Friends, I have a confession. For several weeks now, I’ve been engaged in a battle.
I have battled thoughts in my head telling me that I’m useless, hissing that what I do isn’t good enough, reminding me of all the mistakes I make in a day. I have battled whispers in my ear telling me that my children and my husband would be so much better off without me. I have battled despair, and futility, and uselessness.
Dear ones, I have been battling a dark, deepening depression.
It’s more likely that I’ve been fighting this battle for months, possibly even years. As I look back, I can trace my descent starting with the pregnancy complications I had with Pearl, which began three years ago. This precious fourth-born of mine was hard won. Complications began at 12 weeks and continued until 34 weeks when she was born premature.
Also during this time, I underwent diagnostic procedures in an attempt to name the relentless, worsening pain in my gut. I discovered more and more foods that I couldn’t tolerate, and my diet became more and more restricted. Once the ulcerative colitis and SIBO were named, I sought treatments. Just about anything you could imagine in the world of eastern or western medicine, I tried. None of it worked.
The grief I felt over the losses of a healthy pregnancy, birth, and newborn merged into despair of ever being able to eat without pain. And in the midst of my despair and hopelessness, the daily demands from my home and family became oppressive. I snapped at my loved ones more and more often. My words were short. My brow was furrowed. I exuded impatience and contempt. I yelled. I cried. A lot.
I began to notice that things that used to bring me joy, no longer did. Tending my garden, teaching history lessons, cooking meals for friends and family, worshipping in church. All of these felt like small, relentless irritations. Like little pebbles in my shoe, they kept me anxious and uncomfortable.
I noticed that my lists of God’s gifts to me, both here on the blog and in my notebook, took on new purpose. No longer were they expressions of joy and thanksgiving being offered up by a grateful heart. They were the products of a heart desperately seeking to assure itself that there was something worthwhile in life after all.
And then came the day that Pearl did something, I can’t even remember what, and I yelled at her. Her eyes got huge and her chest began to heave and she wailed like only a heartbroken two-year-old can. I softened and held out my arms for a hug and she ran away screaming, with a look of fear in her eyes. I cried because my toddler was running from me. I scooped her up and sat her on my lap, her chest still heaving. She noticed my tears, and then she cried harder and tried to run away. And then I cried harder….and then she cried harder…..and, well, you get the point.
I saw Ruby walk into the room, take one look at me, and then back out again slowly, like she hoped I hadn’t seen her. I heard her whisper to the other kids, “Mom’s crying. Don’t go in!” And the realization dawned on me.
My kids are scared of me.
Friends, I can put on a smile and tell you, “I’m fine. How are you?” I can force myself out of bed in the morning and do what needs to be done. I can keep a household humming along ship-shape and no one will be the wiser to my inner battles. But it seems that I can’t fool my children. And when they began to look at me with fear in their eyes, when I realized Ruby was gauging my mood every morning to find out what kind of a day we would be having, when I noticed the older kids begging the younger ones to behave so that I wouldn’t come in the room, I realized…
…there just might be something wrong here.
This confession doesn’t really have a happy ending, not yet. But it’s looking happier. I asked for input from trusted and qualified friends. I filled a prescription, and I take it faithfully. And I feel like I have more skin on, like I’m not wearing my nerves on the outside of my body.
I know that there are those who see such medications as poor solutions to these inner battles. All I can say is that when the battle is raging, when you see your loved ones becoming casualties, and you feel that you yourself will be felled at any moment, can it possibly be wrong to reach for whatever is going to carry you out of the midst of the massacre? Can it be considered wrong to seek to replace a chemical in my body that is lacking? And why do some condemn replacing chemicals, but not arms, or legs, or kidneys?
Friends, I share this with you out of a desire to share myself and my heart. I have this growing suspicion that there is a multitude of people out there in similar situations, on similar medications. But who aren’t sharing about it. That’s okay. I don’t think we all need to make confessions.
But isn’t it comforting, if you are one of those people, to know that someone else is sharing about it? And that you’re not alone?
This confession is for you.
I’m like you. Yes, I post pictures of my beautiful family, of delicious food, of crafty projects. If you’re trying to get to know me through my blog, you probably think I’m living a June Cleaver motherhood. But I’m not. Not any more than you are, not any more than that other blogger is. We’re all desperate people nursing broken hearts, longing to be filled. This wretchedness is simultaneously the ugliest thing I’ve experienced, and the most beautiful. It’s what draws us together. It’s what draws us to God.
This week in church we sang a favorite song of mine, one that for many years I’ve been unable to sing because I cry when I attempt it. It is the promise to which I cling.
I will change your name.
You shall no longer be called
Lonely, or Afraid.
I will change your name.
Your new name shall be
Faithfulness, Friend of God,
One Who Seeks my Face.
* Joining Ann at