I remember it like it was yesterday. Bitzy had recently turned 2 and Brother was 6 months, and we had just returned home from a trip to North Carolina. After everything was unpacked and the kiddos were asleep I began slowly going through a weeks worth of mail.
Most of it was junk of course, but there in the pile was a newspaper. I normally skip the news for the coupons if we’re honest with ourselves, but there was a picture that struck me on the front page. I slowly began reading a story about a 33 year old mother of 3 who had recently died from the horrible disease of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
And honest to goodness, right then and there, it was like anxiety rushed over my body like a wave.
For the next few days, weeks and months if I felt the tiniest twinge, tingle or pain I was 100% convinced that I had ALS.
I mean, convinced.
My mind had completely given itself over to this lie that I was literally dying of this disease.
I had no idea, that my “disease” was anxiety. Not ALS.
So one evening after struggling silently, I confessed my feelings to Zach. I was bawling, like ugly crying. I told him exactly when I had contracted ALS, my symptoms and mostly how sad I was for him and the babies to have to watch me die from this disease.
Thankfully he DID NOT laugh at me. He was very gracious with my fragile heart and explained that I could be experiencing postpartum anxiety and that most likely I did not have ALS.
I argued that I DID NOT HAVE POSTPARTUM ANXIETY, I clearly had ALS. I even walked across the room and said, “See, look at my feet! Don’t I have a limp? I have ALS!” He had the nerve to say that I didn’t have a limp! Can you imagine my horror when he again said that all of this was in my mind?
Still, I cried and cried. I was so relieved to tell him how I felt and yet so annoyed that he was accusing my “symptoms” of being due to anxiety. Finally, he encouraged me to see a doctor (other than WebMD).
When I made my appointment I had decided that finally I would get my diagnosis. Then, Zach would see that I was truly dying. As I went into the room and waited for the doctor I was really and truly terrified. In my heart I truly did believe that I had a terrible disease.
The doctor came in and asked about my symptoms. When I told her, she looked at my chart and said, “Oh I see that you recently had a baby. How have you been feeling emotionally?”
There it was again. All this chatter about emotions when really I just wanted someone to agree that there really was something wrong with me!
Then, she said it. “Molly, you are suffering from postpartum anxiety. I want to prescribe you a medication that will help you feel more calm and subdue your fears.”
In case your wondering, I still wasn’t convinced. I kindly said, “No thanks” to the medication and went on my way. I just couldn’t understand why no one else was freaking out!
Finally, I got it.
I was innocently watching an episode from Parenthood (best show ever), when Christina found out that she had breast cancer. It was a very emotional episode and through tears I thought, “Oh my goodness. I have breast cancer. I know that I do.”
And friends, it was like a light bulb went off. I realized that it wasn’t normal to “have” ALS and breast cancer within two minutes of each other.
Since that revelation I have still struggled with anxiety off and on for the past 2 years, but now I realize that it’s not real. That it truly is all in my head. I still do not take medication (this is a decision for me personally, however, I do not judge or condemn anyone who chooses to take it).
I would love to tell you that it’s gone. But it’s not. When I stopped breastfeeding Brother he was 18 months old and I was 7 months pregnant with Nonny. Those 2 months that I wasn’t breastfeeding (aka: extra hormones racing through my body), I really did feel much better. There was a huge reduction in my “death and destruction” feelings.
But, as you know, 2 months later, my precious Nonny came along and immediately those feelings returned.
Now that she is a year old and I’m nursing, some days it’s much better and some days it’s really bad. I now know that these crazy feelings are directly related to hormones and they are not real…but in the heat of the moment they feel very, very real.
But somewhere along the road through working through these feelings (sure, they are irrational feelings, but feelings all the same), with Zach’s help, I have come to a place of peace.
At this moment I could have cancer or ALS or another strange disease or I could die in a car wreck tomorrow. (Hopefully I don’t, but I could). And now I’m learning that my life is not my own. It was bought by our Lord Jesus Christ and truly our tomorrow is not promised. There is truly nothing to fear when you have hope in Jesus.
And reading this is funny looking back on it. Because, I mean, I’m crazy. I admit it. Anytime I’ve told my friends this story we just laugh and laugh because it’s so hysterical…but at the time, it wasn’t funny at all.
I’ve also renewed my empathy and love for those dealing with depression and anxiety. I get it folks, I really do.
I share this with you because I didn’t know that this was “a thing.” I thought PPD was only when you drove your babies off of a mountain top, I really didn’t understand it could look very different from that.
One Bible verse that really helped me (and maybe it will help you), is “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5.
So, every time I had/have a crazy medical aliment I pray that God will allow me to take that thought captive and submit it to Him. When I do this, it helps so much. However, I admit, all too often I do not and I struggle until I do.
I share this with you to help you or someone else. Surely I’m not the only crazy person out there. Right?