mental picture of myself fighting so hard, trying so hard. Trying to sleep. Trying to get through this. Trying to hide how badly I was struggling from those who loved me most. Trying not to be a burden to anyone. Trying to map out a plan for the future in case something really awful was wrong with me. I was like a bird, flapping, and flapping and wearing out, but never getting anywhere. But I was not supposed to struggle. I was supposed to rest. I was supposed to let Him carry me. Just stretch out my arms and feel His wind, His strength and let Him carry me, because honestly it was getting so hard to keep walking. I just sat there and cried as I watched those birds, carried on the wind. As I cried and prayed, this verse came to mind. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.
He was asking me to wait. He was asking me to let Him carry me.
I don’t know where any of you reading this are today, but maybe someone needs to hear this. God is infinitely strong. He can handle the hard things in ways we can not. So many times, we find ourselves being crushed under burdens that we were never intended to bear. He asks us to “Cast our cares, our anxieties, on Him.” Why? Because He loves us. He loves us and He is strong enough to carry them. He is strong enough to carry us if we will go to Him and let go.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and grow weary and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
For those of you just trying to walk and not faint today, lift up your heads. Look up. He will carry you. It is OK to stop struggling. It is OK to rest. Just rest.
*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here: The Gospel